Warehouse Automation

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Warehouse Automation

In current age of industrialisation, manufacturing activities are continuously expanding, thanks to the ever-growing demand for products. In this scenario, warehousing has gained  tremendous importance in the supply chain. The warehouse is a crucial link between a manufacturing facility and its suppliers,

as it governs the flow of materials and ultimately affects productivity.WAREHOUSE AUTOMATION

Warehouse automation is an upcoming technology in India. However, implementation of this technology is limited to the large players, while most SMEs in India have yet to adopt it. SME’s generally do not have long-term plans, and hence look for immediate results from their investments. Warehouse automation requires considerable investment in the beginning, while the benefits are only realized after a while. SMEs generally do not work with such business models. However, as the need for efficient warehousing and traceability grows, even smaller warehouses are being compelled to introduce some degree of automation into their processes. Over the past few years, several types of automation systems and modules have been developed for warehouses.

Automated Storage Retrieval System (AS/RS)
AS/RS is an automation system with high-rise racks that are loaded and unloaded using automatic storage machines within the aisle.

Automatic Guided Vehicles (AGVs)
These can be used to transport, store and retrieve loads for warehouses, which are mainly associated with the manufacturing and shipping industries.

Automated carousels are used in warehouse to move loads to a pick-and-drop station.

Real-Time Warehouse Control Systems (RTWCS)
RTWCS integrates materials handling, data management, and human resources to achieve Computer Integrated Warehousing (CIW).

Advantages of Warehouse Automation for SMEs
Warehouse automation can offer several advantages for SMEs, which usually have limited floor space. For instance, warehouse automation systems AS/RS ensures high-density material storage by optimising the use of the available cubic space. SMEs can also save the costs spent on managing inventory, as warehouse automation systems enhance inventory control through computerisation. With warehouse automation, both SMEs and larger players can ensure higher accuracy and efficiency in their inventory tasks. This ultimately leads to cost optimization for the firms.

AS/RS integrates the storage system with the manufacturing and distribution systems through computer control logic. This enhances material security, system performance and thus the bottom line. Warehouse automation is an important tool for saving on the costs incurred in material replacement and manpower. Automation can thus help on manpower-related direct costs.

Automating warehouse operations can be an attractive supply chain option for many businesses, offering the benefits of low-staffing requirements, efficient logistics operations and accurate service delivery. Warehouse automation also helps in reducing costs, improving productivity and accuracy, while giving complete visibility of the inventory data.

Implementing Automation
Warehouse automation requirements are individual, and hence should be addressed individually. One of the most successful approaches, which both SMEs  and big players can use, is developing a Warehouse Strategic Master Plan (WSMP). It is the blueprint for warehouse automation, to be implemented over the next eight to ten years. WSMP considers aspects such as facilities, manpower, machinery, and inventory required as per the business plan.

Future Trends
Indian industry players, including SMEs, are now planning to develop centrally automated warehouses. They have realised that it is better to have a few efficient centralized inventories than several small distribution centers, which are difficult to track and maintain. Order picking is another area in warehouse automation that is expected to gain momentum in the near future. Automated order picking system will employ minimal human labour, and will be more flexible, sensitive and modular. Consequently, conveyorised  picking systems will have a more significant role in warehousing. Remote server, RFID, electronic ticketing, and barcodes will be among the important developments in warehousing automation in India.

Industries in India need to realize the significance of warehouse automation to survive amid growing competition. With economic liberalization in India, sectors such as manufacturing have grown tremendously, as has the need for efficient warehousing. Through automating their warehouse, Indian SMEs can improve their inventory accuracy and save significantly on labour costs.

What  Oracle Offers
Over the past several years, Oracle has brought to bear the full force of its software research and development power to renew and deepen its Warehouse Management Solution . Now a leader in this arena, Oracle’s investment has delivered hundreds of advanced features and offers unprecedented flexibility in deployment regardless of your existing application footprint.
Oracle WMS delivers operational flexibility, optimized warehouse processes, seamless hand-offs with key value chain processes, and pre-integration of advanced warehouse technologies.
Following are the results of few of the customers who use Oracle WMS:
•    Agilent Technologies increased inventory accuracy to over 99%
•    Fellowes increased on-time shipments to be consistently over 95%
•    McData reduced total inventory by 75%
•    Chang’an Motors saved $3.4M through improved shipping and inventory
•    Grupo Abril increased truck load shipments by 26%
•    Royal Appliance Manufacturing Company increased inventory location accuracy from 50% to 98%
•    Polpharma reduced warehouse staffing needs by 50%
•    Denby increased picker productivity by over 200%
•    Metalsa reduced inventory write-offs by 10%

Rajendra Shah

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