In today’s competitive labor market, finding resources skilled in warehouse management – and keeping them – has become a serious challenge. Many companies have been struggling to stay on top of high demands with limited people available to help carry out warehouse operations. Ongoing pandemic-related disruptions have further exasperated the problem.
Even in more ordinary times, warehouse management has long been difficult and inefficient, full of manual and labor-intensive processes that are repetitive, tedious and time consuming. In recent years, AI and robotics have reached the point where they can make effective tools in warehouse management by using automation to reduce those inefficiencies. The application of drones and robots has helped reap significant business and operational benefits.
With staffing challenges and technology advancements, warehouse automation has become increasingly important as companies look for ways to manage operational costs, maintain high levels of customer satisfaction, and use their available workforce more effectively.
What is Warehouse Automation?
Warehouse automation refers to technologies used to automate and streamline warehouse operations, such as artificial intelligence, IoT, scanners and readers, and applications.
An important thing to understand is that there isn’t one main type of warehouse automation. At a high level, warehouse automation can occur through the introduction of robots in a warehouse or through software systems that automate tasks that are tedious and time-consuming to do manually. Warehouse automation can be broken down further into different types of solutions, such as automated sorting systems, collaborative robots, automated storage and retrieval systems, wearable technology, and warehouse management systems.
Putting Warehouse Automation to Work
Automation can have a wide range of applications in the warehouse, including truck loading and unloading, internal transportation, order picking, sorting, inventory management, and data analysis. For example, a warehouse management system could be used to automatically reorder inventory when data from a barcode scanning system indicates an item is beginning to run low, helping to prevent the item from going completely out of stock.
Warehouse automation can be a powerful tool to help people be more productive. When processes can be automated and streamlined, people are able to do more work each day, even with fewer employees overall. Not only does this help people work faster and more efficiently, it can also improve accuracy. Humans are prone to making mistakes, especially when they’re under pressure to work as quickly as possible. But automated systems can significantly reduce errors that can negatively impact customer satisfaction.
Automation can also help improve worker safety. Robotics and other tools like conveyor belts can reduce employee injuries caused by things like lifting heavy objects and making repetitive motions that put strain on the body.
Use of AR/VR can help in navigating through the warehouse and reduce the picking and sorting as well as taking stock. Additionally, a control tower view can provide early warning alerts and notifications for sensitive goods, especially those where the environment is critical for upkeep like vaccines, medicines, food and beverages, farm fresh and perishables, etc.
Warehouse Automation Solutions
Warehouse automation is no longer something that’s just nice to have. It has become a necessity. Companies of all sizes stand to benefit from warehouse automation. Bristlecone specializes in delivering innovative digital logistics solutions that are designed to help you thrive on change. Contact us today to get started.