By Matt Wicks, Chief Robotics Solution Architect
Automated storage and retrieval systems
To maximize DC productivity, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) are a connected material handling technology that dramatically increases inventory density while significantly reducing picker travel and item search times.
Working with warehouse management software, AS/RS support a variety of order-fulfillment processes, such as: mixed-load, full-case and break-pack handling; product sequencing and buffering; route-based delivery sequencing; returns processing; kitting; and auto-replenishment of pick modules. Performance and inventory data from this automated material handling system can be further mined to enhance fulfillment productivity.
The most recent designs utilize shuttle-based storage and retrieval modules that travel throughout the cubic storage structure. Multiple shuttles are deployed to select totes of required items and deliver them to goods-to-operator stations. After the necessary items are pulled from the totes by either workers or robots, shuttles return each tote to its designated storage location.
In addition, the system continuously analyzes system density, automatically reshuffling storage locations and signaling for replenishment as needed to maximize inventory availability and throughput. The addition of more shuttles and storage modules as needed allows AS/RS technology to scale in alignment with consumer demands.
Deploying order-picking technologies — such as pick-to-light modules that indicate the location and required quantity of a given item — generates substantial increases in order fulfillment accuracy and workforce productivity. Offered as a standalone or fully integrated, semi-automated material handling technology, tightly integrated pick-to-light hardware and software flexibly scale up (or down) to meet shifts in order volumes and seasonal peaks.
These systems also deliver greater insights into worker performance by providing real-time monitoring and support smart batch picking, building pick assignments based on priority, and enabling one picker to fill several orders in a single path through the warehouse.
Mobile workers have a critical place in the DCs of today and tomorrow. Given the challenges of their duties and the rapidly escalating demands of order fulfillment, it’s now more important than ever to empower these valued employees. Honeywell Voice does this and more by increasing productivity, improving accuracy, and promoting employee safety.
With the adaptability to integrate into virtually any workflow process — including receiving, cross-docking, let-down and more — DC operators now are better equipped than ever before to meet the demands of their customer service level agreements. Based on rugged, ergonomic hardware and robust speech-recognition software, Honeywell Voice enables communication among workers, your warehouse management system and other business systems.
Today, DCs and the technologies that power them are changing faster than ever. Many operations struggle to keep up with the speed and complexity of modern e-commerce. Manual processes are still the norm in many DCs, even though the demand for workers is outstripping the available labor pool by a ratio of six to one.
Fortunately, the latest wave of automation has arrived. Honeywell Robotics takes on the burden of the most physically demanding and injury-prone jobs, moving workers into safer and more enjoyable positions. From picking and singulation to unloading and palletizing, our broad portfolio of robotic innovations is designed to improve worker satisfaction, increase warehouse productivity, and ensure orders are fulfilled more rapidly and with greater accuracy than ever before.
Sponsored content by Honeywell Robotics.