August 12 2016

Westfalia automates Breakthru Beverage Illinois with AS/RS

Warehouse Automation May Be More Than Just A "Nice to Have"

Gone are the days when 200-300 SKUs was "a lot." Nowadays, as distributors and craft breweries are pushing those numbers into the thousands, many are turning to warehouse automation. Although warehouse automation is not a new concept, it can be daunting for many companies as it is never a "one size fits all" solution. The term automation encompasses many systems, both hardware and software, and many different sizes and levels of functionality from semi-automation to a full automation.

The most basic level, semi-automation, is often seen through voice pick technology. There is still a strong human element involved, but it is a good way for distributors to get an idea of what automated technology can do for their company without fully committing. These systems are particularly attractive because they immediately boost productivity and order accuracy. "There are tons of benefits [of voice picking]: order accuracy, inventory accuracy, avoiding product obsolescence and all those kinds of benefits that come with a large or small operation," says Ned Bauhof, principal and vice president of Precision Distribution Consulting (PDC).

Take warehouse automation to the next level and you have an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS). One of the key reasons that AS/RS suppliers say distributors are considering these large, fully-automated systems is because it's a fairly mature technology with a proven track record. "Our type of automation has been around for a long time," says Aaron Corcoran, account executive, Westfalia Technologies. "It's the maturity of it and the relative simplicity of its that's making it gain a little more traction in the industry."

Read the full article from Beverage World