The majority of warehouses around the world still function without any form of automation. However, this is likely to change dramatically in the coming years. Warehouses that do not progress with the times will likely be priced out of the market sooner or later.
There are numerous advantages to automating the warehouse. Just imagine a conveyor belt of packages destined for customers all over the world, with a label print and apply feature that is both more accurate and much faster than manually printing, peeling, and sticking labels.
An automated warehouse results in increased efficiency, huge cost savings, better safety for workers, more accuracy and faster order fulfillment for customers, and much more.
Use Human Labor More Effectively
When speaking about warehouse automation, it does not mean complete automation with no human labor; there will still be scheduling and human operations management to consider.
However, with labor shortages, recruitment and retention are truly at a premium. There is no better time than now to switch up reliance from primarily human labor to a more automated approach.
Ideally, it is best to maximize automated labor for all the repetitive and precise tasks (like printing and applying labels) as well as sorting, tracking, and logistics. Human labor can be maximized where it is most needed – like with customer service, problem-solving, human resources, staff management, and so on.
Optimize Warehouse Storage Space
Warehouse space is just like space at home – even after upgrading to a larger space, it seems to fill up again too quickly because we always seem to fill whatever amount of space we are given.
The issue with space is being able to both access and locate stored materials easily. With automated warehouse storage solutions, both access and locating can be made easier, which results in both time and cost savings.
Increase Productivity and Efficiency
The number one reason to move to automation is for increased productivity and efficiency in the overall operations of the warehouse.
Manual labor for repetitive tasks like affixing print and apply labels which can be onerous and involve multiple stations and steps can be automated for coordination, tracking, printing, and affixing all in one step.
Moreover, these processes can continue beyond the constraints of a typical work shift to carry on production without interruption for faster order fulfillment.
Improve Safety Conditions
One of the biggest reasons for major accidents in the workplace is human error. With an automated warehouse floor, accidents would most likely not involve humans, so there needs to be much less anxiety about worker safety conditions and the associated standards and liabilities.
Repetitive movement injury can be just as insidious, resulting in time off work and long-standing chronic injury management issues. Some food and pharmaceutical warehouses also have sub-zero conditions, which can be onerous for workers, but not for automated solutions.
When productivity and efficiency are increased, along with safety and accuracy, there are inevitable savings.
Automated warehouses provide cost savings in terms of fewer equipment needs, a smaller warehouse footprint, less waste and damaged products, fewer maintenance-related costs, and energy savings.
Automation involves upfront costs that are significant, but over a short amount of time, the savings more than make up for the initial investment.
Step Up Inventory Accuracy
With automation, all products are labeled before storage or shipment so that inventory can be easily tracked from centralized information management software so that staff can easily track the locations of merchandise on route to or from the warehouse as well as within the warehouse itself.
When inventory begins to decrease, management may be notified to make a special increased order. Not only this but customers can also be notified if a product they are considering has only a few items left in stock or is on backorder.
Options for Customization
Warehouse managers will be pleased to know that warehouse automation solutions are almost always customizable. This means that for any size of a warehouse, or any product, there is an automation solution that will fit the bill.
This also means that automation can be implemented in a scaled approach so that if there is staff to be retained, then they can stay on. If the initial investment is prohibitive for full warehouse automation, then just a few solutions can be implemented at a time.
Get Orders Out Sooner
Order fulfillment has never been so at risk as it is now the world over, as warehouses and customers alike are seeing shortages and supply chain disruptions. This makes it more important than ever to ensure that products arrive and are sorted into the warehouse in a timely manner and also that they can be moved out of the warehouse to their final destination with customers as quickly as possible.
Errors, accidents, and damage are just part of the fallout of operating a receiving, shipping, and distribution warehouse full of products.
Products can be lost; the wrong order may be sent to the wrong person; the right order may be sent to the wrong address…the possibilities are endless. With warehouse solutions and the ease of automated services like print and applying labels, then orders can be triple-checked and tracked from beginning to end, ensuring accuracy all the way through.
As well, with better warehouse organization thanks to automation, as well as fewer opportunities for human error, then there is less likelihood of products being lost or damaged within the warehouse as well.
Automation is an ever-nearing horizon in the world of warehouse operations around the world. These benefits of automation are clear, so it is no wonder at all that the trend is catching on.