What is Warehouse Automation, and How can it improve your company?

Posted by Advanced Mobile Group on Dec 7, 2021 10:21:44 PM

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Warehouse work can be complicated. From tracking inventory to managing returns, the number of details to work around might feel overwhelming. Whether you oversee materials handling or order fulfillment, you may have considered the ways that automating your business’s processes could streamline your overall performance. It’s no exaggeration to say that technology is reshaping almost every industry in modern America, and over the last few years, the rise of automation has radically reshaped the way warehouses sort, store, and move stock.

In this light, considering adopting more automized practices is a savvy business strategy. You never know when your warehouse will be hit with disruptions like worker shortages or efficiency issues, so looking at warehouse automation early can save you time and money in the long haul. Whatever your reasons may be, let’s take a moment to examine how warehouse automation works and how it can shape the future of your business.

So, What Is Warehouse Automation?

top-5-things-you-should-know-about-warehouse-automationLet’s start by laying down some groundwork; what is warehouse automation? In short, warehouse automation refers to the use of specialized equipment and systems to perform duties that are usually performed by labor. Oftentimes, automation is used to cut down on repetitive tasks that can become productivity bottlenecks. This might involve using machines or other automated systems to unload inventory, or it might mean using robotics to store and retrieve products on demand. The central throughline is that automation keeps productivity high while cutting out the direct participation of labor.

What Are the Different Kinds of Warehouse Automation?

Automation isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of deal; it comes in many types and degrees, depending on what niche it aims to fill. Scanning devices that replace manually recording inventory, robots that move inventory across warehouses and software that coordinates shipping schedules fit the description of automation. Nearly every aspect of warehouse work can be automated, and while you don’t have to automize the entirety of your business, you can certainly automate key aspects of your warehouse to improve efficiency.

Innovative Warehouse Technologies You Could Use TodayWhen looking at the ways automation can improve your business, you’ll find that automation falls into one of two camps — either digital or physical. Digital automation focuses primarily on data management, and it frequently consists of software that cuts down on manual labor in your warehouse. This might include data capture solutions, like using mobile barcoding to track inventory; it also includes hour tracking software, which can help improve planning and labor management. The other type of automation, physical automation, refers to technologies that reduce worker activity while boosting warehouse efficiency.

Why Should I Choose to Automate My Warehouse Operations?

Between the difficulties of hiring and retaining warehouse employees and the challenge of meeting your business’s service needs, automation is a nearly crucial cost-cutting measure for modern warehouse operations. Additionally, with the rise of mass shipping through internet retailers, it’s clear that automation will only continue to grow more advanced in the coming years, marking it as a trend that’s going nowhere fast. With all of this in mind, there is any number of reasons you might choose to adopt automated practices when you aim to boost your warehouse's productivity.

Budget cutCost-saving is only one of the reasons to take on more automation, but it’s a prominent one. Approximately sixty-five percent of warehouse operating costs come down to labor, so reducing the scope of manual labor directly impacts operational costs.

There are other logistics reasons though, including the scope of operations; warehouses are getting bigger. As online commerce continues to grow, suppliers face increased demands from customers and retailers. As a result, the size of warehouses has more than doubled in the last twenty years, jumping from about 65,000 square feet to over two million square feet, and that’s not even counting how the actual height of warehouses has also increased, requiring warehouse crews to use specialized equipment. Many distribution centers have grown to the point where they need multiple buildings to house their inventory. With the scope and scale of warehouse operations growing so dramatically, cutting operational corners by automating menial labor significantly improves your performance.

What Are the Benefits of Automating My Warehouse, and How Do I Go about Automation?

An efficient warehouse is a profitable warehouse, improving your customers’ experience and boosting your overall business results. When you choose to automate your warehouse’s operations, you open the door to a wider variety of benefits. Automation can have a direct impact on the quality of your employee’s labor and their subsequent expenses; in addition to reducing overall labor costs, automation both improves worker efficiency and decreases the likelihood of employee accidents. Automation also goes hand-in-hand with improved employee satisfaction, since your workers spend less time on low-skill work.

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Outside of improving your employee’s labor productivity, you’ll see improvements in other areas, too. Automation lets you make better use of your warehouse’s available space, and improved inventory control means that you have a stronger handle on your ability to move stock. These improvements to your resource utilization both make your workplace’s performance stronger, but in turn, they also satisfy your customers and keep them coming back in the future.

So, how do you go about automation? It honestly depends on what part of your warehouse you’re seeking to automate. You can streamline the accuracy and speed of your warehouse’s receiving and sorting processes by implementing automated sorting systems and automated storage and retrieval systems. Automating your packing process keeps deliveries durable and cost-effective while automating shipping itself streamlines the speed of the process and creates more detailed records for your business. You can even optimize your warehouse’s returns process, in turn keeping your customers happy and satisfied.

If you’re looking for ways to automate your warehouse, consider our services at Advanced Mobile Group. We provide support for businesses ranging from system design to on-site support. Contact us today, and let us know how we can help you!

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Topics: Warehouse Managment, Voice Technology, Automation

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