Warehouse automation is the process of moving products into the warehouse, through the warehouse, and to the customer. This process occurs with little interference or assistance from human labor. Through this process, labor-intensive activities are eliminated. It also eliminates repetitive tasks or processes that take up unnecessary time. Manual data entry is another area that automation eliminates.
Warehouse automation does not necessarily mean the use of robots but implies that software is used to speed the flow of inventory through the system, thereby avoiding human error, which can be very costly.
An interesting fact to note is that the supply chain industry is expected to grow to 37 billion dollars by 2027. Warehouse automation solutions are turnkey solutions that will assist logistics companies to meet the demand and eliminate errors. 55% of jobs that do not require a college education are at risk of automation.
Automation in warehouses initially starts with a warehouse management system. There are a few different categories of warehouse automation solutions:
- Warehouse systems automation
- Merchandized warehouse automation
- Basic warehouse automation
- Advanced warehouse automation
Additionally, there are different types of warehouse automation technologies:
- Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS)
- Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)
- Goods-to-Person (GTP)
- Voice Picking and Tasking
- Pick-to-Light and Put-to-Light Systems
- Automated Sortation Systems
It is important to know when to automate. If there are delays due to workforce shortages, if processes are labor-intensive, inaccurate inventory counts, declining order capacity, and customer satisfaction that is declining are some of the reasons a business should consider automation.