The idea of an automated warehouse has been growing ever since Henry Ford’s time. As robotics become more sophisticated, the tasks done in the warehouse continue to expand. Robots are now capable of fine motor skills, of choosing precise objects off of shelves and fulfilling orders.
For decades workers have worried about being replaced by robots but instead, workers are shifting into new roles within the warehouse and robots are taking on tasks that are dangerous for employees, therefore creating a safer work environment.
An automated warehouse means much more than robotics. It also includes automating back-office processes, picking, barcode scanning, and even controlling temperature and humidity levels. The following are a few terms you might not be familiar with:
Automated Picking/ Goods to Person
Thanks to automated “picking,” warehouse employees (of the human variety!) have items brought to them at their workspace instead of having to go retrieve them. This saves time and reduces injuries previously caused by lifting or missteps. Picking is also known as “goods to person” (GTP) technologies.
Employees have it easier than ever when it comes to locating items in the warehouse with “Pick-to-light” systems. Workers scan barcodes and LED displays guide them to the correct storage bin and also indicate the number of items to be picked. When the operator finishes, s/he presses a button, and the next storage area is revealed.
Autonomous Mobile Robots
Autonomous mobile robots, or AMRs, are popular in e-commerce fulfillment centers where high-volume fulfillment is required. AMRs are almost completely independent and the closest thing in the warehouse to a free-thinking robot. AMRs often work alone, but sometimes work alongside warehouse personnel by moving through the warehouse together.
Why Would You Want An Automated Warehouse?
Companies are investing in warehouse automation for many reasons.
Some of the benefits include:
Reduced errors and improved inventory counts.
Automated solutions make fewer errors in selecting materials which result in more accurate fulfillment and inventory records. Companies realize significant savings as a result.
Reduced injuries and accidents.
Because many systems are designed to bring items to the worker, there are fewer accidents and injuries in the warehouse. Employees are staying off ladders and no longer risking strains in gathering materials.
Increased speed of work.
Automated systems work faster than employees and don’t need breaks! Warehouses designed for automation are more efficient and so more is achieved in less time.
Not only do automated systems require less space to move around, but they can also maximize the vertical space and high ceilings common in warehouses. This means companies can fit more material in the same footprint.
If you’re curious about warehouse automation and how it is impacting the jobs of the future, we invite you to contact us today to learn more.