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FEATURE STORAGE OPTIMISATION


Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) offer tremendous flexibility and, importantly, scaleability in traditional labour- intensive tasks such as order picking and put-away. AMR systems combined with pick-to-light technology can boost order-picking performance from under 100 units per hour using traditional methods, to up to 400 picks per hour, with an ROI that can be as little as twelve months.


Warehouse automation optimisation is crucial in handling the business successfully


Experience and expertise pays dividends, as there is always a danger of creating unnecessary complexity. For instance, producing hundreds of different product categories can introduce confusion, resulting in rigid processes and cumbersome, inflexible systems. Similarly, there can be a temptation to use technology where it’s not necessary, or an overly sophisticated solution could be too much.


4. REVIEW THE TECHNOLOGIES There are many different technologies that could potentially be used – from Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), zone-routing conveyors and flow- racking, to cross-belt sorters, pick- to-light systems and automated packaging solutions, to name but a few. However, finding the most effective and appropriate combination for the defined set of objectives requires technical knowledge, creative thinking and access to advanced tools.


Importantly, it helps if you consult an independent systems integrator as, not being bound by any one technology or in-house manufactured solution, they are free to be objective about specifying the right solution for the application. Bringing a combination of technologies together in a cohesive way, based on process efficiency and overall performance, is what counts, and much of this depends on the software development and the skills of the integrator to successfully tailor the solution for optimum performance.


5. MODEL THE OUTCOMES AND


10 MAY 2021 | IRISH MANUFACTURING SCENARIOS


Once it has been decided that some form of automation is needed, the next step is to review appropriate technology and model the solution to see how it performs. Simulation software brings a concept to life. At Invar Group, we have invested in leading-edge 3D simulation technology that enables us to select the most suitable materials-handling hardware from a virtual catalogue, and place appropriate technologies together as a concept system within the software. Then, by inputting a customer’s real data set, we can apply routing logic to allow us to view its performance and see in advance any potential bottlenecks in the system. Testing a concept in this way highlights where in the system there is too much capacity and where there isn’t enough, and, hence, where expansion is required. Then you can scenario plan for ‘what ifs’, such as twice as many orders, or twice as many products, what if slow movers became fast movers and what happens at peak?


6. FLEXIBILITY AND SCALEABILITY Most investments in automation are aimed at increasing capacity to facilitate growth. That’s why designing a system for flexibility and scaleability is so important. Using the right technology, a point solution can be expanded to grow with the business – that’s a benefit of modular technology. In recent years, tremendous advances have been made in areas such as mobile robotics and AI, giving SMEs access to low-capex solutions with huge benefits.


Mobile robots may also be used effectively to transport pallets within a warehouse, offering a more flexible alternative to fixed pallet conveyors. Flexible technology combined with powerful, intelligent software allows for a new way of thinking. A conventional conveyor system is normally installed to an agreed throughput, usually to a projected peak figure. But this results in the asset running below capacity for the majority of the year. On the quietest day it may only handle a tenth of the volume experienced at peak. However, a solution using AMRs could be designed for 70% of peak, with additional robots brought in during peak periods. It’s this level of scaleability that offers SMEs a flexible low-entry point to automation.


7. SELECT THE RIGHT PARTNER There may be any number of processes within a warehouse that are found to be a constraint on optimum performance, and there are many well-proven technologies that can be deployed – from weighing and auto volumetric sizing of goods received, conveyor runs and ASRS systems, to automated packaging machines, sortation equipment and pick- to-light technology, to name but a few. Importantly, it is the efficient integration of these processes, technologies and intelligent software that enables fast delivery of a solution and a trouble-free future. An intelligent system, conceived by expert design engineers and implemented by competent controls and software professionals, drives productivity and offers the agility needed to respond to change.


As an independent, full-spectrum automated warehouse solutions provider, Invar Group is free to select the most appropriate technology for the task, and being a multifaceted organisation that brings together skilled individuals with competencies across warehouse management software, systems integration and controls, we take responsibility for the complete turnkey- key system from start to finish.


Invar Systems www.invarsystems.com


/ IRISHMANUFACTURING


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