For the longest time you've relied on an army of pickers working at a breakneck pace to fulfill orders, but they are having difficulty keeping pace with rising demand. Your organization system of sticky labels and spreadsheets has met its limits and finding products is costing you time and money. Your shipping department is practically buried under a pile of orders and customers are beginning to complain. If any of these scenarios sounds familiar, it might just be time to consider implementing warehouse automation.

When we talk about automation, we mean integrating robotics, software, mechanical assistance, or some combination of the three to take over or simplify more repetitive tasks. The net benefit of all of this is increasing employee safety, optimizing their workflow, maximizing efficiency and reducing operating costs. Imagine how many more orders could go out if your shipping department didn't have to split their time between building pallets, manual labelling and data entry. With that in mind, let's look at 6 Ways Automation Can Improve Your Warehouse:

6. Improving Employee Safety

As hiring new people becomes more of a challenge, you may find yourself with a workforce that feels overworked in order to meet demand. An intense pace coupled with strenuous, repetitive tasks increases the risk of injuries, which in turn compounds your understaffing which may lead to more work and more injuries until the lost man-hours and increased healthcare costs sink your operation quickly.

You can incorporate a variety of solutions, from Order Picking vehicles to help reach and traverse product storage more quickly, to conveyors and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RSs) working in concert with your pickers.

5. Optimizing Your Footprint

You can rearrange your storage system and opt for equipment with a smaller profile but at some point, unless you relocate to a larger building, you're going to run out of space. You must take advantage of every available square inch and one surefire way to do that is with automation. More narrow aisles supported by automatic lifts and carousels can drastically reduce the amount of floor space used. In fact, your storage solutions can reach new heights you couldn't consider before when relying on traditional methods.

4. Better Inventory Management

There's nothing quite like the feeling you get when you find out you have a ton of orders, but you just ran out of products need to fulfill them. Staying on top of your stock could require time-consuming inventory audits that result in hundreds of overtime hours with the chance of inaccurate counts. By using advanced inventory management software, you can receive real-time updates and forecasting that help you predict your replenishment needs and assist in reorders. Reducing the chance of having to say "I'm sorry but that product is on Back Order".

3. More Accurate Orders

Back orders are bad enough, but returns can be even worse. Not only do you have to deal with the logistics of returning the items but your reputation with customers takes a hit. Automating even part of the picking process with a level of Goods-To-Person order fulfillment ensures your customers get the right product the first time. Using a combination of AS/RS and connected workstations displaying the proper quantities can eliminate the need to travel the warehouse with a printed packet of customer orders.

2. Increased Efficiency

When you all of these up, a safer, optimized, better managed and accurate processes mean you've increased the efficiency of your operation. Reducing work slowdowns, backtracking and bottlenecks related to outmoded processes helps your business grow and adapt to every changing customer demand which ultimately leads to a better bottom line and even better…

1. Happier Customers

Naturally, when customers receive their products quickly and correctly, they tend to be much happier, which leads to repeat business. Customers who are more loyal are also more likely to promote your business and grow your customer base organically.

Are you ready to consider Warehouse Automation? Figuring out where to start and what your unique situation requires can be a tad overwhelming. Fortunately, Toyota Lift Northwest has a team of experts whose focus is to assist you in choosing the perfect combination of solutions. They'll help you identify key areas of improvement and select the right products for the job. Contact our Allied Systems team for an on-site consultation and get your warehouse moving like a well-oiled machine today!

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