Picking and automation technologies

Automatisierung Lagerplanung

In the context of company changes, the question of the degree of automation arises. Should processes be fully auto­mated or only par­tially auto­mated? Which logistics systems are the right ones for the type of business? What types of order picking tech­niques can be used? How do costs relate to ben­efits? How sus­tainable is the chosen degree of automation in con­nection with its future viability!

We use a coor­di­nated data model to analyze the company data. Based on this, we can define the appro­priate systems and their sus­tain­ability. The analysis and system def­i­n­ition always takes place in close coor­di­nation with the cus­tomer and employees involved in the process. The system planning is carried out using 3D software. Thus, the future system operator has the pos­si­bility to adapt his system in detail to his needs during the planning process. The aim of this approach is to create a high level of system accep­tance and the nec­essary process understanding.

The degree of automation, in addition to data and goods flow analysis, is always deter­mined by per­sonal dialog with the potential plant operator.

In our blog we would like to present some picking and automation tech­niques that we deal with within our con­sulting projects. Which require­ments actually decide on the appro­priate method or the use of the “right” automation technology?

person-to-goods

In order to meet the growth of the article assort­ments and the increas­ingly complex dynamization of cus­tomer demand, picking processes and systems have been tech­no­log­i­cally further developed and equipped with higher, arti­ficial intelligence.

If, for example, classic, manual ware­house struc­tures are given, picking is often carried out according to the person-to-goods prin­ciple, i.e. the picker goes to the storage location of an article and removes it there. An increase in effi­ciency is also pos­sible here. For example, the pro­vision of infor­mation and feedback by voice (pick-by-voice) offers the advantage that the employee has his hands free at all times. Recently, approaches have also gained prac­tical maturity in which the lin­guistic infor­mation is sup­ple­mented by visual infor­mation (pick-by-vision). This is done with the aid of data glasses (aug­mented reality), which reduces the error rate com­pared to purely audio-based systems.

Goods-to-person

The more effi­ciently picking can be done, the faster the goods reach the cus­tomer. But not only the pro­cessing time, also the com­plaint rate due to incom­plete deliv­eries is sig­nif­i­cantly influ­enced by this.

In order to achieve a high picking per­for­mance, the goods-to-person prin­ciple is the best choice. The goods are auto­mat­i­cally trans­ported to the picking station by means of con­veyor tech­nology and e.g. dri­verless transport systems. The picker can pick the quantity of articles spec­ified by the system. Due to the reduction of travel times, order pickers have shorter walking dis­tances and less physical strain. In addition, auto­mated picking systems reduce the sus­cep­ti­bility to errors. This prin­ciple is used in auto­mated high-bay ware­houses and auto­mated small parts and pallet ware­houses, among others.

Pick-by-light

The actual picking process, i.e. the removal of a partial quantity, the picking, can be carried out either man­ually or auto­mat­i­cally. With manual picking, it is important that the employee is clearly informed about the quantity to be picked and the picking and storage location. This is often done by using the paperless picking methods pick-by-light for picking and put-to-light for filing. A lamp or a laser marking signals the picker where to pick items (pick-by-light) while a display shows the quantity. The storage location can also be indi­cated by a lamp (put-to-light).

Used in a ware­house system with short walking dis­tances, such as a small parts ware­house, this approach is very effi­cient and reduces the error rate by dis­playing the pick quantity and pick location.

Case Picking through Robotics

The automation of order picking by means of robots is a devel­opment that has become increas­ingly important in recent years. As modern high-tech devices, they are equipped with vision systems, which are equipped with precise variable gripping tools for picking, placing and han­dling a wide variety of dimen­sioned products and are com­pletely inte­grated into the intral­o­gistic processes. Nev­er­theless, these systems in par­ticular cannot be viewed without context, but must be planned and designed with the entire intral­o­gistic system in mind.

 

The automation of order picking by means of robots is a devel­opment that has become increas­ingly important in recent years. As modern high-tech devices, they are equipped with vision systems, which are equipped with precise variable gripping tools for picking, placing and han­dling a wide variety of dimen­sioned products and are com­pletely inte­grated into the intral­o­gistic processes. Nev­er­theless, these systems in par­ticular cannot be viewed in a context-free manner, but must be planned and designed with the entire intral­o­gistic system in mind.

It is therefore par­tic­u­larly important to analyze where automation makes sense in order to achieve the desired opti­mization. The entire order picking process is con­sidered and it is con­sidered at which point the greatest benefit can be achieved. Thus, the use of robotics can reduce errors and the burden of heavy physical labor, espe­cially at high picking per­for­mance, which saves costs in the long run.

Highly dynamic order picking with a shuttle warehouse

An auto­mated shuttle system is par­tic­u­larly suitable when the highest pos­sible throughput must be achieved. The goods-to-person system enables storage depths from one to four times deeper for standard packs, trays and cartons. It can also be used in cold storage envi­ron­ments at tem­per­a­tures down to 0 °C. Thanks to long aisles (up to 150 m) and a maximum height of up to 25 m, the available storage space can be opti­mally uti­lized and the number of aisles reduced.

A well-planned shuttle system can be used to supply goods-to-person picking sta­tions, as an inter­me­diate buffer for order con­sol­i­dation or a com­bi­nation of both. With an addi­tional auto­mated pallet picking solution as well as the com­bi­nation with a robot you can further increase your picking efficiency.

You can achieve the fol­lowing advan­tages by using a shuttle warehouse:

  • Optimal use of space due to compact design
  • Seamless inte­gration with other sub­systems is guaranteed
  • Quick and easy main­te­nance access to the aisles
  • Each aisle can be taken out of service per level for main­te­nance. Thus the system avail­ability can be increased
  • Future-proof: Increase the per­for­mance of your ware­house by switching from a goods-to-person to a goods-to-robot principle 

 

 

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