19th June 2023

What is Warehouse Automation?

Learn why innovative warehouse automation solutions are the way forward for your business operations with nine benefits and expert insights for each process.

It’s the question on every operational manager’s mind. “How do I make my warehouse processes more efficient?

Because regardless of your industry, if you own/manage a warehouse, you’ll know streamlining your operations is the silky-smooth solution to success.

But what does it take to implement automated warehouse systems and is it a worthwhile investment for your requirements?

Read on to discover how warehouse automation solutions can boost your business prospects with improved efficiency, safety, and performance.

What is warehouse automation

What is Warehouse Automation?

Warehouse automation enhances operations and processes through automated technology applied in software, machinery, or other equipment.

So, rather than relying on the manual application of employees, various components such as conveyors, robotics and PLC programming manage the various processes.

By removing repetitive physical work or manual data entries and analysis, warehouse automation eliminates unnecessary processes that can be easily achieved and tracked through automated technology.

And not all automated warehouse systems require physical or robotic automation. Most automation is implemented in the software, such as data tracking to record the efficiency of operations and the number of products being stored and shipped.

Improving accuracy and enhancing efficiency should be at the forefront of any company utilising warehouse processes. So, it’s surprising to see that in 2021, 80% of warehouses were listed as not automated.

However, recent years have seen a shift to automation in full flow. In light of technological advances, more warehouses are investing in automated technology with four million commercial warehouse robots set to be installed in over 50,000 warehouses by 2025.

Plus, a further 27% of decision-makers from manufacturing, transportation and logistics plan to apply full automation to their warehouse systems by 2024.

How Do Automated Warehouses Work?

We can divide warehouse automation into two categories, beginning with the basics and finishing with the complex.

The Basics of Warehouse Automation

Starting with the foundations of warehouse automation, you should identify the most repetitive and simple tasks before implementing the following processes:

  • Scan and document items with bar code scanning to track when products are delivered, stored, and shipped.
  • Back-office automation should integrate with your item tracking so you don’t rely on error-prone manual counting to complete your stock control.

Managing your product/item storage with automated processes to record your inbound operations when receiving new deliveries or returns alongside outbound operations for picking and shipping provides a crucial foundation for your automated warehouse processes.

After completing this phase, you can apply additional value-added processes such as relabeling. By developing a warehouse management system (WMS) with advanced PLC programming technology, you record and track your operations accurately, reducing errors and saving time and money.

Advanced Automated Warehouse Systems

Now, with items and processes tracked and documented, after introducing these basic automated warehouse systems, you can begin to advance on other time-consuming or error-prone tasks:

The combination of automated software integrated into high-quality electrical machinery and equipment provides a full warehouse automation system.

9 Benefits of an Automated Warehouse

Whether you’re looking to improve your warehouse sortation processes or drive efficient packaging and delivery within the e-commerce industry, investing in automated warehouse systems is a smart move. The list of warehouse automation benefits includes:

  1. Increased Efficiency

Streamlining processes improves order fulfilment and inventory management across inbound and outbound operations.

  1. Improved Accuracy

Reducing or removing human error with automated replacements is a sure way to enhance the accuracy of your warehouse processes.

  1. Continuous Operations

Providing you maintain your automated systems; unlike workers, machinery and software don’t require lunch breaks or a night’s sleep. Automated warehouse systems can be programmed to work around the clock, 24/7.

  1. Safer Operations

Automated warehouse systems don’t just improve performance but enhance safety for your staff. The less need for physically demanding tasks, the safer your workforce becomes on shift.

  1. Maximised Space

Your automated warehouse system can be custom designed to maximise space and upgraded with ASRS systems to optimise your storage capacity alongside AGVs.

  1. Real-Time Tracking

Automated warehouse systems offer integrated tracking in real-time, providing you with order status and other data to improve insights and inform decisions.

  1. Data-Driven Awareness

With your automated warehouse processes recording data across inventory and operations, you can evaluate your performance and identify any bottlenecks for improved future automation investments.

  1. Environmentally Friendly

Due to the precision with which you can programme your automated warehouse system, you can ensure it optimises energy consumption for a reduced environmental impact.

  1. ROI

Advancing your warehouse processes into the realm of automation doesn’t come cheap. But the reductions in labour costs and human error, alongside the speed and efficiency of processes, will see a guaranteed long-term ROI for your business.

How Conveyors Improve Packaging Processes

Conveyor packaging systems play a vital role in package automation. By moving items from one stage of the process to the next with sortation capabilities, conveyor systems can provide an essential component of your automated packaging system regardless of your industry.

Packaging conveyor systems can integrate with various robotics, control panels and PLC programming to ensure automation capabilities exist across every stage of your packaging process.

Speak to Warehouse Automation Specialists

At Hills Electrical, we’re experts in electrical design and installation and enjoy helping businesses harness the power of automated capabilities with their processes.

Our team of specialists can help your journey to warehouse automation is seamless, efficient and tailored to your needs. We provide a complete turnkey solution with cutting-edge technology that can entirely revolutionise your warehouse operations.

Get in touch today to learn more about warehouse automation and how we can help your business continue moving forward.

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