Tomorrow’s Warehouse: Partner Opinion
Highly dynamic automation
The warehouse of tomorrow will be highly automated, says Joel Garbutt, Head of Sales
Northern Europe, TGW.
It is the only way for retailers to respond to the
challenges they are facing today: the unpredictability
of demand, the demand for an increased service level
and the scarcity of labour.
Optimised processes and digitalisation create
efficiency and transparency and ensure that the
requirements for quick delivery can be fulfilled. Goods-to-
man-solutions and highly dynamic shuttle systems are
increasingly the beating heart of the modern warehouse.
The growing success of e-commerce has prompted
many retailers to switch to an omnichannel approach. As
a result, the warehouse has become the core centre for
the supply chain, and no longer the physical shop.
E-commerce has also created more transparency.
Picking errors or longer lead times can no longer be
covered up by the physical shop but are immediately
shared on social media. Empowered and demanding
customers are constantly imposing new demands on
logistics and distribution.
To respond to this trend, retailers have focused on
streamlining their productivity. At the same time, there
has also been an increase in the number of SKUs:
consumers demand more and more product variations
and retailers use of different packaging units.
In this new context, advanced goods-to-man-systems
play an important role. Highly dynamic shuttle systems
are the heart of this solution. They guarantee a constant
supply of totes to the workstations. Order pickers receive
the items in the correct order, which enables a fast
processing of the order. Because the stock is safely stored
on a limited floor space, the risk of product damage is
almost zero. The function of ‘walking distance’ can also be
eliminated from the overall order picking time. It is
therefore possible to collect orders from various channels
and with a constant lead-time.
A strongly controlled supply process also contributes
to a high inventory reliability. In addition, shuttle systems
are also suitable for goods with widely varying rotations,
which is the case in omnichannel environments.
In more and more warehouses, the scalability of the
systems is also a key aspect. TGW therefore developed
FlashPick, providing answers to general questions
regarding efficiency and cost reduction in a warehouse. It
is based on a shuttle system for automated storage and
retrieval (AS/RS) of totes, combined with a high-performance
one-to-one picking workstation. The
process is very easy for the picker: The system presents
one SKU container to pick from and another one order
container to pick into. After the picking process, the SKU
containers return to the system while the order ones can
be routed towards the shipping area.
To respond to the scarcity of labour, FlashPick also
supports fully automated order picking. In this case,
FlashPick is combined with a Robotic workstation. This
solution combines a fast gantry robot, several cameras
and innovative software. This allows for a wide range of
articles – in terms of shape, size, colour and material – to
be picked in a fully automated way. With the help of deep
learning, the gripping location can be
calculated very quickly, making extremely
reliable automatic order picking possible. The
question is no longer whether automation is
necessary, but what level and type of
automation is the right one for my warehouse.