The rapid growth of e-commerce as well as a shortage of labour in the warehouse is putting immense pressure on operations. Micro-fulfilment centres, those smaller storage facilities that are located closer to the end-consumer, are often automated to reduce costs and optimise throughput. Speeding up the movement of goods means lower management costs, improved revenues, more sales and satisfied customers, according to SCCG. Automation of processes can deliver greater productivity, better use of labour, and fewer errors, all leading to reduced costs. Automated solutions have the biggest benefit in picking, packing, and shipping customer orders. More than 50% of the average DC labour force is involved in these processes. Various types of robots are being used extensively to pick, pack, batch and prepare items for despatch. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are replacing forklifts and are practical in small DCs. Affordable and scalable cloud-based Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are becoming commonplace.

This article was first published in the August 1st 2022 issue of Warehouse & Logistics News, subscribe to the magazine by clicking here.

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With the current demand for baggage handling, parcel handling and sortation; technology is needed to bring order to the chaos. Automated barriers can be used to hold back parcels on the chute to prevent collisions or simply to manage the timings of the items on the chute. Anything needed for automating the handling process can be applied to a Safeglide spiral and integrated seamlessly into an existing or brand-new system.

TGW robots will be automatically loading the transport frames for the delivery vehicles at Picnic’s new project, the largest food e-fulfilment centre in Germany. A FlashPick system will be used, which is powerful, reliable and extremely flexible and thus enables the best customer service at a high level of efficiency. Shortly before the lorries leave to go to the distribution points, items are retrieved towards a robot-assisted system developed by TGW, which loads the totes with the orders into the transport frames fully automatically, creating more efficiency.

A changing landscape introduces risk, but also presents opportunities to transform warehouse operations and technology plays a fundamental role by optimising processes to deliver greater efficiencies. Change is a given, and no matter what happens, versatility and risk mitigation should be top of mind for operations/warehouse managers. With a flexible fulfilment solution that combines sophisticated AI-driven software and AMRs, such as that delivered by 6 River Systems, businesses will be able to flex the existing workforce, increase productivity to accommodate shifting demand and support omnichannel fulfilment.

We are living in a great time of innovation, where automation is helping the logistics industry meet ever increasing consumer demand.

George Simpson

Features Editor

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