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Pickathon: Order Picking

Technology has fundamentally altered our lives. It has led to the disruption of business models and the development of innovative products to drive up efficiency. “Industrial Revolution” led to mass manufacturing and an increase in the scale of operation, this led to the creation of big factories followed by large warehouses. Warehouses have become the cornerstone of supply chain management and the warehousing process elements have become the source of the proverbial “Competitive Advantage”.

One of the most pivotal parts of the warehousing process is “Order Picking”. Research has pegged the cost of the “Order Picking” process at approximately 55% of the total warehouse operating cost. With such critical importance, it becomes imperative to look at the factors that determine the outcome of the “Order Picking” process. Order Picking primarily depends on the following factors:

1. Level Of Automation: Warehouses can be completely manual, semi-automated or fully automated. The degree of automation involved impacts the service levels of Order Picking.

2. Layout Of Warehouse: Building a warehouse depends on customer demand, economy, product consumption pattern, accessibility and inventory levels. These collectively determine the layout of the warehouse for instance number of aisles, storage locations, etc. This, in turn, determines the methodology.

3. Operational Policies: One of the critical factors on which Order Picking depends is operational policies/decisions. They comprise of storage patterns, customer demand patterns, routing and order release mode.

4. Methodology: Order Picking methodology can be broadly classified as:

Person-To-Item: The person (Picker) goes to different storage locations to collect the items.
Item-To-Person: The person (Picker) collects the items from a picking bay. Through equipment such as sorter, conveyor, etc. items are put in picking bay from the storage area.
Zone Picking: The entire warehouse storage locations are divided into sub-units (Zones). Each person (Picker) picks only items of the order which fall in his zone. Zones are activated in serial order, one after the other. The order is complete after passing through the last zone.
Wave Picking: In this again, the entire warehouse storage locations are divided into sub-units, items from different orders from one zone are picked together and consolidation and final sorting of orders happen later.

Key parameters to determine the proficiency of Warehouse Order Picking  are:

Delivery Time: This is the time taken from releasing order to completion of the order and final delivery of order for dispatch. A manual system such a Person-To-Item leads to high variability resulting in irregular dispatch and loss of flexibility. Shorter delivery time ensures more bandwidth to handle run-time changes in the order. Minimizing the Delivery time is the primary measure of an Order Picking System.
Reliability or Order Integrity: Picking up the correct item is critically important as a wrong order can lead to a disgruntled customer.

Correct picking ensures that a company is able to meet the demand of the customer on-time every time. The person-to-item methodology is the most commonly used methodology in warehouses today, typically it involves quite a lot of human interface and leads to a lot of variability in the operation. On average a Picker usually spends 70% of his time traveling and searching. With so much time spent on this activity and only 15% of the time spent in actual picking, the rest of the time is spent in setting-up and completing the pick ( validating the checklist). This entire process has a lot of scope for improvement. Add to the fact that the organizations face a lot of attrition at the level of Pickers. Quite a lot of time is wasted in training the new pickers and optimizing their working routes and working patterns. Going ahead, we shall take a look at how Addverb harnesses the technology to automate the Order Picking and address the inefficiencies.

Pallet Shuttle – A Warehouse Space Odyssey

In the next decade, as much as 85% of the businesses are projected to adopt a digital route around the globe thanks to Industry 4.0. With increased impetus on scalability across geographies, speedy deliveries and the demand for global products, continual innovation in the logistics & warehousing sector has emerged as the need of the hour for all businesses.

Be it e-commerce, food retail or manufacturing giants, the location of their warehousing facilities is one of the pivotal pillars for their operational excellence and supply chain planning. Ideally, warehouses need to be closer to the cities to reduce the transit time for goods. However, close-by lands often come with higher rentals. An optimal solution in such cases of higher rentals is to utilize the height of the warehouse in an efficient manner. Flying high does make sense if you intend to utilize the space of the warehouse efficiently. To utilize the height of the distribution centers and warehouses, it is essential that they equip themselves with Pallet Shuttle which assists in increasing the warehouse space through vertical stacking of the inventory.

What is Pallet Shuttle and how does it work?

Pallet Shuttle is a semi-automated compact storage solution that reduces operating costs while simultaneously improving the efficiency of the warehouse storage. Pallet Shuttle facilitates dense racking, which does not require aisles between storage racks, thereby efficiently utilizing the warehouse space.
In traditional storage systems, forklifts drive through each of the aisles and store pallets in the racks. However, in these systems, the depth of storage is compromised as a lot of space gets wasted to make room for forklift’s movement. Through dense racking, Pallet Shuttles have reduced this dependence on forklifts, thereby maximizing the space that can be used for storage. In a Semi-Automatic Dense Racking storage system, the operator only needs to drive the forklift that places the pallets on the channel’s entrance. Then the operator activates the pallet shuttle by sending a remote wi-fi signal. Thereafter, Pallet Shuttle moves the pallets horizontally until it finds an available location, where it deposits the pallet. Pallet Shuttle then returns to the entrance of the channel and repeats the process till the entire channel is filled. A similar process is used to retrieve the goods from racks as well.

Advantages of using Pallet Shuttles

• High Storage Space: Through Pallet Shuttle, aisles can be eliminated in warehouses as forklifts are not required for end-to-end loading and unloading. In dense racking, you can store 2.84 Pallet /m. sq. as compared to 1 Pallet / m. sq.
• High Throughput: Since operators aren’t required to drive the forklift in the aisles, loading and unloading time reduces considerably
• Scalability: You can easily customize the dense racking systems according to your requirements. More shuttles can be easily employed as the per production requirements. Also, Pallet Shuttles can work in both FIFO and LIFO mode.
• Safety: Pallet Shuttle is equipped with safety sensors and an automatic braking system to avoid any collision and accident.
• Ease of Operation: The system is quite easy to install, maintain and run.
• Maintenance: Owing to the way the structure has been built, chances of damage to the metallic racks are minimum. Also, the shuttles require minimum maintenance

Application of Pallet Shuttles

• Although Pallet Shuttles are quite customizable, when we consider economies of scale or special circumstances then the following industries will benefit the most from it: –
• Warehouses that require higher throughput. This translates to a high number of pallet storage locations(More than 5000).
• Seasonal Products: Pallet Shuttle system comes in handy when items are stored all throughout the year, but the withdrawal of the products happens extremely fast based on the season.
• Captive Distribution Centers: Pallet Shuttle based dense racking system is very beneficial for large captive DCs that are attached to factories in the FMCG sector
• Cold Storage: Attaining cold temperature becomes increasingly difficult and expensive upon expanding the size of the warehouse. Here, Pallet Shuttles can provide immense relief by utilizing the existing space efficiently.
• Beverage Industry: It is ideal for operations where the number of Stock Keeping Units is less, and the inventory turnover is high.

Pallet Shuttle – Cruiser: What Lies Within

Warehouses in India have witnessed a transition from manual operations to fast and reliable automated processes. One of the key changes as highlighted in our earlier piece, “Warehouse Odyssey” has been the transition from “Traditional Racking” and forklift-based operations to “Dense Racking” and Pallet Shuttle based operations. Pallet Shuttle enables organizations to gain a competitive advantage and increase the storage and throughput capacity of their warehouses.
Consequently, Pallet Shuttles are one of the most adopted technologies across the globe and Cruiser, pallet shuttle manufactured by Addverb is one of the largest deployed Pallet Shuttle in India. It’s imperative to understand what enables Cruiser to gain such an edge, how does it function, how does it ensure a SAFE operation. To understand all these aspects, let us explore the nitty-gritty of what makes Cruiser, our Pallet Shuttle, one of the most coveted and popular Pallet Shuttles in India.

PLC Control system:
The heart of the entire Cruiser system is a ‘PLC-based control system’. This PLC control system takes the input commands given through a tablet on an android platform & processes them based on a customized program & takes decision-related to storage and delivery operations. This PLC control system ensures accurate control of the Cruiser movement on the rails of the dense racks.

Sensors & Customized Bumpers:
They form another part of the crucial components that help in achieving the safety feature, for both humans & shuttle. The sensors detect the obstacle and alert the shuttle to slow its speed & stop at a defined distance with respect to the obstacle. The bumper is a protective device installed on the front of Cruiser to protect its front from collisions with material/human. It avoids potential trapping or crushing risks. The customized bumper fitted with bumper guards on both sides in the direction of movement protects Cruiser against any damage while it is operating.
For the pallet shuttle system, the important hardware components are Tab for Connectivity, Shuttle Unit, Battery & the Battery Charger.

Pallet bumper

Tablet/ Shuttle Controller:
The entire operation of the shuttle can be controlled through a wireless tablet. With a very simple configuration, and easy to use features, the system doesn’t require much installation time once the racking set up is done. The tablet is connected to a wifi-network & acts as a communication medium between the operator and the shuttle. The operator provides input through the tab on an easy to use interface and gives commands to the shuttle to either drop a load or pick a load from the aisles. In the case of Cruiser, it can be operated in 2 modes; manual & automatic.

Pallet shuttle tablet

Shuttle Unit:
It’s a battery-operated trolley, with an ability to carry the pallet loads swiftly along the rails. In a semi-automatic system, an operator places the shuttle (with the help of a forklift) at the beginning of the rail where the storage/ retrieval/reshuffle operation needs to be performed, upon which depending on the input command, shuttle performs the operation. After successful completion of the operation, the shuttle comes back & rests at the source position.

Battery System:
Battery management is often overlooked when it comes to industrial equipment, and good battery management is still an exception rather than something obvious. With small improvements to the equipment & the processes, most of the time, we can achieve the best results. Cruiser battery is also designed on similar lines; with easy to change the system, and various features like advanced technology, heat management, smart charging & emergency power handling mechanism, Cruiser offers up to 16 hours of battery life, hence can be used for two whole shifts without any intervention.

A unique feature of this battery pack is the absence of a “memory effect”, so it is possible, in an emergency, to recharge for less than the optimum time for charging.

Battery Charger:

The battery charger is designed to ensure safety and reliable performance. With a smart charging feature, the charger automatically stops charging when the battery level reaches 100%.In our next blog, we will be writing on ‘Top 5 reasons to have a Pallet Shuttle in your warehouse’. Watch this space!!

Addverb Technologies is incorporated in 2016 with an aim to help Indian companies to embrace Industry 4.0 in all walks of their supply chain operations. If you have any automation related requirements, do write to us at our email id automate@addverb.in.

Carton shuttle – the carrier of cartons

Waiting for a cheeseburger at the next-door McDonalds outlet or for online ordered next party dress; waiting is the single biggest source of frustration. It only increases more when as a business you are making your customers wait. The rise of the e-Commerce industry not only challenged the status quo of warehouse operations but also gave birth to many new products. Shrinking lead times, on-time order fulfilments, squeezing operational costs, and ensuring the highest customer satisfaction levels is not an easy job unless every single point of the supply chain is tuned into the same rhythm. Storing large pallets in the warehouse saves space, but to fulfill individual orders like in e-commerce, breaking the pallet & again palletizing is an intense activity, it consumes not only time but labor. Hence direct storing of the cartons after depalletizing a pallet is a great operational move for high-velocity items, especially in consumer industries like FMCG, Ecommerce, Retail, and fashion.

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.

What is carton shuttle & how it works?
Carton shuttle is used to store and retrieve carton loads in dense shelve racking. It’s a fast-moving vehicle that facilitates quick movement of cartons within the racking system or to the outer points like to the next picking zone. Carton shuttle interacts with the vertical lift, which with double side conveyor belts moves up and down between the racks with carton loads to be stored/ retrieved. The entire throughput of the system depends on the number levels of the shelving structure, speed of the vertical lift, depth of each row & also and the no. of rows throughout the storing lane. However, with a speed of 3m/sec, it moves cartons very quickly.

The entire system consists of a rack structure, vertical lift, carton shuttle per each aisle, controls and WMS/WCS software to give instructions. Cartons from the depalletized area will be routed to carton shuttle shelving through the conveyor network. After taking these cartons, the vertical lift will move up to a designated aisle as per the instructions given by WMS/WCS transfer them on the buffer conveyor of the rack, from where the carton shuttle will shuttle them to the exact locations & drops them. Retrieval of the cartons also happens in a similar fashion, and the retrieved cartons will be moved to the picking zone, where picking will happen. The half-filled or empty cartons will be transferred to the next picking station or to the shelving area again. The entire carton shuttle system calls for impeccable and instantaneous communication across all the units involved.

Carton Shuttle Benefits:
High Throughputs: Though the throughput of the entire system depends on the feeding capacity of the vertical lift, fast movement of the shuttle ensures quick turnaround cycles.
Safety: Carton shuttle system is equipped with safety sensors, bumper, and automatic braking system to avoid any collision & accident.
Ease of Operation: The entire picking operations of the shuttle system are quite easy and require little human intervention.
Minimum Maintenance: Owing to the way the structure has been built, chances of damage to the metallic racks are minimum. Also, the shuttles require minimum maintenance.
Scalability: The Carton shuttle shelving system is easily customizable with the addition of multiple levels and shuttles according to the requirement. More shuttles can be easily employed as per production requirements.
High Storage Space: Through Pallet Shuttle, aisles can be eliminated in warehouses as forklifts are not required for end-to-end loading and unloading. In dense racking, you can store 4.2 cartons /SqMtr.
Applications:
Carton shuttle will give more benefits like:
Single unit orders: In distribution centers where the average size of most orders is one. This is best applicable for industries like Fashion, Ecommerce, consumer electronics
Store level picking: In B-B-C business models, where the picking happens for individual small orders but at a store level.
Spare parts picking: In manufacturing assembly operations, where the most common items with high throughputs can be stored.

Shopping 4.0

Shopping is an important aspect of all our lives, many people consider it a stress buster and often indulge themselves in it. It would be interesting to understand how the changing nature of technology impacts the very process of shopping. Let’s take a look at a typical shopping experience.

In a multi-brand store that offers all types of clothing, customers generally prefer to have their own space while shopping and don’t involve the sales representative in their shopping spree. After finding a shirt or trouser of their choice customers generally find that it is not available in the desired size. On approaching the sales representative and asking him to check if the shirt/trouser in the required size is there, generally, customers end up disappointed when the response comes in negative. By this time, the sales representative gets to know that the customer is genuinely interested in shopping and tries to sell a different shirt or a trouser. Despite his herculean efforts, not all customers buy something else and quite often leave the store disappointed. This is a routine which many of us follow and have experienced quite often.

How could we change it? How can technology ensure that a customer can have his own space without the mediation of a sales representative and never return disappointed? Technology can truly enhance the shopping experience of customers, giving the word “Customer Delight” a new dimension. After all, as mentioned above people shop for various reasons and invariably it gives them happiness, not being able to buy the item that one likes ruins shopping for you and it wastes a lot of time. How could this experience for a customer be enhanced? All these questions point towards Industry 4.0, the next wave of technological advancements that are altering manufacturing processes. Industry 4.0 solutions, if applied to shop could fundamentally alter the experience of shopping altogether.

Before looking at the future of shopping, we should first have a look at why stores keep Sales Representatives:

Facilitate the customer by offering the products that she needs and also guiding her to different sections

Provide her clothes that fit properly as per customer’s need

Help her come to a satisfactory decision

Drive-up the sales volume by converting more customers

To make the shopping experience for a customer “Delightful” a sales representative would have to put in a lot of discretionary efforts especially in a product category like clothing and hence this job becomes very “Critical”. Then why do we see many customers avoiding these sales representatives and buying on their own, the chief reasons can be:

Choosing something that you like and later realizing its not in your budget can be socially embarrassing in front of sales representative

Customers feel that these sales representatives push certain brands and items

People want their own privacy while shopping

It will be interesting to see how the application of Industry 4.0 solutions can truly change the shopping experience to “Customer Delight”.

Every customer before shopping shall have to enroll herself with the shop. This will only take small details like name, mobile number, age, e-mail id, etc. These details shall be available to all the branches of the shops across India through a cloud-based system. Through this, all the details of shopping that have been done by the customer shall be uploaded in the database. Whenever a customer shall go shopping, she will be provided with a Google glass with intelligent simulation software (her very own version of “J.A.R.V.I.S.”), based on her past shopping trends, the software will then guide her to the requisite section with the directions to reach that section as well. The decision as to which section she should go, would come from Data Analytics, “Jarvis” (let us call this software Jarvis for a while) shall take into account her age, her past shopping details and based on that will make an estimated budget, along with this it will process the latest fashion trends for that age category in that budget and guide the customer to the requisite section across different brands. Once the customer reaches the section of her desired brand or clothing, she can try on different clothes that she likes and interact with “Jarvis” to navigate to different sections as per her need. Once a customer finalizes a product she will purchase it by just scanning the product and making the payment. Wait! But what about the issue of not finding clothes according to your size? How will “Jarvis” solve this problem? It is straight “3-D Printing”, customer can order Jarvis to 3-D print a particular product in the size she wants. Jarvis using its capability of augmented reality will show her the design and the final product and will also communicate with the 3-D printer to print the product after her approval. Once the printing is done, the customer through their glasses can just scan the bar-code and money will be deducted from their bank account, no more frustrating queues (Lately we have had a lot of problems with queues). Once the entire shopping is done, the customer shall return their google glasses and thank “Jarvis” and shall never have to get disappointed while shopping again.

Jarvis will provide customers their privacy by helping them shop alone and will also create a delightful shopping experience for them by using Simulation, Augmented Reality, IoT, Big Data and 3-D printing. Online shopping is already using algorithms based on the past buying patterns of the customer to recommend the products, but they need to feel the product for items such as clothing means the brick & mortar shops shall continue for some time to come, but they will have to make use of the technology to stay relevant. Many might argue that this will take away jobs of Sales Reps & Cashiers but it would take away jobs that do not offer many avenues for growth. Also, because of high attrition in these jobs, it takes a lot of time and resources in developing the staff and since the necessary efforts to delight the customer are discretionary they vary from person to person, as a result, the customer experience can also vary. This is exactly a kind of role that our Jarvis can really take up as he would provide great customized service to each buyer delighting them manifold and increasing the business. In order to run Jarvis effectively, new jobs would be created as we would require many engineers and designers and with proper skilling people can take up these jobs which would be more satisfying and worthwhile. While today Mark Zuckerberg has his own version of Jarvis, in future we shall have one too and it will ensure that we can shop and never be disappointed again.

BEACON : Whose Signal Is It Anyway?

Recently the students of IIT revolutionized the markets of Dharavi by using “beacons” to provide customized offers to the people visiting the markets. This illustration of the ability of beacons to change the entire experience of customers underlies the capability of beacon technology to fundamentally alter various processes across different domains in manufacturing and retail.

What is a Beacon? In ancient times, beacons were fires lit at different locations and used for signaling purposes. They were used to signal warnings, celebrations, navigation, signify an important location, etc. With time and advent of technology, beacons became more sophisticated and their application more widespread and today we typically see a beacon as a very small electronic device type of the size of buttons of a shirt that emits radio signals in close proximity of varying strengths.

How Does Beacon work? Beacons use technology such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or UWB. Most commonly used beacons are equipped with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) also called Bluetooth Smart. BLE allows the beacons to continuously emit radio signals which contain packets of information. These signals are visible to all the Bluetooth enabled devices such as our smartphones and are sent out typically every 1/10th of a second. In order to emit these signals, beacons have to be connected to a power source such as a battery. BLE requires very little energy as compared to regular Bluetooth and hence the beacons can run even for years with the help of just small button cells.

What shall these Beacons do? The Bluetooth enabled devices (smartphones) through the signal are able to identify the beacon, once the phones identify the signal of the beacon it implies that they are within range of the beacon and a predetermined command on the relevant app shall be triggered. Internet connectivity for this stage is necessary for the app to trigger the command. These commands can be discount coupons, navigation options, any new product arrival, register attendance, etc.

The signals that beacons emit can be used to measure the location of the device around the beacon. The signal strength can be converted into the distance to know the exact location of the device from the beacon. Though one inherent problem that can occur is that beacons emit radio signals and they can be absorbed by objects in between the receiving device thereby altering the strength of the signal and thus affecting the conversion into the distance. With another technology, it is completely possible to address the problem but let us reserve it for another day!

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 mobile 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 LFO: 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!!