Missed MODEX live? Or, Didn’t Make It to the Incremental Approach to Automation Installation, Investment Seminar? Catch It Here.

memorex_edited-1

At MODEX 2016, viastore presented a free, on-floor educational session exploring “What Level of Automation Makes Sense — An Incremental Approach” to debunk the concept that automating your warehouse means you’ll be exclusively incorporating expensive, complex, high-speed, highly mechanized equipment that runs 24/7, lights out, without any human intervention.

Yet, in reality, there are actually four levels of automation, and very few installations in the U.S. are at that highest level. The majority of facilities have instead invested in a more affordable level of automation to achieve process improvements in a few select areas that were previously not delivering value to their operations. The resulting automation solution yields better throughput and productivity.

If you missed the ‘live’ MODEX, or missed the ‘live’ session, you can view a recording of the presentation and listen to the accompanying audio here. In the seminar, I covered the four levels of warehouse automation, divided into groupings based on increasing degrees of complexity and cost. They include…

Level 1: Conventional picking with process improvements delivered via warehouse management system (WMS), order picking system such as radio-frequency (RF) or voice-directed picking, and/or a labor management system (LMS).

Level 2: Mechanized solutions that automate horizontal movement and reduce non-value added activities (like walking), such as conveyor, pick modules, stretch wrap applicators, label print-and-apply, and layer picking equipment.

Level 3: Semi-automated equipment that improves storage efficiency and further minimizes travel and manual handling with storage carousels, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), conveyor and sortation, and warehouse control software (WCS) to direct equipment operation in line with the WMS.

Level 4: Fully automated, high-speed (and yes, potentially “lights out”), greenfield installations that include a combination of high-density AS/RS, extensive conveyor and sortation, automated layer picking, case palletizing, WCS and WMS.

During each level of automation, the relating common factors for the ROI for each were discussed. These are covered in the presentation.

In the session, I also explained how to plan each level of automation investment in order to build upon the previous step in a planned, predictable way. For that reason, it’s key to partner with a supplier or systems integrator who can help you develop and map a solution that grows—flexibly and scalably—in lock-step with your operations. That way you can be sure that previous technology investments can be maximized and your existing equipment and processes are properly leveraged.

Want to learn more? Call viastore at 616.977.3950 to chat about which level of automation makes sense for your operation with one of our warehouse planning specialists.

New Research on Who Should Design, Implement Your Next Material Handling System

When it comes to the design and implementation of a material handling system, the warehouse and distribution center (DC) operators have four primary choices:

  • In-house engineering
  • System original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
  • Consulting firm
  • Third-party systems integrator

This past spring, Modern Materials Handling partnered with viastore systems to delve deeper into how organizations evaluate and select material handling system providers and solutions. Among other areas of investigation, the final report—“Material Handling System Choices: Priorities, Approaches and Selection Processes of Decision-Makers” —takes an extensive look at the system design and implementation decisions made by respondents’ organizations. [Read more…]

A three-year payback on an automation installation?

It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? That an automation installation could pay for itself in just 36 months—or sooner?

But it’s true. Depending on the level of automated system installed and the specific circumstances surrounding an operation’s current mode of operation, an investment in automated material handling systems and technologies could very well produce a three-year return on investment (ROI). [Read more…]

11 Considerations Before Purchasing Material Handling Equipment

When considering the purchase of an automated material handling solution it’s a given that you have to stay within your budget. Whether you are looking at conveyor, sortation, AS/RS, WMS, or a combination of all of the above, there are several factors that need to come into play beyond just who might have the lowest price.

Here are a few to consider:

1. Does the solution match your scope?

2. Did the supplier give you what you asked or, or offer an explanation of why it is different? If what you asked for is not the vendor’s recommended design/solution, it’s important that you receive a quote for the design you requested so you have a base comparison to make against other quotes.

[Read more…]