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Trend: the intermediate steps from manual to automated order picking
In one of the last issues of Dutch magazine Logistiek in last year, journalist Peter de Weerd described one of the most striking trends within our warehouses. Manually picking is losing slowly but surely preference against automated systems.
The expectation of the materials handling manufacturers is that shuttle or other mechanized systems are about to see their real breakthrough. That breakthrough obviously has been caused by the tremendous rise of e-commerce activities in general and the additional shift of sending boxes or pallets to smaller packages. Moreover, it appears that these advanced storage systems continue to improve upon their 'traditional' drawbacks (lack of scalability or flexibility). Especially when these systems find their way amongst the major e-commerce players they can show a relatively fast ROI.
Other contributors to the mentioned article, and also here at Costo, argue that the ambities, medium-sized company could possibly gain more if they would focus on a smarter organization of existing processes. This is combination with clever tools and a more moderate deployment of mechanized systems.
We should certainly not forget the IT side of things. A recent study by Motorola about the near future expectancies of American supply chain professionals shows that more than 75% of the respondents expect companies will rely more on best-of-breed WMS versions. In short, they want many features and options to really get a good grip on the increased flow of goods and SKUs. Furthermore, they expect more automation in the warehouse, increasing storage areas and sizes (whereas in Europe we seek to squeeze more in the same space) and a large increase in the use of voice technology, scanning systems and screen guidance.
Obviously, Motorola tries to promote their own solutions with this white-paper, but the research answers just confirm that voice, pick-to-light and put-to-light solutions are replacing the commonly used paper orderpicklist.
Already at the last Logistica exhibition in the Netherlands, Costo allowed visitors to take a look in their R & D kitchen: we showed a combination of Put2light with an orderpick trolley, voice picking technology and an Oxboard; the self-balancing vehicle on 2 wheels. We showed this to visitors to prove we are always looking for new methods to make orderpicking cheaper or faster. As was to be expected, the Oxboard received a great deal of the attention. Then again, we found the comfortable “Voice vest” with integrated speakers and microphone also quite impressive. This jacket allows the orderpicker to work really 'free', because even a headset is no longer necessary with this solution.
More about this vest in another blog.
Source: Motorola whitepaper “FROM COST CENTER TO GROWTH CENTER: WAREHOUSING 2018”
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