PPMA Show 2021 is an essential event for businesses involved in machinery for warehousing and logistics operations. The show will take place at the NEC, Birmingham.
Warehousing logistics drive businesses
From goods in to goods out and thereafter to end users, warehousing and logistics systems are a core priority for all businesses handling materials. Modern systems are driving efficiencies and cost reduction throughout national and international supply chains. New technology and equipment is increasing the speed and accuracy of operations, as well as safety and energy efficiency. It is vital for businesses in the sector to remain informed about new ways of making their businesses more competitive and profitable.
What is warehouse automation?
Automated warehouses are having a far-reaching impact on every aspect of materials handling, storage and distribution. Today’s warehouses are increasing the use of advanced technology and equipment with staff whose responsibilities are to operate systems rather than perform manual duties.
Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) can be configured to control handling and movement of goods throughout the warehouse. A WMS will also
- provide full records of the handling of any goods
- provide valuable information for optimising the flow through the warehouse
- feed into AI (artificial intelligence) programmes, if applicable
- integrate with demand-driven triggers for the dispatch of goods
Warehouse Goods in
The starting point for warehousing operations is unloading goods delivered to the warehouse. Manually operated forklifts and trucks can lift off pallets and containers, but advances in control systems allow operators to be removed from the immediate loading bay environment. Semi-automated or fully automated unloading equipment, including self-guided platforms, can operate at higher speeds and without risk of injury to operators.
Checking, sorting and labelling equipment prepares goods for onward transport to storage locations within the warehouse.
Once unloaded, the movement to a storage area can be managed by a WMS, or an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS). Goods will be moved quickly using physical means of transport such as trucks and conveyors.
Locations can be picked to optimise the use of space in a warehouse. By intelligently selecting locations, ‘first in, first out’ operation is possible, avoiding all the problems associated with a ‘first in, last out’ approach.
Where assembly lines are integrated within warehouses, an efficient supply of materials to production areas is absolutely essential. With intelligent, data-driven movement of goods, assembly lines can operate at maximum efficiency.
Pick lists are a key tool in warehouse operations. Traditionally this would involve a print-off, ideally with accurate locations, assigned to a warehouse operative who would collect the goods from racks and bin locations. In automated systems, digital pick lists are sent to automated trucks which can select goods from any warehouse location, quickly and efficiently.
Dispatch and Goods Out
A WMS can also consolidate units, and as a result reduce transport and dispatch costs. Accuracy in dispatch operations is essential, since errors can put complete warehouses on hold. Final quality and quantity checks at a staging area prepare goods for shipment, with individual packs combined and positioned for onward transport.
What are the advantages of ASRS?
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) are designed to operate at floor levels and heights, including all the way to the ceiling of a warehouse. High rise systems using vertical storage saves space and can be controlled by touch pads or online. A single operator can control multiple lifting trucks.
Systems can also feature driverless trucks which operate continuously, and automated pallet stackers which operate at low and full height levels. Geonavigation systems guide trucks and mobile equipment using laser sensors and 3D cameras. Altenatively, guidance systems rely on below floor cabling, guide rails and light reflectors. In all systems where data is processed centrally, it is possible to coordinate the movement of all trucks on the system with optimum efficiency and without the danger of collisions.
ASRS can be designed for use with pallets, using high speed forklifts with laser range finders and vibration control systems. Systems can also be designed for buckets, cartons and cases for small items and partly finished products.
An investment in ASRS can deliver greater efficiency, speed, safety, accuracy, durability and space usage.
Visitors to PPMA SHOW 2021 will benefit from seeing the latest developments in machinery and automation for warehousing and logistics. Come and see our PPMA members at the NEC. We look forward to seeing you there.