Boost Efficiency, Throughput with Blended Manual and Automated Handling Solutions: Get Details in Free MODEX 2016 ASG Seminar

It’s a myth that automating your warehouse is an “all-in” commitment. In reality, some of the most cost-effective installations blend both manual and automated material handling solutions to achieve scalable efficiency and throughput in a variety of processes, including picking, packing, shipping, assembly and component handling.

modex125x125It’s a topic to be covered in more detail—twice!—during MODEX 2016 (April 4-7 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta), as part of show-sponsor MHI’s Automation Solutions Group (ASG)‘s FREE on-floor seminar, “Latest and Greatest Advances in Automated Handling.” The session will initially be held on Tuesday, April 5 from 11:15 a.m. to noon in Theater B. It repeats for a second time on Thursday, April 7 from noon to 12:45 p.m. in Theater A. (viastore is one of 40 different industry leading companies representing the automation software, hardware and services that support a fully integrated supply chain who participate in the ASG. The group’s members routinely collaborate on solutions worldwide, and in every major manufacturing, warehousing and distribution sector.)

The ASG presenters will focus on the material handling automation innovations that are relevant to both smaller and larger operations. Included among the many insights we’ll be sharing about a variety of applications, performance characteristics, benefits and justification approaches is a focus on those integrated solutions that combine both manual and automated handling.

That’s because, in our experience, a warehouse automation solution can—and should—be applied only to the specific processes within an operation that deliver the biggest return on investment (ROI). The trick is to utilize the right combination of sensors, controls, identification devices and software that can scale up or down as needed to optimize throughput for a decrease in cost-per-unit handling expenses. It also requires close scrutiny of inventory to identify what items must be handled manually, and what can be accounted for with automation.

For example, slow- and medium-moving stock keeping units (SKUs) can be placed in an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS), while fast-moving SKUs reside in flow rack. By applying dynamic slotting software to group like orders for release at the same time, slower velocity products stored in a highly dense AS/RS can be automatically delivered to a forward pick zone for simultaneous, higher throughput order fulfillment.

Alternately, for companies like industrial electronics manufacturer Phoenix Contact, the ideal integrated solution means splitting inventory between two facilities: one conventional and one automated. By tracking inventory stored in both locations with the same warehouse management system (WMS), combined reporting keeps everything straight.

Speaking of WMS, simply adding such software can be a crucial first step toward realizing warehouse automation benefits within a conventional facility. Software integrates a manual handling operation’s process, people and equipment to increase labor efficiency, system accuracy and overall productivity. Consider picking, an activity that—when conducted via paper pick lists—requires the typical associate to spend 60% of his or her workday hoofing it to, from and between picks, yet just 40% actually grabbing items to fill orders. Replacing this error-prone method with a modest investment in a WMS can:

  • Support radio-frequency (RF) scanning or voice-directed picking to significantly reduce errors,
  • Optimize travel paths to minimize walk time and boost productivity, and
  • Ensure that the oldest products are picked first to eliminate expired inventory.

Want to hear more, but can’t attend either of the ASG seminars? Drop by viastore’s MODEX exhibit in Booth 1439 at the Georgia World Congress Center Hall B throughout the show, April 4-7, 2016. Can’t wait until MODEX? Download our whitepaper, “15 Myths About Warehouse Automation, Debunked,” or call viastore at 616.977.3950.

About John Clark

John is responsible for Marketing and Business Development at the North American headquarters of viastore systems in Grand Rapids, MI.

He has over 20 years of broad hands-on experience in all aspects of marketing and communication, including writing, content marketing, advertising, design, trade show and event planning, public/media relations, website, lead generation and management.

Prior to viastore, he has held marketing management positions at TGW Systems and Dematic, both global material handling automation companies.

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