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?
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.
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.
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