10 ways to improve conveyor efficiency and speed up your warehouse operations
Look beyond your current workload
Brexit, the war in Ukraine and tension with trade partners makes the UK the location of choice for businesses targeting UK consumers. Holding more inventory in the UK is essential for retailers, manufacturers, and public sector suppliers, to name a few. As is having a warehouse operation ready for profitable contracts and a strategic team that can look beyond its current workload.
Conveyor efficiency is key to increasing throughput when the opportunity arises. Axiom’s automated packing solution for EE mobile phones and associated equipment in Kuehne + Nagel’s distribution centre (now GXO) has enabled the company to significantly increase production.
Nigel Henman, Operations Manager for the facility: “Manually packing we were achieving 65 units per person per hour, with the Axiom automated solution we can push through 1200 units hourly with just four people, it’s made a big difference to our productivity.”
And they’re not the only ones scaling up – other examples of successful up-scaling include Lakeland and Tamar Foods. You can find out more here.
Invest in good engineering
Engineering has played a major part in technological advances in warehouses. From floors, to racking to robotics, our buildings – and everything in them – are being engineered to scale performance while providing a safe, efficient and smart working environment for employees.
Good engineering enables businesses to manage increasing customer volumes whilst containing costs. This depends on choosing the right partners, investing in companies with a proven track record of innovation, development, and research, capable of interpreting your needs.
Axiom’s engineering team has years of experience and knowledge supporting fulfilment and distribution operations. They design and manufacture in the UK, which means they’re close to their UK clients, and always available to rapidly resolve issues. By manufacturing in the UK, Axiom GB is less affected by the current global supply chain turbulence.
Upgrade technologies to increase accuracy
Advanced technology is being pioneered within the warehousing sector. Data collection and analysis, RFID tags and automated code reading, integrated systems utilising Industry 4.0 technology and auto-guided robotics are transforming operations. In 2022, warehouses have become hubs of science and sophistication.
The pandemic was an unexpected catalyst for automation. The c-suite has seen the worst-case scenario come and go, and are now more open to releasing capital for new tech. During lockdowns, as eCommerce became the dominant shopping channel, it was the companies that had invested in automated warehouses that were better able to deliver.
Maximise the use of your warehouse space
As discussed in our last blog, A materials handling guide to maximise warehouse space, the cost and scarcity of quality warehousing is critical. The manufacturing and automotive sectors are as eager as eCommerce fashion brands to secure new facilities, with recipe box delivery and dark kitchens also vying for space.
According to Savills in its July 2022 Big Sheds Briefing, 3PLs account for 25% of 2022 warehouse take-up, and there has been a resurgence in demand from the manufacturing and automotive sectors, which have taken 11% more than they did in the whole of 2021.
This competition means every square metre counts. An efficient warehouse is one which maximises space, reduces overheads, and increases productivity.
Conveyors can help with the optimisation, by allowing narrower transit ways compared with manual movements. Vertical lifts and spiral conveyors allow efficient use of mezzanine floors, using all available building space.
Streamline product movement and workflow
Axiom GB’s powerful MSS Sliding Shoe Sorter ̶ built at the company’s Tamworth headquarters ̶ can reliably handle high speed sorting of more than 10,000 diverse items per hour. By streamlining product movement and workflow in this way, users can simply out-sort their competition.
Involve your warehouse team in the design of your systems. Your frontline team can offer authentic feedback on existing workflows and suggestions on what could work better.
With the right automation and creative thinking from across the team, warehouses can deliver streamlined product movement and workflow.
More picking, less walking, lower cycle times
Reducing walking time for UK warehouse operators is essential for their wellbeing and will improve staff retention. By introducing automation into the pick-and-pack process, you can significantly reduce costs, increase service levels, and minimise their footprint.
To find out more about the difference Axiom’s automated packing systems could make to your order processing operation, please visit our website to view our systems or leave your contact details. Feel free to email your project details to email@example.com.
Design workstations ergonomically and safely
According to the UK’s Office of National Statistics transport and storage workers were more likely than those in any other industry to do overtime (32%), with those working overtime recording nearly eight additional hours per week on average.
As a result, taking care of the physical health of employees via ergonomic and safe workstations is essential.
Activities which cause injuries ̶ heavy lifting, awkward postures, and prolonged muscular strain ̶ can be eliminated with conveyor and sortation systems.
Preventative maintenance to avoid downtime
Unplanned downtime is the last thing UK logistics operations need from an automation partner, so make sure the system is reliable.
A UK-centric team means decisions about preventative maintenance are local ones, made by engineers and filtered down into a nationwide network of technicians.
The best way to avoid downtime is simply to invest in a reliable system from the start. Martin Fisher, Operations Manager at World of Books, counts his Axiom investment as one of those:
“The throughput and reliability of the automated system Axiom proposed meant that we would outstrip all our current KPIs and deliver a huge performance benefit for World of Books.”
Identifying and solving bottlenecks.
Bottlenecks ̶ whether short or long term ̶ can have significant repercussions. They often come from a machine breaking down or requiring maintenance, so choose a partner that provides flexible support packages to suit individual requirements.
As well as offering hardware and software for automated materials handling solutions, Axiom provides comprehensive support and maintenance packages, which can be tailored to exactly the level of cover required.
The company also has a reliable 24/7 telephone hotline for expert help and rapid solutions.
Combine conveyors and robotics for increased productivity
Robots are no longer a sci-fi story – they’re a warehouse story. Robotics is improving the speed and accuracy of routine operations in distribution centres, and operators are increasingly relying on this advanced technology to increase their warehouse efficiency and productivity.
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) are among the most common robots. They are typically sold as a basic form factor that can be fitted with a wide range of load carrying implements, including conveyors.
Despite the proven productivity gains from this type of technology, the trend of adopting automation is only just getting going. For companies just starting out on their automation journey, be sure to choose partners that educate and inform every step of the way.
If you’re looking for an automated system and want to talk to a company with all the right credentials, contact Axiom GB for a consultation on 01827 61212 or email firstname.lastname@example.org