Reducing the cost of running a warehouse is one of the most critical challenges to business improvement for warehouse managers. In an attempt to overcome this challenge, warehouses are increasingly turning to automation with the intention of improving efficiency and productivity.
Many manufacturers and warehouse operators are currently focussing their attention and efforts on introducing automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and robots to remove human involvement in moving stock. Whilst the business benefits of this kind of investment are clear, this level of investment is beyond most warehouses.
However, the average warehouse can cost-effectively implement other forms of automation. One much smaller element of the warehouse process that is a lot easier to automate is the process of data collection, which is traditionally a manual process.
Automating data collection in a warehouse can immediately cut costs and improve productivity. This is achieved in three ways:
- By eliminating manual scanning: barcodes are typically scanned by MHE drivers when picking items, however, there is more to this process than a simple read of a barcode. Hidden time-drainers include the manoeuvers involved in being able to scan the code in the first place as well as the time to require to manually operate a hand-held device. This can take up to 15 seconds of additional time per pallet move. While this may not sound like much, it all adds up quickly and equates to four hours of time wasted for every 1,000 pallets moved.
- By improving inventory accuracy: removing the risk of human error from the pallet moving process provides assurance that inventory locations are always recorded correctly. This eliminates the time spent searching for misplaced items and reduces the amount of effort required for stock reconciliation exercises, such as cycle counting and stock checking.
- By providing accurate and timely data: an automated system helps to make informed decisions that will result in productivity improvements, such as working out how many forklift trucks and operators are required for each shift.
The market boasts many options that claim to reduce warehouse costs. The reality is that few actually achieve this. One option that has proven itself in real-world application is the Vero suite of solutions, which automates the data collection process to deliver productivity improvements and cost savings.