Is Your Warehouse a Candidate for Automation?
Some operators with older warehouses may feel left behind by this new wave of warehouse technology. They may believe they have no choice but to live with the limitations of their current processes and systems or may even be considering investing in a new build to address the challenges they face. Fortunately, there is a third alternative: adding automation to the existing facility.
Retrofitting Brownfield Warehouses with Robotic Automation
There are some challenges that may need to be addressed in older facilities, such as cracked or uneven floors. However, it’s much less expensive to repair or replace a cracked floor than to build a new facility. And lower capital costs are just one of the many benefits you can realize by adding automation to an existing warehouse.
AS/RS systems, such as Swisslog’s PowerStore pallet shuttle, can deliver up to 60% more storage capacity than existing shelfing or pallet storage, expanding warehouse capacity and freeing up space for other processes. In each-picking applications, goods-to-person AS/RS systems, such as AutoStore and CycloneCarrier, deliver productivity improvements of 200% to 300% with picking accuracy of 99% or better.
Automation can also reduce the environmental footprint of the facility by minimizing interplant and intra-plant transportation requirements, and the automation software delivers better visibility into product inventory, enhanced performance reporting and synchronization of manual and automated processes.
In short, you get the full benefits of today’s data-driven, robotic, and flexible automation technologies faster and at lower cost than you would by building a new automated warehouse.
The Swisslog Retrofit Process
Regardless of the automation system selected, implementation must be carefully managed to minimize disruption on current operations. Our process can often be accomplished while the facility continues to serve customers using established manual processes.
One approach that has been successful is to consolidate inventory in one area of the warehouse to free up space for the initial phase of the automation deployment. The first module of the automation system is then deployed and brought on-line as a pilot and the warehouse operates in hybrid manual-automated mode while the next module is deployed. Alternately, we’ve worked with customers who have been able to transfer some inventory to secondary locations to free up space for the first phase of implementation. Once the first module is deployed, inventory is transferred back to the facility and the increased storage density provided by the automation system can be leveraged to free up space for additional modules.
Giving New Life to Older Warehouses
For more information on automating existing warehouses, read our white paper, Implementing Warehouse Automation in Brownfield Sites, or contact us to schedule a site assessment.