Automation in warehouses
Automation of warehouses is a complex multi-level process, designed to optimize work, increase the throughput of processing applications and, as a consequence, improve profitability indicators.
The development of technology has greatly simplified the search and purchase of goods, now it does not matter what country you are in, you can make purchases anytime and anywhere without leaving your home or office. Warehouses are faced with a number of tasks that they continue to solve to this day:
Firstly, the need to process a larger number of applications, while diversifying the product line and increasing the number of units.
Secondly, an increase in the quantity of goods leads to the need for space optimization and economical storage.
Thirdly, the human factor, the number of errors increases significantly.
In the fourth document flow becomes difficult and very time-consuming process.
This task is partially handled by the WMS (Warehouse Management System). In fact, these are intelligent systems that automate, receive, ship, accommodate, store, workflow, as well as perform control functions.
How does it work in Amazon?
However, global companies such as Amazon have gone much further.
According to published statistics, only in the United States, this largest Internet site has made net sales of 178 billion dollars, while errors in the delivery of goods tend to zero. The mark-up on goods remains small, therefore, in order to stay afloat, the efficiency of processes plays a primary role.
The secret of the company lies in the balance of automation, robotization and manual labor. The largest warehouses of Amazon, or as they call them the Order Execution Centers, employ about 1,000 employees. At the same time, the company invests heavily in the development of software and hardware. Most of the goods sold through the site is not large, so storage racks are somewhat reminiscent of the library.
By the way, the storage system is very interesting, at first glance there is no definite order in it. HDMI cable can lie next to books, movies next to sports equipment. However, in this way the time it takes to get the goods from the shelf is reduced, since getting the cable from the shelf, where many of the same cables are more problematic than taking it between books.
After the buyer has pressed the buy button on the website, the signal goes to the nearest center where this product is available, and a light bulb lights up above the corresponding cell on the rack. Next, the sorters pick up the goods from the shelves, send them to the sorting conveyor, the automatic tape packs the goods for safe transportation, and then transport logistics comes into play. All this debugged mechanism is impossible without powerful software that controls all processes of the warehouse, distributing tasks between robots and humans, tracking and controlling all processes in real time
Yet the weakest link in this mechanism is the human factor. More recently, Amazon has presented new Kiva robots. Robots are capable of transporting up to 317 kg through the warehouse, while remaining fairly compact, only 30 cm high. Kiva moves strictly along a straight line, determining its location by bar codes on the floor. The use of Sick Inspector P30 visual sensors allows automated cranes to quickly distribute goods across the shelves.
Some Chinese companies went even further and were able to fully automate the work of the warehouse. An illustrative example of the site jd.com in its warehouse people do not work. All processes from receiving goods, scanning, storing, sorting, packing and shipping are done by robots, automated conveyors and a modern automated control system that controls all processes, distributes tasks, maintains documentation and performs other process management functions.
Let’s talk about security
An important condition for the warehouse is its safety. Fire safety plays a special role here. Flammable products, packaging materials are excellent food for fire. And the reasons for a fire can be many, from deliberate arson to problems with equipment, wiring. Modern fire systems can also be automated and integrated into a single system for monitoring and controlling a warehouse. Thus, the fire can be extinguished in the early stages and prevent significant losses.
Of course, only the largest operators can afford such a luxury as fully automated warehouses, but SHEN experts involved in the implementation of warehouse logistics projects agree that even partial and gradual automation of processes with a competent and integrated approach can significantly optimize resources and increase the profitability of an object .