Automated Picking Systems
Order picking is a crucial process in many industries. It is one of the most important components of order fulfillment for most industries. In the food industry, products have a limited shelf life and need to be picked and delivered quickly. Safety is a primary concern for the healthcare industry to ensure that medications, medical supplies, and equipment are delivered to the right patients at the right time. For manufacturers, the order-picking process can have a significant impact on production efficiency and overall product quality, and brand integrity. An automated picking system might be the right option for you!
Optimizing picking processes has been a particular focus for e-commerce companies, retailers, and distributors. In a world where consumers are likely to shop elsewhere if their items are not delivered within a few days, efficient order fulfillment is a matter of survival. The dramatic surge in customer behaviors has put immense pressure on companies to improve their order-picking and fulfillment processes. The average cost to fulfill an online retail order is 70% of the average order value. Statistics like this are driving businesses to look for ways to minimize costs and increase profitability. And sometimes it’s neither of these but simply a case of needing to get more done faster just to survive.
Solving Business Challenges
Historically, selecting items from inventory and preparing them for shipment was a process once done manually by warehouse workers using pick lists or handheld devices to locate and retrieve items. However, this method can be labor intensive, time-consuming, prone to errors, and limits the number of orders that can be fulfilled each day.
In today’s world, smart companies are turning towards automated high-speed order-picking solutions. Automation has become a game-changer for them. By implementing an automated picking system, businesses can:
- Increase Efficiency: Automated picking systems can fulfill orders faster and with greater accuracy, resulting in higher throughput and fewer errors.
- Reduce Labor Costs: By reducing the need for manual labor, businesses can save on wages, benefits, and other associated costs.
- Improve Inventory Management: Automated picking systems can track inventory levels, monitor product movement, and optimize storage, resulting in more efficient use of warehouse space.
- Enhance Customer Experience: Faster and more accurate order fulfillment leads to higher customer satisfaction and repeat business.
There are several different types of automated picking systems available, including:
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS): One of the most popular types of order picking systems, ASRS uses a combination of robotics, conveyors, and software to automatically store and retrieve items from storage shelves. When an order is received, the ASRS system identifies the location of the required item and automatically retrieves it, allowing for fast and efficient order fulfillment.
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs): These are driverless vehicles that are used to transport products throughout a warehouse or distribution center. AGVs are guided by an internal control system or external markers and can be used to move products from one location to another. These systems can help streamline the process of loading and unloading products and reduce the need for human workers to perform physically demanding tasks.
Robotic Picking Systems: Robotic picking systems are becoming more advanced and capable of handling a wider range of products. These systems use computer vision, machine learning, and other technologies to identify and pick and place products with a high degree of accuracy and speed. This includes using collaborative robots to work alongside humans. This approach combines the speed and accuracy of robots with the dexterity and flexibility of human workers, resulting in faster and more efficient picking.
Conveyor Systems: Today’s systems are designed to handle a wide range of products and can be customized to meet the specific needs of a particular operation. While belt and roller conveyors are commonplace, sortation conveyors are a great investment for businesses that require fast and efficient sorting of products or packages. Equipped with sensors, scanners, and other technologies, they can move items directionally based on weight, size, and other factors that can greatly increase throughput.
Multi-level Picking Systems: Also known as pick modules are becoming increasingly popular as warehouse space becomes harder to find and more expensive. They typically consist of a series of multiple work levels with shelving units or racks, conveyor systems, and picking stations. At each picking station (or zone), an order picker selects the items required for a particular order and places them into a tote or carton. The order then moves down the conveyor to the next zone, where additional items are added until the order is complete and ready for shipment.
Picking System Integration
Integrating an automated picking system into an existing space and process requires careful planning and consideration. It is important to evaluate the available space and layout of the facility to determine the best location for the system. Allowing for the efficient movement of goods and personnel is essential to optimizing the available space. Additionally, the system should be designed to seamlessly integrate with the existing processes and equipment to ensure that there is no disruption to the operations. Scalability and proper integration of an automated picking system can lead to increased productivity, improved efficiency, and reduced labor costs in the long run.
We Can Help
RMH Systems can help you choose and implement the right system for your business needs, regardless of industry or project scale. Our experienced team of experts provides personalized support from consultation to installation and ongoing maintenance, ensuring a smooth and efficient transition to the new system. A partner who is well-versed in your industry and has a full understanding of your goals, and can bring all the components together to fully understand your picking system will help save you time and money.
If you would like to talk about how automating order-picking can improve accuracy, efficiency, and overall productivity, give us a call at 800.851.4995 or contact us online to set up a time. We are here to help and will give you the advice you need to help your company reach its full potential.