Revolutionizing Logistics: How Warehouse Automation is Transforming the Industry
In the rapidly evolving landscape of logistics, the integration of automation has become a game-changer for companies aiming to enhance productivity, improve safety, and elevate overall operational performance. This blog explores how logistics leaders are deploying automation in warehouses and distribution centers to increase material handling equipment uptime, boost employee productivity, and improve worker safety while achieving unprecedented operational efficiency. Let's delve into real-world examples to illustrate the transformative impact of warehouse automation.
Automated Vehicles and Automated Charging Increase Uptime
Efficient fleet management is crucial for logistics companies, and automation plays a pivotal role in ensuring vehicles are operational and available when needed. Logistics leaders like Walmart have turned to autonomous vehicles to mitigate labor challenges and ensure operational predictability. Because AGVs can run whether there is an operator available or not, they’ve grown in popularity. Walmart says warehouse robots like self driving forklifts will lower costs by 20%, while also getting orders to consumers faster.
Another notable example of warehouse automation that enables 24/7 uptime is automated charging. Both manned and autonomous vehicles can benefit from wireless charging systems like Resonant Link’s 19.2 kW, 400 A lift truck charger. Charging starts automatically once the vehicle pulls into range, without any operator intervention needed. Chargers can also be placed at planned vehicle stops throughout facilities to ensure vehicles are charged while they work and eliminate the need to stop vehicles just to charge them.
Warehouse Automation Boosts Worker Productivity
Automation isn't just about replacing human tasks; it's about augmenting human capabilities to achieve higher productivity levels. Amazon has implemented a range of automated technologies in its warehouses. Amazon's Kiva robots, which have been in use for more than a decade, work collaboratively with human workers to optimize order fulfillment processes. This not only increases productivity but also allows human workers to focus on more complex tasks like problem solving and new product development.
Automation Improves Worker Safety
Ensuring the safety of workers is a top priority for logistics leaders and automation can significantly contribute to achieving this goal. There are a myriad of ways automation is being deployed to replace or reduce repetitive and manual tasks. One example of an innovative application of warehouse automation is how DHL Supply Chain is using robotic devices to support workers. DHL leverages Exoskeletons to assist workers with physically demanding tasks, reducing the impact on them. These wearable robotic devices reduce the risk of injury and fatigue, promoting a safer working environment.
To Maximize Operational Efficiency, Automation is Essential
Warehouse automation technologies such as autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) are reshaping the logistics landscape. Ocado, a UK-based online grocery retailer, has implemented a highly automated warehouse system featuring robots that pick and pack products with exceptional speed and precision. This level of automation has allowed Ocado to streamline its operations, reduce errors, and enhance overall efficiency. But warehouse automation isn’t just limited to physical automation. Digital automation uses data and software to reduce manual workflows and boost efficiency too. Examples of digital automation include automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) technology like mobile barcoding and also basic, but essential, process automation like automatic shipping label creation that ensures labels include the right information.
As logistics leaders continue to explore innovative ways to stay ahead in a competitive market, automation is a key enabler of operational transformation. The examples mentioned above illustrate how companies are strategically deploying automation to improve vehicle uptime, worker productivity, safety, and operational efficiency. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies, these companies are not only optimizing their current operations but also preparing for future logistics challenges and opportunities. Keep an eye on the continued evolution of warehouse automation, how logistics leaders are strategically deploying automation, and the impact of automation to drive efficiencies in the global supply chain.
If you're ready to learn more about using automated charging to save money and future-proof your operations, contact us today.