Like most modern businesses, manufacturers and distributors are continually looking for ways to streamline their processes, reduce costs, and improve productivity. In addition to being a challenging task, it’s also exhausting and potentially expensive: How can you keep up with all of the industry changes that occur? How much will it cost to upgrade your distributor technology or manufacturer technology? And, where do you even start?
One way to go about this is to implement warehouse automation at your facility. An automated warehouse is one that increases productivity and efficiency to get a rapid return on investment (ROI) through the use of warehouse automation technology.
Here are some of the automation technologies you need to make your warehouse operations more productive and efficient:
RPA Aids Back Office Operations and Warehouse Logistics
Robotic process automation (RPA) is an incredible tool for handling repetitive IT-related functions and office tasks. Not only does it free up your employees to work on more challenging or critical tasks, but it also helps to reduce the likelihood of errors. Some of the benefits of integrating RPA into your back-office operations is that it can increase efficiency, reduce errors, decrease operational costs, and help enhance communication.
In distribution, warehouse logistics is the detailed organization behind what you do and how you do it. It refers to the very core of what you do — everything from receiving, handling, and storing materials, to shipping them out again. When you continually look for ways to improve processes through automation, you get to enjoy incredible efficiencies and increased productivity by installing software that monitors and tracks virtually everything as it occurs.
As a warehouse manager who uses RPA software, you’ll have access to a wealth of actionable data that helps you to make better and more informed decisions. However, you’ll need to ensure that your in-house IT team or managed service provider (MSP) regularly performs maintenance to ensure your system and network stay up and running in good condition.
Sortation Systems & Packaging Machines Save Time & Money
Sorting systems are highly versatile and are designed for high throughput industries or diverse product handling. Automatic sortation systems include linear, loop/circular, pocket, pinwheel, narrow belt and other types of sorters (depending on the model and brand), and they are used for a variety of workflow operations. Catalog, hardware, baggage, e-commerce, warehouse distribution, retail, and parcel freight industries (as well as many others) use these warehouse automation systems extensively.
Automated packaging systems also help to increase productivity for a variety of industries. These incredible machines and conveyor systems can assemble boxes, insert cardboard bottom inserts, products, and any documentation to go with it. Orders and shipments will be more accurate with automated packaging systems, which will also save your organization both time and money.
Automatic Strapping Machines Reduce Labor, Increase Productivity
Manufacturing technology and distributor technology, such as strapping machines, often require training and manpower to operate if they are manual or semi-automatic. However, when you adopt a fully-automatic strapping machine into your production line, you’ll immediately see a difference concerning your labor costs and productivity.
Unlike human employees, these types of manufacturer technology don’t require breaks, salaries, benefits, health insurance or Workers’ Compensation insurance. Automatic strapping machines can keep running long after an employee needs to take a break, and they don’t get tired or slow down. They also can work at a rate of strapping up to 10-20 bundles or packages per minute for a semi-automatic machine or 30-70 for an arch or fully automatic strapping machine — significantly faster than a human worker.
So long as they receive regular preventative maintenance and upkeep, your machines will be able to minimize downtime, therefore increasing your productivity substantially.
Transfer Your Warehouse Management System to the Cloud
As the use of cloud technology continues to increase for small and medium-size business (SMBs), more successful distributors are adopting cloud services. This form of software-as-a-service (SaaS) can help your business take advantage of various benefits, including:
- Having access to the most up-to-date software without all of the extra costs of system upgrades and software updates;
- Reducing costs and increase cost-effectiveness;
- Scalability — the service grows with your business;
- Having greater control over who sees what data;
- 24/7 access anytime, anywhere you have an internet connection; and
- Freeing up your in-house IT staff to help grow your business.
A cloud-deployed warehouse management system (WMS) enables warehouse managers to track and monitor all of the data that is available through the system. A cloud-based WMS is a critical automation tool that helps you ensure that all of your warehousing operations run efficiently.
As an IT services firm for manufacturers and distributors in the greater Los Angeles area, we understand the challenges your organization faces in integrating warehouse automation into your business. To recap, some of the ways that automation technologies can help to make your warehouse operations more productive and efficient include:
- Streamlining warehouse logistics and back-office operations;
- Saving time and money with automated sortation and packaging machines;
- Increasing productivity and reducing labor costs with automatic strapping processes; and
- Increasing control, access, and usefulness of a WMS with cloud technology.
To learn more about distributor technology, be sure to check out our Distributor Resource Center by clicking on the image below.
How have you implemented warehouse automation within your organization? What were some of the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below, or send me an email to discuss this topic more in depth.