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How To Automate Your Warehouse—the First Step

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By Author: Sonar Technologies
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Warehouse automation follows a "crawl-walk-run" method. Before getting into AS/RS systems and fully autonomous robots, you should learn the basic concepts and then develop them.
In this article, we talk about the first step of the warehouse automation process:
Begin with data collection.
The first aspect of your warehouse that should be automated is the data collection system.
Normally, information is collected by writing notes on paper or manually typing or retyping data. This information is then saved digitally on a spreadsheet or database (such as an AS/400 database), physically in a folder, or at a handy spot in the warehouse, or it is not saved at all.
Where data collection quality starts, however, is in acceptance.
One of your employees, say "Joe," receives shipments of products. He goes through each box or item on the pallet, notes the SKUs and quantities, and enters them before storing them in containers. When Joe manually inputs an SKU number, quantity, or any other type of data, there is a chance of human error, such as an alteration of two numbers. This inaccuracy ...
... becomes even worse when the material's incorrectly collected data is binned, transferred, picked, packed, and transported.
Let's now assume that Joe handles 4,000 units of product every day. Even with 99.5% accuracy, this small range of error results in 20 faulty transactions per workday. After one year (250 workdays), a 0.5% gap results in 5,000 incorrect inventory entries. It is not entirely Joe's fault; rather, it is a normal result of doing repeated tasks by hand.
Let's say Joe is on a receiving team with two other workers with comparable output. Now, the 20 bad transactions total 15,000 each year. Multiply these 15,000 by three sites, and their company is now warehousing 45,000 incorrectly recognised items yearly, all of which are at risk of being lost, double-sold, or outdated because the inventory cannot be discovered later due to poor data.
That 0.5% error can have an important impact on your operations. In more traditional processes, such as shops that handle receiving, cycle counting, and inventory verification by hand, inventory accuracy can be as low as 60%, causing an unfavourable downstream impact on the rest of the organisation.
The possibility that the product will be received, stored, moved, picked, packed, or shipped to the customer incorrectly is decreased when we automate the data collection process. This reduces the possibility of human error. Automated Warehouse Systems captures information from incoming shipments using a barcode scanner and sends it to central data repository systems, such as a database or an ERP system, via software.
Because this capture procedure removes manual recording, the data is cleaner and more accurate—up to 100%.
Warehouse Automation Companies use data-collecting technologies to improve the capture process by mobilising data capture devices such as wireless barcode scanners, portable laptops, and ruggedized tablets. A truly automated mobile data collection solution will include device-independent software to allow two-way communication between mobile handhelds and the database, or ERP. Data can be collected from multiple sources;
• Barcodes
• RFID tags
• Industrial internet of things (IIoT) devices
• Physical automation equipment (slideshows, vertical lifts, and so on)
This data-gathering ecosystem not only removes human errors from the data entry process but also gives the warehouse manager correct, high-quality data for real-time decision-making on inventory stock levels and manufacturing materials or elements.
By automating this one system, the entire warehouse, delivery centre, and/or manufacturing business can function at a previously unthinkable degree of effectiveness, with profitable implications for operations downstream.
Don't make the usual mistake of ignoring data-collecting automation or waiting until you've set up other types of automation, such as a Warehouse Management System (WMS). Automated mobile data collection should be the very first step towards warehouse automation. Mobile warehouse barcoding is a great solution for firms that are just getting started with automation.
The warehouse uses mobile barcoding, which includes:
• Mobile data gathering will be automated with barcode scanners.
• The enterprise movement extends ERP to business and consumer mobile devices.
• Flexibility and adaptability to begin small and extend automation as required.
Warehousing and distribution can start by automating a few critical activities using mobile barcoding technology. Then, when the benefits become visible, you can extend digital automation and software's like Transport and Logistics solutions, Retail Workforce Management Software, Field Service Management Software, Courier Management System, increasing cost savings and performance improvements.
Take Away: Warehouse Automation
• Modern automated data-collecting technologies improve the capture process by using devices like wireless barcode scanners, portable laptops, and ruggedized tablets.
• A truly automated mobile data collection solution includes device-independent software for two-way communication between mobile handhelds and the database, or ERP.
• This data-gathering ecosystem removes human errors and provides real-time decision-making on inventory stock levels and manufacturing materials.
• Automated Warehousing system can significantly enhance the efficiency of the entire warehouse, delivery centre, and/or manufacturing business.
• Mobile warehouse barcoding is a great solution for firms just getting started with automation.
• Mobile barcoding automates data obtained with barcode scanners, extends ERP to business and consumer mobile devices, and allows for flexibility and adaptability.
• Warehouse and distribution organisations can start by automating a few critical activities using mobile barcoding technology, then extend digital automation into other departments.

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