Warehouse Automation: 4 common myths cleared up



Warehouse-AutomationDistribution facilities, often known as warehouses, have the power to make or destroy a supply chain. Efficient order fulfillment processes inside these facilities can meet demand, please consumers, and adjust to any future changes. Conversely, inefficiencies result in costly mistakes, a delay in orders, and even more serious issues when unforeseen interruptions occur.

Not surprisingly, given the stakes, almost all businesses are searching for methods to optimize and expedite the operations of their warehouses and distribution centers. The comparatively low adoption rates of automation, one of the greatest solutions now available, could surprise you.

Benefits and obstacles of warehouse automation

Automation has been implemented by progressive businesses to streamline the movement of commodities into, through, and out of their facilities. Robotic systems can handle order selection, packaging, shipping, storage and retrieval in addition to receiving items. And they accomplish everything with the utmost accuracy, speed, and efficiency.

Even with these advantages, only an estimated 28% use robotics and automation. What prevents more businesses from investing in this way? To start with, there are still a lot of myths about automation. Because of all the uncertainty, businesses are left wondering if automation is truly a practical choice or if it is the best match for their warehouse.

In this post, we’ll examine four prevalent misconceptions that prevent businesses from automating and provide some clarification on the truth behind each one.

Myth 1: Robots are detrimental to the workforce

One prevalent misperception is that automation replaces or displaces human workers from their occupations. However, in practice, automation can lead to safer, better work prospects.

Businesses have had trouble finding and keeping enough warehouse employees to maintain efficient operations for years. The changing demographics of the workforce are a major cause of issues in hiring and retention.

Older workers are progressively retiring or quitting the field in favor of employment that require less physical labor. Younger workers aren’t lined up to take their positions; instead, they favor technology-focused occupations over conventional warehouse labor. Warehouses are severely impacted by the ensuing labor shortages, since current staff members find it difficult to meet demand.

Herein lies the role of automation. Order fulfillment processes that are labor-intensive and repetitive can be automated in warehouses, relieving pressure on human employees.

Workers may transition to whole new tasks brought about by automation, such managing items with unique needs or running, monitoring, and maintaining robots systems. They may also analyze data to continually improve operations.

In addition to being safer and more interesting for current workers, these job alternatives could draw in younger people who are keen to work in the technology industry.

Myth 2: Automation isn’t appropriate for things that spoil quickly.

There are certain product kinds with extremely complicated handling requirements. Distributors of these goods frequently maintain antiquated, ineffective manual procedures because they feel their business cannot be automated.

But these days, almost every kind of product may have its handling automated thanks to technological breakthroughs. The supermarket business is a prime illustration.

Historically, supermarket businesses have tended to concentrate their automation expenditures on products that are shelf-stable. On the other hand, the distribution of fresh and perishable food has mainly remained manual. Why? Time is of the importance when handling perishable products such as dairy products, baked goods, and fresh fruit.

In order to preserve quality and freshness, these items must travel through the distribution process as rapidly and effectively as feasible. If not, they risk spoiling too soon, resulting in waste, problems with food safety, and disgruntled consumers.

Robotic systems from earlier generations were not designed to match this demand for speed. The entire order fulfillment process is slowed down by the way they were configured to handle product storage and selection as two distinct tasks.

We can overcome the speed barrier using modern automation technologies. Buffer storage and order picking may now be combined into a single, quick process with readily accessible solutions.

Fresh and perishable food items may be added to the system as soon as they are delivered to the plant, selected right away, and then placed on store shelves more quickly than in the past. Some supermarket operators are able to get fresh food from farm to store in as little as 24 hours thanks to this new breed of technology.

Myth 3: Automating means high costs and new construction

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One of the main reasons given for not adopting automation is cost. Business executives view automation as a significant expenditure with an ambiguous return on investment (ROI) since budgets are limited and loan rates are high.

This impression stems from the false belief that automation initiatives often involve exorbitant expenses, protracted implementation schedules, and the building of a completely new facility.

Thankfully, businesses may overcome financial obstacles by implementing innovative automation strategies.

Purchasing modular automation is a terrific method to save expenses and expedite deployment for a quick return on investment. The best part is that businesses may use modular systems to adapt their current buildings; no new construction is necessary.

Automated systems consist of discrete, uniform automation cells. These modules resemble basic construction pieces.

Even older buildings with low ceilings may have them adjusted to accommodate any kind of facility. Automation modules might first be installed in warehouses where they will have the most impact. The system’s capability may then be readily expanded over time to accommodate new business requirements by adding more modules.

Additionally, by using a gantry design and high-density floor-based storage, modular systems can further save costs.

Products are kept in this arrangement by being placed straight on the warehouse floor in plastic boxes. Gantry robots do not require pricey racking or shelving systems since they can access any SKU from overhead at any moment.

Myth 4: Automated systems are difficult to learn and maintain

It’s true that workers and warehouse managers must get used to change as part of any automation effort. Learning how to run, manage, and oversee their automated system is part of this. The good news is that efforts to upskill don’t always have to be difficult.

Businesses should choose an automation supplier who serves as a committed partner even after the system handoff is complete, in addition to providing technology.

Custom training programs are provided by a comprehensive partner to help upskill the warehouse employees of their clients. Early project start means that by the time installation is finished, everyone is well-versed in optimal system operation and maintenance.

Automation suppliers can also give long-term assistance to optimize system uptime beyond the first training. Throughout the course of the system’s lifespan, they can recommend updates and modernizations in addition to performing repairs, replacements, and preventative maintenance.

Gaining an advantage over the opposition

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Even if the adoption rate of warehouse automation is now rather low, this will not continue. According to some study studies, during the following five years, the percentage is expected to increase to around 80%.

To remain competitive, businesses must automate, and this is the ideal moment to get started. It will be less difficult than most people believe to take on an automation project if you have the correct technology, partner, and mindset.

If you are interested in Warehouse Automation or want to know more about how to improve production efficiency. Please contact Robotnext today for advice and cost support. Details via hotline: 0909 914 837.

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