Benefits of Automated Storage Systems such as AutoStore
AutoStore is an automated storage system part of the Goods-to-Person order picking method. Thanks to its innovative concept, AutoStore achieved a strong growth rate across the world in recent years.
We would like to introduce this unique technology which, in our view, deserves further attention. So, if you wish to improve productivity or reduce storage space, AutoStore makes an interesting option.
First, before going into too much detail regarding this product, it is important to have a clear understanding of the two main order picking methods: Goods-to-Person and Person-to-Goods.
Goods-to-Person Order Picking
Picking orders using this method consists in moving the product directly to the operator, who works at a fixed workstation.
This method can greatly reduce many types of waste such as order mistakes, transport and motion. Operator motion alone can account for up to 50% of order picking time. Moreover, this type of technology can considerably reduce the storage space required, for it takes out the floor space needed for operator motion.
Five Goods-to-Person Storage Systems
Belt-driven horizontal rotary storage system that brings the required items to the operator’s workstation. This system is reliable and time-saving. It comes equipped with its own warehouse control system (WCS) providing for efficiency, transparency and flexibility during stockpiling and picking.
Rack-and-pinion or belt-driven vertical rotary storage system that brings the required items to the operator’s workstation. This automated system is trustworthy, time-saving and cheap, which makes it a suitable candidate for warehouse implementation. It allows for an optimal use of airspace and also has its own WCS. Bottom line, it boasts many options to meet your needs in terms of ergonomics, performance and safety.
Storage and Retrieval (S/R) System
Automated storage system comprising several solutions available on the market, which allows performing unit load and miniload operations. This reliable, time-saving and efficient system makes it possible to use the full height of the warehouse. It consists of a mast travelling along a rail parallel to an aisle, stockpiling goods on both sides of that aisle. Implementing a system such as this one is expensive because of its infrastructure, which is much larger than that of carousels.
Automated system designed to move boxes and bins. This smart solution uses storage space in an optimal manner, thanks to double depth storage. It is typically composed of a racking structure with an elevator allowing the shuttles to go up and down between the levels, and get to the workstations. This system ensures accurate and fast order picking operations. Flexible and scalable, it can increase storage capacity without hindering operations.
Cube-Based, Automated Storage System (AutoStore)
Renowned for its ease of use, AutoStore is both flexible and scalable. It includes 5 modules:
A structural grid;
Bins acting as storage containers;
Autonomous robots picking up and delivering the bins;
One or several operator workstations for end-of-line goods picking;
A controller, to regulate everything remotely.
Completely independent from the building, the system’s infrastructure allows quadrupling storage capacity. No need to relocate the warehouse.
It is important to understand these technologies when comparing them with one another, to find the one that best suits your business needs.
Person-to-Goods Order Picking
In comparison, this order picking method is rather manual. The operator moves to the goods to fulfill the order and uses material handling equipment that corresponds to the type of storage.
This model requires more floor space and leads to a lower processing capacity. On the other hand, the investment costs are low, which explains its wide use in companies. But this is not to say that traditional warehousing is not efficient. It still requires an optimal layout to meet productivity requirements.
Several factors can help you improve your layout:
Choosing the most appropriate storage system based on your products (static racking, hand-stack, single racking, drive-in, etc.);
Choosing the best handling equipment according to your storage systems (pallet trucks, forklifts, order-picking trucks, etc.);
Defining the best order picking strategy for your business (regular picking, zone picking, wave picking, batch picking, etc.);
Positioning the goods in the warehouse so that motion is reduced to a minimum, while paying attention to goods velocity and product categories;
Implementing a daily management system (WMS).
Regarding this last matter, it is crucial to operate a good WMS for it automates numerous operations and allows you to focus on value-added tasks. A flexible system such as HighJump™ Warehouse Edge can help you:
Improve inventory accuracy;
Reduce order fulfillment costs;
Monitor performance in a consistent and accurate manner;
Improve customer satisfaction.
AutoStore: THE automated Storage Solution
Now that you have a better understanding of these two order picking methods, let’s introduce you to the AutoStore system and the prerequisites of implementing such a technology. For starters, let’s watch the video below, which will help you grasp the basics:
How AutoStore Works
As mentioned in the video, AutoStore is fairly simple: bins are stacked one over the other in a structural grid. Robots, which move on rails on top of the grid, grab the bin containing the product to be picked. When the desired bin is buried under other bins, the robots stage the undesired bins on top of the grid in order to access the right container.
Once a robot has the bin, it delivers it to a workstation for an operator to pick the desired product. In the meantime, other robots put the staged bins back in the grid.
Finally, once the order is fulfilled, the robot grabs the bin and stores it on top of the system. This naturally creates a storage classification where high velocity goods can be found on top of the system, and low velocity goods end up at lower levels of the system.
Benefits of AutoStore
This reliable, simple and flexible system can be used to greatly improve storage capacity and optimize airspace while increasing storage density. Storage space savings can easily range from 40 to 60%. This undisputable advantage results from the system’s scalability. AutoStore can adapt to any environment, regardless of storage space characteristics.
Plus, the system’s unique redundancy helps it avoid the single point of failure. Thus, in case of robot failure or preventive maintenance, the other robots can take over.
In regards to productivity, AutoStore will meet your needs without a hitch. Just add robots and bins to gain in productivity. You can also expand your grid as your operations grow, without disrupting business. Productivity can reach up to 650 order lines per hour, per workstation.
It is precisely due to these many distinct advantages that we introduce you to this revolutionary product.
AutoStore Implementation Prerequisites
Prior to implementing a large-scale technology project, numerous key prerequisites are needed for a successful transition towards automation. We are listing a few below:
Having an updated warehouse layout;
Knowing your main logistics profiles;
Collecting product dimensioning data;
Outlining capacity requirements based on projected growth;
Breaking down operation costs and knowing your current productivity;