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Pre-requisites to be done before implementing an ASRS system

A well organised and automated warehouse enables the company to manage demand and order fulfilment needs efficiently. With the evolving technologies, Automated storage and Retrieval Systems allow warehouses to maintain a required level of inventory of products ranging between large and heavy to exponentially small material to store. Rise of ecommerce sector into the ecosystem has increased the demand for ASRS more than any thing as it has increased the order fulfilment requirements per day and now the manual operation cannot keep up with the today’s demand needs.

Today the organisations are eager to pick a system that addresses their sweet spot. To determine that sweet spot, the objectives to go for ASRS come into the discussion; and that covers the enhanced storage capacity and the picking throughputs that ASRS infuses into a warehouse. It further goes onto defining the inventory that needs to be handled in the warehouse, redundancy in the current operation and other constraints. Once this discussion ends, it counts the cherries coming with the cake. ASRS can introduce several benefits into the warehouse such as controlled access to your valuable inventory, increased accuracy of operation, increased workers’ productivity and the most important their safety.

Now, when ASRS has become the norm, let’s consider the checklist below before starting the process.

Data is the king and Analysis is the queen:

Successful implementation of ASRS requires extensive physical data of all your inventory. The order data includes both historical and required projections. The complete information of the inventory levels, SKU velocity classification is also taken into due consideration before going for an ergonomic design. Specifically, the data must be modelled to predict the required size and throughput capabilities of the system in the future. The optimal tools for efficient operations are dictated by product mix, order rate, minimum order quantities and type of fulfilment process, all of which differ by facility.

System configuration:

It must be decided what type configuration the system will have. First, there are the electrical and software setup of the system to functionally run and keep up with the high demand of the manufacturing process. Second, the physical input and output points of the system must be setup to be in a central location for all storage and retrieval requests.

Operational clarity:

Material to be handled in full pallets, mixed pallets, cases or cartons, kitting operations etc, all have different attributes in their storage and retrieval operations. It is imperative to determine how the new ASRS will impact the entire fulfilment process, including upstream manufacturing processes and downstream shipping operations.

Usage of other materials:

It is important to pre-determine the use of carrier boards, slip sheets, totes, and pallets. Also, it should be noted whether they are captive in the system or will they be induced at some other point in the process.

Facility evaluation:

If your ASRS requires a new building or a building modification, one must have the knowledge of and experience with various regulations influencing the project. This is especially true when considering modifications that are needed to incorporate a new storage system within an existing facility.

Customization:

If your solution is customised, then it should include a combination of products that are most appropriate for your application. All the options must be properly weighed of whether to opt for unit load ASRS crane or Unit load shuttle system. It must be evaluated AGVs will be considered for movement or it will be done in combination of manual and conveyors. Picking operation and technologies selection also has an eminent role in the process.

Software:

A fool-proof existing software or altogether new software integration is required into the system. It will include Software integration with warehouse management (WMS), warehouse control (WCS), warehouse execution (WES) and any enterprise resource management (ERP) systems.

What to skip?

It is important to call out the vulnerabilities of the system that might pop up while implementing ASRS. Light-duty storage systems are particularly unfortified which fails to deliver well-engineered equipment and software. Such system requires a high level of maintenance and experience an entangled web of mechanical, electrical and software problems.

The impact of the same can be shattering to small and medium sized businesses. Interrupted ASRS service extends from bearing the toll of measurable losses such as lost production, shipping revenue, increased costs of repair etc, to intangible losses such as diminished workforce confidence in the company’s operation.

Hence it is advisable to knock it out from the field on time.

Get set Go!                                                                            

If the above check-list is up to the mark and you have dealt with all the vulnerabilities that might crumble down the operation, you can go-ahead with the implementation of ASRS into your system. Hence the basic rule for setting the pre-requisition for businesses looking at using technology and automation, is to identify the functions that need tech intervention, the efficiencies and results it can provide and the level of disruption the transition process is likely to create. Once these three variables are accounted for, a business should not hesitate to embrace technology and automation.

 

 

Warehouse Slotting- What do you need to know?

Aren’t you familiar with the organization of our office desks, book shelves, cup boards ..etc? Isn’t it the human tendency to keep the most used items to place at easily accessible locations? Like the basics like stoles, jeans & cardigans on the front row of the closet; daily reads on the top shelf; your VOIP connection to your left so you can pick your phone & still able to take notes..etc?. Yes, we all must have been there, and have done that. This is an everyday task of unconscious or sub-conscious slotting that most of us do in our way. Similarly, slotting is done in warehouse also & it is the activity of determining the most appropriate storage location for each item in your warehouse. Slotting is one of the fundamental activities of warehouse operations & plays a critical role in achieving operational efficiencies; however, it is a thankless job as often it gets shadowed under many other frontline activities such as picking, packing etc.

A warehouse’s entire operations are based on the slotting & a well-defined and carefully drafted slotting offers many benefits, especially w.r.t improving storage utilization and picking efficiency. Storage utilization is by ensuring each of the warehouse locations are utilized to the maximum of their capacity and to the best of their utility and picking efficiency is by reducing the picking travel and ensuring optimized paths. Efficient slotting also ensures less congestion, reduced no. of accidents, and less material damage.

How slotting is done in a warehouse?

Warehouse processes are sequence of steps through which product moves from it’s origin towards the customer and slotting is the way that decides how this happens.  Before we begin to see, how slotting is done, a warehouse manager must follow the below guidelines.

  • Keep the product moving; avoid starts and stops, which mean extra handling and additional space requirements.
  • Avoid layouts that impede smooth flow.
  • Identify and resolve bottlenecks to flow

To understand the above points better, an illustration of fluid model of product flow can be referred from the book of ‘Warehouse & distribution Science’.

While it comes to slotting, one of the most common methods is to find out which are the most frequently traded items? Here, the question is not about which are the products that noted highest sales, but it is about the no. of transactions? This is important because we must be doing the slotting basis this. So, to arrive at this data of which SKU is trading with frequency, observe the order profile for a period of 6 months or a year or two depending on the data availability and the accuracy level. The more data you have the better to understand the patterns. The same sort of analysis needs to be done to understand the warehouse locations; what are the sizes of these locations, what kind of SKUs they can hold, how these can be reached..etc, so that we can place in the most favorable location the fast selling product. In this way, identify all the SKUs & sort them with the highest no. of transactions (fast moving) to the lowest (slow moving items) and arrange them in locations to ensure a location gets highest no. of picks. However, it isn’t this simple in real scenario as the mapping of location & SKU itself require lot of decision making, examples like keeping heaviest items in lower positions, keeping items that are related and are picked together at one place, cold storage items at one place..etc. So, ultimately from location point of view, what we really need to look at is how many picks we can get out of a specific amount of pick face & from picking point of view, to get the most picks with the least amount of traveling.

Types of slotting in a warehouse

There are many types of slotting done inside a warehouse.

  1. Macro slotting – It refers to optimizing the overall layout of a warehouse. And it includes majorly working on the warehouse racking system arrangement.

Automation_Macro slotting_Addverb

Various pallet racking methods, such as conventional racking, Flying V model racking, and Fish bone model racking can be deployed here to achieve the required throughput and productivity rates. Also the challenges vary significantly with the warehouse size, location, nature of the business..etc and hence the slotting strategies need to be changed.

  1. Micro slotting – It refers to how individual items or pallets are placed in specific locations in the warehouse (from the zone on down to the specific shelf).

Addverb_Micro slotting_Blog

Under micro slotting, most popular methods are

(a) Heat map analysis: Heat map is essentially a tool to help understand the concentrations of warehouse activity like picking, packing, material movement from one place to another, all in all the concentration of labour at a place over time. It also provides a powerful visual image of where efficiency opportunities may exist within a warehouse operation.

(b) ABC Analysis: Pareto Principle or the 80-20 rule where 20% of product references take up 80% of the warehouse space and 80% of the stock comes from 20% of the suppliers. ABC simply classifies skus as A (the small fraction of SKUs that account for most of the activity), B (moderately important), or C (the bulk of the SKUs but only a small portion of the activity).

Batch Picking Vs Wave Picking – What is what?

In the previous blog on ‘Different Types of order picking in warehouse, we discussed briefly various types of order picking in a warehouse; in continuation to that, let’s delve in depth into the most common types of order picking, i.e., batch picking and wave picking, the differences between the two methods and when to use what.

Batch Picking: This is an order picking protocol that calls for the picker to compile a batch of the orders by picking from a single SKU or one SKU at a time. It helps to fulfill the order very fast by picking multiple orders at the same time. Single picker picks a batch of orders, which helps reduce repeated trips to the same location, essentially one location is visited only once by a picker. Let us illustrate this with an example;

Order1: 3 soaps, 5 shampoos, 3 Gels

Order2: 8 Shampoos, 5 Soaps

In case of batch picking, both the orders are combined for picking & when the picker goes to the soaps section, he picks all 8 soaps; and when he visits the shampoo section, he picks all 13 shampoos and then the 3 gels once. After that at the packing station, they will be packed into individual orders. In case of batch picking, many orders will include same SKUs, hence it is apt when your orders have minimal SKUs.

Batch picking is preferred when there is fewer no. of SKUs, typically 4-5 SKUs and each item is small, because this allows the picker to pick many items in his picking cart and bring them to the packing station. As it enables the picker to travel to a pick location only once while fulfilling many orders, it results in reduction of travel time as well as less congestion in the warehouse due to less traffic.

Batch picking is preferable when the warehouse size is smaller, as it helps in fast picking and less travel. In case of large warehouses, it is preferable when the SKU concentration at a location is high. Mostly, in case of batch picking, pickers use picking carts to pick and deliver the picked items to the packing stations unlike wave picking which utilizes conveyors, tilt-tray sorters etc.

Depending on the order volume, picking locations & manpower, warehouses can create one size batches, like all the batches have 50 orders per batch with an average no. of 3 SKUs per order.  Or warehouses can also create multi-size batches, where in the first batch can be of 50 orders with an average of 3 SKUs per order, and the next batch is of 25 orders with an average of 4 SKUs per batch.

Further optimized paths for these SKUs picking can be suggested by WMS or WCS if it is in place, thereby ensuring highest levels of picking efficiency, reduced travel time and labour requirement.

Wave Picking: Grouping of orders into waves is the first step in wave picking, it can be done on a small number of orders like 4 or 5 or on a large number of orders, like hundreds. In wave picking, picker picks one order and one SKU at a time & orders are grouped depending on the inventory characteristics, shipping routes, delivery schedules, shipping carrier, or even the type of packaging. After the picking, all the products will be brought to a staging area where sortation of them into individual orders will happen.

It can be illustrated with an example below;

Let us assume the warehouse got 50 orders to be fulfilled within a shift, out of this 50, let’s say 20 orders consist items from cold storage area, 10 orders are to be shipped to a specific location, and another 20 orders are to be packed in a glass packaging. So, there will be 3 waves to fulfill these 50 orders, and these 3 waves can be scheduled at different times, for different zones. Once the items in a wave are filled, they will be brought down to sorting area & then packed.

Orders for which all the items are picked during the wave can be sent for packing or wait till all the items for the orders get filled and then sent for packing, accordingly, it is called fixed wave picking and dynamic wave picking, respectively.

Batch Vs Wave: Which is the best?

One important distinction between batch picking and wave picking is that batch picking requires just one order picking window per shift. In contrast, wave picking may include multiple waves per shift.

In batch picking, average cubic size of the orders plays an important role in achieving the best picking rate, for some small businesses and warehouses, the pick rate can go as high as 200+ order lines per hour from 60-70 order lines per hour for single order picking. In case of wave picking, logical order flows make it more effective than straight forward or discrete order picking process and for businesses with large SKUs, batch picking creates heavy traffic and damages the picking efficiency, hence waves are recommended.

In batch picking, a picker makes only one trip to a location, greatly reducing the travel time, congestion and accidents in the warehouse. Whereas in wave picking, picking is always under control as waves can be allotted as per the requirement, like different zones, different timings which gives flexibility in terms of planning or coordinating other warehouse activities such as replenishment, packing, dispatch..etc.

So, both the methods are better in their own way and increases the picking productivity & efficiency and choosing which method to go with depends on the nature of the inventory, order profile characteristics, and the KPIs..etc. As wave picking deals with multiple SKUs, and several waves would be performed in a shift, it calls for some kind of automation to yield the best results in terms of sorter, conveyors, WMS..etc.

Automated Storage and Retrieval System

Reduced lead times, soaring real-estate prices, and the aggressive bottom-line targets made it imperative to adapt dense storage that helps in the maximization of floor space. When a wide variety of SKUs to be handled at an increasing rate Automated Storage and Retrieval System comes into picture. It is the most advanced material handling system that can promptly and accurately handle, store and retrieve products from designated storage locations in fully automated warehouses.

AS/RS or ASRS system consists of dense racking structure, Warehouse Execution/Management System and an SRM (Storage & Retrieval Machine) crane for material handling. It is widely used in production environments, distribution centers and warehouses.

Types of AS/RS Systems
AS/RS material handling systems are designed to handle large palletized loads as well as smaller loads that are usually stored in cartons and boxes. The one deal with large unit loads is unit-load AS/RS systems & the system that deals with cartons/totes is mini-load AS/RS system.

Some of the popular types of AS/RS or ASRS systems are:
• Unit-load AS/RS System
• Mini-load AS/RS System
• Carousal based AS/RS system and
• Vertical Lift Module (VLM)
As these systems locate and deliver necessary products to a conveyor system or operator station automatically, they help in achieving greater throughput, reduction in manual labour and optimization of inventory levels. This, in turn, helps the organization enjoy higher productivity and improved accuracy as compared to traditional storage and distribution techniques.

How does AS/RS Work?
AS/RS follows a computerized process that assists with the management and maintenance of stored products and materials in fully automated warehouses.
The operator enters the details regarding the product that is required and how many units are required. Then the computer determines where the product has been stored, what is the best way to retrieve it quickly and then executes the program to retrieve the required product(s) with the help of integrated equipment.
Storage –Products and materials that are to be stored are placed in the input station. Then the operator punches in the details regarding the designated storage space. Then the AS/RS system takes the product to the selected storage location and offloads it there.

Retrieval –Once the operator punches in the requirements, WES/WMS directs the AS/RS system towards the exact storage location, from where the product will be retrieved and delivered to the designated location. Automatically the inventory gets updated on a real-time basis as and when the products are stored or retrieved.

When to use AS/RS?
AS/RS systems are commonly used in industrial applications under the following circumstances:
• When picking and shipping speed is of utmost priority
• When storage space is a concern and storage density must be increased
• When a large volume of products is to be handled on a daily basis
• When the safety of stored goods is of utmost priority
• When storage, retrieval, and shipping are the only operational aspects of a business

Benefits of AS/RS

AS/RS systems are widely used for streamlining the warehousing functions in business and greatly helps in achieving the following benefits:
• Maximization of floor space: AS/RS system utilizes height of the warehouse offering higher density through narrower aisle space
• Inventory Management: AS/RS system provides all data related to inventory levels, storage period, and lead times that drive efficient inventory management.
• Fast & Accurate: AS/RS system gives high throughput with utmost accuracy in fetching and storing the load.
• Safe and secure operation: Complete automation and reduced number of touches to the material ensure safe & secure warehouse operations.
• Process Improvement: AS/RS system ensures the seamless functioning of various supply chain processes. This helps in saving time and cost, as well as increasing the efficiency of operations.

Automated Storage and Retrieval System help industrial warehouses comply with complex warehousing requirements effortlessly and are a worthy investment to make the warehouse future-proof. It’s the most advanced & fully automatic system, that provide maximum space utilization through usage vertical storage structure.

Which factors to keep in mind before implementing a Goods to Person Automation Solution to your warehouse?

Have you ever imagined what caused the implementation of Goods to person automation solutions in the warehouses? For decades, warehouses used person to goods solutions to fulfill the supply chain requirements. But with the growth in e-commerce and change in market dynamics, Goods to person automation solutions are gaining popularity as the panacea to solve the present-day demands. Though Goods to person picking solutions have recently gained a lot of traction, their existence dates back as decades old. However, new technology and software advancements have resulted in its efficient functionality and optimum productivity.

On one hand, companies are exploring options like Material handling robots and shuttle robots to increase throughput with the increasing number of SKUs. On the other hand, companies with a low number of SKUs but high-volume storage requirements are also opting for goods to person automation. So, let’s understand what are some of the situations that make you think of giving serious consideration for Goods to Person automation.

• Does your warehouse require significantly high picking throughputs than through manual picking methods?
• Do you plan to utilize the vertical space of your warehouse and get an additional storage area?
• Does your warehouse host a huge number of SKUs and with high velocities?
• Does your inventory prone to external circumstances and hence require special safety?
• Recently it has been found that 87% of the theft occurs in warehouses and freight yards. Does your warehouse also report increased pilferage?
• Are you facing increased picking travel and reduced throughputs?
• Do you require complete accuracy in your retrieval and storage operations?
• Do you require an ergonomic way for the movements in your warehouse?
Goods to person automation should be seen from the lens of process automation, as there is no single solution that can solve your problem in its entirety. Hence, a plug and play approach to combine the solutions which suit best to your operation will result in the successful deployment of automation. There is rarely a single G2P solution that suits every distribution center and its SKU storage demands.

Depending on the operation, pickers in many G2P environments can achieve 500-plus lines per-hour (LPH). This is comparatively much higher than what is achieved in a P2G environment. Inventory profiling through ABC classification of goods is one of the pre-requisites before deciding to go with P2G or G2P automation.
Companies like Kiva, Dematic, Swisslog, GreyOrange, Autostore are working towards introducing innovative technologies and are evolved to deal with the rapid and accurate throughput for a growing number of SKUs and low volume orders. Addverb as a global robotics company has evolved to disrupt the Goods to person automation sphere providing process automation to your current operating facility. Its wide range of portfolios includes shuttle robots and mobile robots which enable end to end G2P automation in your warehouse system. Right now, 3PL’s are increasingly looking at G2P automation capabilities but it may take a few more years for them to completely go with G2P.

So, after breaking the pallets the individual cartons have to be stored efficiently and have to be retrieved quickly for order packing. Hence quick throughputs for the material handling are important, to achieve the same was invented the carton shuttle system as a mini-form of the Pallet Shuttle.

Demystifying the warehouse code: Warehouse Software

Once I make up my mind, I’m full of indecision”-Oscar Levant

A user of WMS/WCS in any warehouse goes through the initial phase of indecision about the implementation of the system. Every warehouse automation solution is supported by the backbone Called, the software. The invisible but the predominant part in Jigsaw. But the fact that warehouse software is masked over by the complexity of the hardware, makes it even more elusive.

Warehouse Automation
WMS (Warehouse Management System), WCS (Warehouse Control system) and WES (Warehouse Executive System) are all three distinct but at times overlapping warehouse software in the functionality. Exploring the specific functionalities of each solution in-depth and pinpointing where the systems intersect will allow businesses to determine which functions best meet their needs, and in turn, which system or combination of systems will be best-fit.

Warehouse Management System

A WMS is a specifically designed business application/ warehouse software that controls the flow of inventory into, within and out of a company’s distribution center (DC). The span of control is from the management of the flow of inventory, labor tasks and orders from receipt to shipping. It has come a long way from just providing information on a storage location. It is now build-up with an arsenal of functionality capable of catering to various applications.
There is a different type of WMS available in the market. Some of them are standalone and can be deployed on native hardware. While there are cloud-based WMS also, which provides better flexibility and security to the businesses.

Warehouse Control System

A WCS is a real-time, integrated control solution that manages the flow of items, cartons and pallets as it travels on many types of automated equipment, such as conveyors, sorters, ASRS, pick to light, carrousels, print and apply, merges and de-casing lines. The WCS provides a single point of control to efficiently direct and manage these automated solutions. Once inside the warehouse, the WCS checks on the velocity of the movement of goods and their location at any point of time.

Warehouse Execution system

WES can be termed as a hybrid of WCS and WMS, in terms of functionality. Commonly WES comprises nearly all functions of WCS and some functions of WMS. The idea with WES is to optimize based on what is happening with order priorities as well as synchronize all the different materials handling systems.

The Overlap

Tasks in the warehouses can be broadly classified in WMS, WCS or WES. Some of these tasks overlap with each other as depicted below.Warehouse Automation

What is right for you?

The answer to this question is that “It depends the answer to this question is subjective but can be made objective by asking relevant questions. Understanding the way inventory moves throughout a facility is key in determining which solution is the best fit. 1. What is the level of automation in the facility?
2. What is the movement pattern of inventory inside the warehouse?
3. Is this a 3PL with multiple customers with a single sign-on requirement?
4. How many end-users are served by the facility?
5. How important is inventory management in your operation?
6. What is the pace of inventory movement in the warehouse?
When evaluating the best fit, it is essential to properly forecast future expansion requirements. As the solutions can be expensive to implement and maintain, the correct understanding and complete thought through requirements would help you in getting the most appropriate solution at the fair price.

Key factors to consider before implementing Pallet Shuttle (Cruiser)

Well begun is half done as the saying goes. The same is true while making a decision to implement a pallet shuttle in a warehouse storage setting. The decision to implement a Pallet Shuttle (Cruiser) makes the job half done, but how to implement it will lead to another important part of the question, which requires careful thinking. It is important that the solution should last long, sustain the rigor of operations, and achieve the required throughput along with achieving the highest safety standards. For all this, there are some important check-points to be verified before implementing the system and we would like to ponder over them.

Planning is Everything: The basic floor plan needs to consider such things as location of receiving and shipping docks, where the staging areas are, the racking vendor and layout, pallet shuttle, budget, and timelines for the whole project… etc.. While allocating budget during investment decision, it is very important to work out a cost-benefit analysis. One should keep in view that the best solution need not be the cheapest solution. An investment made should be able to justify by working for a long period without having to make frequent changes to adapt to increasing demands of storage and throughput.

In the case of a greenfield project, it is recommended that the height of the structure needs to be built keeping in mind the scalability and future requirements.

Let’s divide the pre-requisites into 3 major components:
1. Pallet Racking System: Pallet Shuttle (Cruiser) runs in specially designed rails supported by pallet racking frames fitted with special support beams. Clearance above load and opening are kept in such a manner so that space can be utilized fully. Entry width can be adjusted to suit various kinds of loads. Before installing the racks, it is important to ensure that industrial flooring with appropriate specifications, finish and grade is laid out.
Key points to inspect are:
– Floor Levelling: Civil construction anomalies cause leveling differences on the floor anywhere between 2mm to 10mm. This surface unevenness can lead to excessive vibration on lift trucks while moving, gaps at the joints of the rail/track which leads to early wear and tear of the shaft and wheels of pallet shuttle. In fact, these leveling differences make the whole system unstable. So, it is essential to carry out a compliance check of floor leveling as per FEM 9.831 standard. Within the permissible limits, we use “simplets” to make the flooring even, thereby ensuring the entire racking structure would be sturdy.

– Floor Capacity: The second most important thing to be considered is the floor capacity, which plays a key role in deciding the number of levels a warehouse can accommodate. In a dense racking system using a Pallet Shuttle (Cruiser), the height of the racking can go up to as high as 15 meters. So, to decide the number of levels the criteria of point load or per square meter load must be measured accurately.

– Seismic Zone: While building the entire system, seismicity of the zone needs to be considered and accordingly the design of racking structural members, dimensions & supporting systems must be carried out. In a seismic zone of 4 and 5 classifications, the thickness of the upright, width, supporting systems like bracing structure, densely inter-twined side beams.. etc will essentially play a major role in finalizing the layout and design.

– Channel end Stopper: At the beginning and end of the rail channel, stoppers have to be installed to prevent the shuttle overriding from its end stop position.

– Sprinkler System: The roof / In-rack sprinkler system needs to be implemented as a best practice to prevent the chance of fire mishaps within the storage system.

– Forklift fenders: Guards for the racking system to prevent bumping of a forklift on to the racking system.

2. Pallet Shuttle: Pallet Shuttle (Cruiser) facilitates movement & storage of pallets in the dense racking system. Simple instruction will be sent to the shuttle by the operator using the remote-control unit. The shuttle checks the dimension of the pallet load and aligns itself at the assigned point before lifting and moving the load. After placing a pallet in the channel at the predetermined position, usually the last empty position in the channel, the shuttle will automatically return to the front face to receive the next load. The same is applicable in case of retrieval assignment, where the shuttle finds the first pallet in the rail & brings it to the front of the channel to feed the forklift. Absolute LIFO/FIFO options could be configured.

– Supply Chain Integration: Any automation solution needs to be integrated with the existing systems for seamless functionality. In the case of a pallet shuttle, it is important to establish a communication protocol with the right parameters among all the inter-connected systems like Pallet Shuttle PLC system, WCS, WMS/ERP system.

– Peripheral Equipment: VMT (Vehicle Mounted Terminal) may need to be implemented with the ERP system to make the operating process smooth, efficient and paperless.

– Reach Truck selection: Reach trucks come with various features like advanced auto-level settings, sound alarms, vision systems. etc. Throughput, number of levels, and the overall project budget are to be kept in mind and accordingly suitable reach trucks need to be finalized.

– Vision System: In cases where the racking system is beyond certain limits of height, forklifts with integrated vision systems are employed. This vision system facilitates ease to forklift operators to see the racking and load beyond normal eye level for better placement of shuttle/load.

– Storage Pattern: The higher one goes the longer the operation cycle time. Hence fast-moving items should be kept at the entry of the aisle which facilitates quick retrieval and not sacrifices retrieval time.

3. Safety:– Cautionary signs, safety notices and fire suppression/first aid equipment must be placed in work areas prone to accidents, thus preventing mishaps by sensitizing peoples working in and around the system. These MUST also be in accordance with the applicable codes of the city, county, and federal regulations. It is always a good practice to have these caution and signboards in local spoken/read the language to increase acceptance. – Limit switches: They ensure the movement of shuttle cars within battery limits. – Persistent Speed Monitoring System: This will ensure that the shuttle runs constantly at the programmed speed, this feature will help the shuttle work satisfactorily as per design norms.

An automated Pallet Shuttle naturally places high expectations on account of throughput and efficiency. An extensive analysis of your inventory characteristics, storage pattern, safety requirements & local regulations will provide many views on the automation prerequisites, thereby helping to achieve enhanced operational parameters. A competent and experienced team of experts will aid in achieving better project planning, design, procurement of all systems and execution of a Pallet Shuttle project.

Being the largest selling pallet shuttle company in India, we bring a diverse and wide industry exposure in implementing a pallet shuttle system. To know more reach us at automate@addverb.in

LIFO/FIFO applications of Pallet Shuttle

Movement of stock within a warehouse is very critical as the warehouse is the backbone of logistics and supply chain management. The movement is based on how the goods inward happen, where the stock is stored and how the outbound flows. The storage logic should be based on maximum space utilization with no stock damage and the movement logic should always ensure quick and easy movement of goods. Along with product characteristics, the movement of stored goods in LIFO/FIFO fashion depends on the layout of the warehouse, storage space available, costing and sometimes the method of accounting. etc.

Pallet Shuttle is a compact semi-automated pallet storage solution that operates independently to move the pallets inside the racking system. Remote-controlled pallet shuttle is a highly efficient alternative to live storage and drive-in racking and can be used in both LIFO/FIFO alternatives.

Optimization of space with FIFO / LIFO
Pallets can be stored and retrieved either as FIFO or as LIFO. A FIFO system requires two access aisles- one to load the pallets and the other to unload them. Whereas LIFO can have just one access aisle.

FIFO (First In First Out)
Using the first in first out method ensures that the first stock that comes into your warehouse is the first to go out. It is possible for two shuttles to be operated in the same lane. These are controlled from both entry points and a no collision model is available. This FIFO system is relative, or by batch, recommended for the complete loading, or unloading of a level.

Application – FIFO ensures perfect fast-moving rotation with maximum space efficiency, high turnover of material. FIFO operation is best suited where perishable goods like Food, Medicine, Cosmetic or Products with limited shelf-life and seasonal stock.

LIFO
LIFO pallet racking systems are ideal for any warehouse that needs to maximize storage and, products have no expiration or obsolescence, so the first pallet stored is not necessarily the first one to be retrieved. This is because LIFO racking works by positioning the most recently stored inventory to be picked first and enabling dense storage density. Pallet shuttle – automated storage is the perfect solution in this storage method because it allows automatic storing and retrieving from the same side of the racking system.

Application – LIFO operations are best adopted in situations such as cold storage where operating personnel have to endure cold temperatures for a long duration and it becomes difficult and expensive to expand storage area in any warehouse. In such cases, a Pallet shuttle can provide better utilization of existing space. Examples of industries that could adopt LIFO: Beverages– where the SKUs are less and the turnover is high; Textiles – where the SKUs are less and the expiration is not of concern.

Benefits of using Dense Storage System through Pallet Shuttle

– Maximizing Storage density
– Increase productivity by reducing the amount of time taken to travel between storage locations
– Easy to handle material with the large volume of SKUs on shop floor/warehouse
– Maximum exploitation of the stock volume
We can enhance performance efficiency in any warehouse by deploying an adequate number of shuttles. We guarantee the highest possible storage density for any application to deploy our pallet shuttle. We have the highest market share in India for pallet shuttles. Find the perfect fit pallet racking storage solution for your requirement @ADDVERB!!

Light Up Your Warehouse: Pick to light

Light directed picking has emerged as one of the important picking technologies for faster order fulfillment with great accuracies. Before implementing the PTL systems into your warehouse storage zones/aisles, here we take a look at the important points that need to be thoroughly worked upon to earn the best ROI from automation:

1. Know your product SKU volumes: Pick-To-Light systems are the fastest picking methodology in the segment – “person to good” system. They are used for high throughput (fast-moving) SKUs. Light directed picking gives the highest pick rate in case of break pack picking and is equally effective for full case dispatch. These fast-moving SKUs are brought together to a picking zone, which is different from the storage zone. They are stored close to each other in a dense form. Every SKU has 1-12 cartons (cases) stored in this pick zone. They are regularly replenished. They are either stored in a shelving rack or carton flow racks. An SKU can get more than one lane depending on the velocity of the SKU. Usually, these light-directed systems are used in zone picking formats, where an order tote moves on a conveyor/ trolley, stopping at individual zones, and the pickers in that respective zone pick & place the items required for the order from that zone. Typically a warehouse deploys 500 to 10000 lights for their top SKUs in light-directed picking.

2. Integration is the Key: Swift integration of the Pick-To-Light systems into the existing WMS/WCS/Enterprise software of the warehouse is very critical to realize the productivity gains through automation.

3. Throughput: Pick-To-Light systems are highly accurate and usually give a very high throughput Generally, with Pick-to-Light systems, the order pick rates would run between 120 and 400 lines per hour with an accuracy of 99.5 to 99.7%. This would entail a redesigning of the picking philosophy to reap the benefits of the light directed picking in true sense.

4. Evaluate alternatives: Do Cost-benefit Analysis – Once the objectives are finalized, the next thing is to check for the best possible way of achieving the solution. For a stated objective there are multiple ways of order fulfillment so evaluate all the other options, RF Picking, voice, vision. Light directed operation is an umbrella of various lighting techniques like sequential and simultaneous picking.
Evaluation of vendors to be carried out taking multiple factors into consideration like the technical expertise to integrate PTL into the existing systems; the light technology being offered – the processor, number of lights, functionality; flexibility of the vendor to customize hardware and software, etc. Deep understanding of the warehouse operations, warehousing design & the proficiency in handling smooth integration of new technologies is of paramount importance in choosing the vendor.

5. Semi-Automation is the new norm: Semi automation is the latest norm across the warehouses, where only the critical parts of the supply chain are being automated to boost productivity. With the growing variety of products stored in warehouses & the complexities of the warehouse operations, one solution/technology does not serve the purpose well. In order picking also, it is very common & cost-effective to use PTL systems for the critical zones/ aisles & the rest of the picking zones can be with other picking technologies.

6. Use data efficiently to realize full benefits: Data speaks volumes & data is everything in the world of IIoT. With the ever-rising competition for providing superior customer experiences & achieving operational efficiencies every step of the order needs to be traced. Light directed picking systems provide real-time analytics that can be utilized to study the storage patterns & the performance analytics for performance improvement in terms of speed/accuracy/overall productivity etc.

As the saying goes, “One that gets measured can be managed & improved”. Automation comes at a cost, and to measure the return on investment, businesses need to be crystal clear on the objectives they wish to achieve through automation. For the PTL solution to achieve the desired goal it is very important to have a comprehensive understanding of the challenges that business is facing in order fulfillment. For instance:

1. Picking speed of the people
2. Time to train the workforce
3. The attrition rate in the warehouse
4. Lower picking rates than the industry average
5. Demographics of the labor (multi-lingual people, gender), etc.

By proper analysis of these challenges, a business can arrive at measurable goals in terms of no. of orders to be picked per day, reduction of labor costs by x%, reduction of reverse logistics costs due to mis-ships by y% .etc. In the end, a light-directed picking is for sure going to drive these parameters up north.

P.S. Light is also used for sorting applications. More about it in the next blog. Keep watching this space.