By Bob Jane, Business Development Manager, SSI Schaefer.
Warehouse storage problems come in all different sizes and shapes, no two products or distribution facility is the same which is why suppliers of Order Fulfilment Systems need to think outside the box when offering their solutions and accommodate a variety of picking needs.
The current economic downturn has meant that solutions within the warehouse need to be found that not only improve bottom line performance and exploit a competitive advantage but that can also help a business to grow and adapt whilst keeping up with evolving internal and external environments – automated systems can play a key role in ensuring such measures are succeeded and it is this area of logistics that will become even more prevalent during the next 12 months.
Any company considering warehouse automation should consider the modular approach to system building and integration, enabling small and medium sized operators to grow, change, adapt and invest in stages with ease over time – an alternative option to investing in a brand new facility for example.
Where the requirement is a system that does not require a costly warehouse control system, it is possible to set up a basic order fulfilment system comprising shelf locations for stock storage and a central conveyor system with pick stations. An example is SSI Schaefer’s Mini Pick, which can pick over 1,000 items an hour.
If a more advanced picking solution is required, for example over 2,000 picked items per hour, warehouse operators can introduce controlled software taking the ABC profile of a product into account and allowing for a more balanced combination of picking from pallets, flow racks and shelving. Installing ergonomically designed pick stations on a mezzanine floor, with the added option of pack and quality control stations, will offer great space saving benefits whilst fast moving stock on pallets and an enhanced dispatch conveyor system on ground level will allow for easy access when moving pallets. SSI Schaefer’s Midi Pick is ideal for this type of operation.
A warehouse control system using radio frequency terminals should be considered if warehouse operators require an advanced, highly dynamic, efficient and flexible picking system. Pick accuracy and confirmed quantities will increase if product barcodes are scanned during the picking process. Ideally suited to this type of operation is the Mega Pick, a more advanced system developed by SSI Schaefer benefiting from an online host interface and a supervisor cockpit for easy control.
Warehouse operators looking for complete picking automation should install a fully automated picking system with an online host interface, providing warehouse operators with the option to pick products stored on a mezzanine floor whilst being immediately updated on operational elements including outstanding orders, stock updates, picked and dispatched orders. The installation of a semi-automatic carton erector, an automated carton closing machine and ergonomically designed pick stations equipped with the latest Pick by Light technology will ensure a simple pick operation free of errors. SSI Schaefer’s Giga Pick will deliver such a solution.
A new cost-effective, self-installed and configured, entry-level pick-by-light system named i-Pick has been developed by SSI Schaefer that can increase warehouse output levels by 300% over standard picking systems. With no costly installation fees, it is the only product on the market that the customer can install without external support.
The system is capable of managing an entire warehouse, parts of it or simply to act as an upgrade to an existing pick-by-light system and promises a faster, more efficient and reliable picking process that is easy to install.