Naxtor Technologies have discussed the benefits of automating a warehouse, which include the following:
The automated warehousing applied to part or all of a distribution centre operation can provide a wide range of benefits including space savings, lower building costs, improved productivity, more efficient material flow, less people, safer operations, reductions in inventory, increased reliability, reduced running costs, better ROI and low lifecycle cost.
The automated warehousing systems provide the maximum possible usage of available floor space and building height. In some cases, this enables companies to increase storage capacity by up to 400% compared to conventional forklift operations. Where space is limited, switching to an automated warehousing solution can free up additional space for other activities, such as manufacturing.
And because automated warehousing solutions make the most effective use of space, building costs can be kept to a minimum. Significant cost savings are possible through the need for less land and a smaller building. Because automated warehousing systems do not require special floors or expensive aisle guidance systems, further savings can be achieved. Automated storage and retrieval machines also weigh a lot less than comparable narrow aisle trucks further reducing construction requirements.
The automated warehousing systems also offer remarkable performance in terms of productivity. Not only do they work faster than forklifts and narrow aisle trucks, they can also operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, keeping product on the move.
With automated storage and retrieval machines, there are none of the delays associated with putting away or retrieving pallets from high locations. Every pallet is picked up and deposited at the same speed regardless of where it is located within the system.
The automated warehousing systems can also enhance the efficient flow of materials through a manufacturing facility or distribution centre. By integrating the system with production materials handling systems, raw materials, tools, parts, work-in-process, and finished goods can all be efficiently delivered to where they are required just-in-time.
The systems can also be set up to provide a buffer storage function on assembly lines, and can service multi-floor applications. By using automated storage and retrieval machines the need for drivers/operators is eliminated. Compared with conventional methods, and calculated over the life of the machine, savings can be substantial and the ROI can be highly attractive.
The machines operate within fixed aisles protected by safety fences so the risk of people being injured in a collision is minimised. The need for operators to physically lift heavy products, or even heavy empty pallets, is also eliminated.
Reductions in inventory
With integrated location and inventory control software combined with faster throughput, it is possible to reduce stockholdings. Inventory can be accurately tracked at all stages, maximising stock availability.
Stock control can also be improved, with the software enabling goods to be automatically picked on a First In First Out basis , or by ‘use-by' date etc. Intelligent location control ensures goods are located in the most appropriate zone depending on their usage within the Automated Warehouse.
Once the automated warehouse has been set up, ongoing operating costs are minimised. Typical warehousing costs involving refuelling or recharging of batteries, regular mechanical and electrical maintenance, and staffing, lighting are also minimised.