Automation: A Catalyst in Warehouse Operations
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Automation: A Catalyst in Warehouse Operations

By Manufacturing Technology Insights | Monday, May 13, 2019

AutomationAs e-commerce scales and customer demands are becoming increasingly complex, many retailers are opting for automated warehouse solutions to improve their logistics operations efficiency and also to drive down the costs. Warehouse automation is an advanced concept in today's fast-changing retail-industry environment to address new supply-chain challenges head-on.

Automation can start with something as simple as tracking inventory, personnel or shipments. As a facility continues to expand the operations, product traceability and employee efficiency have become driving factors behind major interventions in automation. This is where facilities would benefit from the use of a warehouse execution system (WES) for business operations and management.

The main benefits of warehouse automation include:

Reduced headcount

Headcount savings are central to any automation business case, driven by improvements in labor productivity. Reduced headcount also allows the warehouse to scale the local labor pool without draining. However, with the ROI for warehouse automation technologies often rise up, the reduction of labor costs alone may not provide a sufficiently compelling reason for justifying the investment.

Improved space utilization

Compared to even the most space-efficient manual solutions, automated storage solutions provide increased stock density. The required footprint can be significantly reduced by using the warehouse's full height and eliminating aisle space, which means lower rent costs or extending the life of an existing building.

Improved accuracy

Automation is best suited for areas of maximum scale and degree of standardization with the most commonly automated process areas being stored, picked and dispatched. Thus improved accuracy across end-to-end processes reduces the burdensome errors and drives the end customer to better service levels.

Automation will be no longer a luxury reserved for large warehouses, it will become a necessity for any warehouse. With the benefits of recent and ongoing technological innovations, warehouse automation advantages have become more accessible than in the past and can be used to drive value across the supply chain and also to open up the strategic options.

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