If you haven’t updated your warehouse in a long time, you may be losing business. How do warehouse operations affect your business? They affect it in myriad ways.
Manual warehouse operations require more people to run them, which increases salary and overhead expenses. People get tired and need breaks, so productivity slows down. And mistakes? Sure, mistakes happen, but don’t they happen to every business?
There are many great reasons to choose warehouse automation. Don’t let the term warehouse automation scare you. In the past few years, warehouse automation has improved by leaps and bounds, making updates and upgrades possible in even the smallest warehouse. What costs thousands of dollars in upgrades, technological enhancements, new racks and shelving space, and more, now costs a fraction of that because technology has improved to the point that it can adapt to the business rather than the business adapting to it. This makes it available to more businesses than ever before.
If you’ve been considering warehouse automation or improving warehouse operations, it’s time to take the leap. Here, we outline several ways in which all size businesses can embrace warehouse automation.
Picking Systems that Bring Items to You: Goods to Person (GTP)
A picking system called Goods-to-Person (GTP) changes warehouse automation so that the goods are, as the name suggests, brought to the person instead of simply making goods easier to find in the warehouse in a Person-to-Goods (PTG) system.
With a GTP system, orders are entered into a central point of synchronization from a central database. Automated storage and retrieval systems are one example of GTP systems, but there are many others that suit a wide range of sizes and types of businesses. Some use rail-guided robotic arms, like cranes, that move along rails to pick items and place them in central points. Others move racks and shelves to the people, rather than requiring people to move through a warehouse to find the items.
Another aspect of GTP systems is shuttle-based GTP. Battery-powered shuttles move along each aisle. Items are picked and added to the shuttle to bring the goods to people waiting at central locations. Newer systems are now able to finish one level of an aisle and shift up to the second level, traversing the entire warehouse at various heights! It’s an astonishing achievement that truly brings goods to people.
Lights can also be used to improve warehouse operations. Pick to light systems use alphanumeric displays and buttons at bins, racks, and shelves to indicate where goods are located. Operators move to a central point and enter the order into the system. Lights illuminate the goods, and pickers are directed to the exact location in the warehouse where they can find the items. Once picked, a button pressed on the unit alerts the system that an item has been safely located and added to the order.
Mobile apps also make warehouse operations efficient. Apps such as Scanco Warehouse for Sage 100 ERP, barcode scanning apps, and other apps transform smartphones into warehouse efficiency units. Such apps use devices that workers are familiar with so that they have a shorter learning curve to use the equipment efficiently.
With mobile apps such as Scanco Warehouse for Sage 100 ERP and Acumatica, apps can access orders within the database and reconcile them to inventory scanned in the warehouse. Picking, packing, and shipping all become easier and faster with mobile apps.
Companies of all types and sizes can use warehouse automation to improve operations. Warehouse operations can be improved by switching to automated systems that cut costs, reduce expenses, and improve order fulfillment accuracy.
Scanco offers numerous technologies to improve warehouse automation and warehouse operations. Barcode scanning, barcode label printing, inventory systems that mesh with ERP system databases, and much more reduce the time, effort, and expense of warehouse management.