How do you efficiently present products from bulk storage to packing?
The secret to an efficient fulfilment system is to eliminate non-productive tasks from goods receipt to shipping by using automated storage & retrieval systems or ASRS. To achieve this all systems should be synergistic between operators, software, and hardware.
At Axiom GB Ltd we find working closely with the customer to understand their current systems and what is required is key to a successful solution.
What is the true cost of waste?
Some waste in logistics can be easily seen:
- Excessive packaging.
- Overstocking product reducing cashflow and increasing storage costs.
Much waste isn’t so obvious, this is where a well-designed materials handling system looking at both the hardware and software elements is essential. These sorts of waste can be:
- Transport: How many times and in what forms are products moved around the warehouse from goods inwards to shipping? How many times is a pallet pulled down from high bay racking to remove a single item?
- How many times is the product touched by operators? How far does it travel from bulk to picking to shipping?
- Do your operators have excessive pick paths and undertake large volumes of manual handling?
- Can you identify where every SKU is in the warehouse between goods inwards, processing, and shipping?
All waste is costly and can either make your offer uncompetitive or reduce cashflow and returns, reducing business opportunities.
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS)
If you only deal with higher volumes of relatively few SKUs, then a fixed racking pick face may well be the answer. An ASRS system may still be of use for pallets and bulk racking, but the presentation to the operator may be overkill.
If you have high numbers of SKUs with small pick numbers, then a fully integrated ASRS with goods to picker could well be a game changer in your pick speeds and accuracy.
An ASRS works by the crane or robotic system taking products, either boxed or in totes for smaller items, to a known location. The product is scanned into the system at the entry point from barcode, QR or RFID tag. The software will allocate to a storage position based a pre-configured set of rules in an algorithm.
On receiving the picking wave, the system will calculate the most efficient route to supply the goods to the picker to shorten non-productive movements of the automation.
At the pick face
By optimising the ergonomics of the pick face and looking at the distance required to travel, the fulfilment rates can be greatly increased. The ASRS constantly delivering the required product as dictated by algorithm derived wave of orders, minimising the numbers of pockets, and hence the space, taken to fulfil the orders.
Further assistance for the picker is the clear indication of which pocket and how many of the product in that pocket are required. This can be shared with the picker in many forms:
- Audio: Headsets worn by the picker inform the pocket and numbers of product required, leaving hands free.
- Wearable Tech: Often wrist mounted, a screen with easy to assimilate information informs the next pick. Addition of code scanning can give an additional level of product tracking.
- Pick-to-Light: Lights and information displays on each pocket indicate where and what is required. The software working in harmony with that of the ASRS for efficient operations in front and behind the pick face.
- Screens: For a given pick area, a display screen within easy eyeline of the picker utilising simple icons and large fonts allow intuitive pick Information.
- Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) carries the shipping box and travels to each pick area. A display screen on the AMR tells the picker how many and which pocket is required.
Why Axiom GB Ltd?
Axiom are a family business based in Tamworth, Staffordshire, UK. The company has 25-years of experience as a leading supplier of material handling automation solutions across a range of industries, but specialising in the supply of systems for logistics, warehousing and fulfilment applications. The combination of conveyors, sorting systems, control and data handling provides turnkey projects for many well-known companies.
By reviewing each project on its own merits, Axiom strives to provide the optimum solution to exceed the base requirements of the automation.