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November 17, 2022

As you grow and scale your business, odds are likely you are searching for more hours in the day and any possible way to save time. Even a few minutes each day can add up over the course of a month or year. This is why we’re here to talk about warehouse automations today. 


Warehouse automations have the potential to save you thousands of hours every year and allow you to utilize your employees where you need them most. Warehouse automation is becoming an increasingly important priority for many warehouses today. 


In 2021, the warehouse automation industry is estimated to grow by almost 38.4 percent to reach $19.5 billion. 


What exactly are we referring to when we say “warehouse automation”? In simple terms, warehouse automation is essentially automating any process within the warehouse, allowing for an action to occur automatically without the need for much human intervention. 


As you can imagine, this is especially helpful in a warehouse with various tasks throughout the shipping and fulfillment process. 


Over the course of this article, we will provide a brief overview on warehouse automation. Instead of spending hours diving into technical terms, this article will provide several simple automations you can implement easily in your warehouse. Lastly, we will dive into the benefits of implementing these automations. 


Levels of Warehouse Automation

warehouse worker gathering warehouse inventory from pick faces

There are different levels of warehouse automation. Warehouse automations range from the most simple automations to complete robotic automation. The thought of robotic automation may seem overwhelming and expensive- don't worry. You can start with simple, affordable automations that will provide a great return on investment.

 

How to Know When To Automate Your Warehouse

You may be wondering, is it time to automate my warehouse? Answering yes to several questions below may indicate that it’s time to move towards automation.


  • Are the warehouse employees feeling burned out from high demand?
  • Are customer orders often delayed?
  • Are customer satisfaction levels declining?
  • Are inventory counts often inaccurate?
  • Have error rates and mis shipments increased?

  • This is just a sample of a few questions that could indicate you may benefit from simple warehouse automations.

    Warehouse employee scanning SKU barcode with Finger-scanner

    4 Simple Automations

    Barcode Scanning for Picking

    Using paper to direct your warehouse pickers should be a thing of the past. An iPad allows you to see a clear and large visual representation of your picking and packing process. Because the iPad is typically mounted on a pick cart or packing station, this frees up your hands to do tasks faster and more efficiently. 


    Unlike expensive RF guns, iPads are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace, and are widely available. This is also where the barcode scanning comes in. The ipad connects with a scanner that allows you to scan the barcode for each item as you pick the items for the order. 


    There is no need to manually check to ensure you have the correct item as the iPad and scanner do this job for you. This process ensures accuracy and reduces picking errors, resulting in happier customers.


    Automated Inventory Counts

    Keeping track of inventory by hand is very tedious and time consuming. It is also easy to miscount or forget to track, leaving the inventory levels inaccurate. This can leave customers frustrated when they purchase an in-stock item, to be lanter notified that the item is not actually available. 


    Which is why you should automate inventory counts. Warehouse management software makes it possible to keep track of your inventory automatically. Tracking begins the moment your inventory hits the floor and continues to the moment inventory is packed and shipped out to your customer.


    Automated Dashboards

    With automated dashboards, there’s no need to record manually every move in your warehouse. Get real time data on metrics like picks-per-hour, congested areas, and overall efficiency. 


    Powerful insights are important in understanding how to direct your warehouse and hit your overall goals. These metrics will help you understand what areas you need to improve, how many employees you need, and how to achieve greater efficiency. 


    The metrics up date in real time, which means there is no delay like there would be if you had to record manually.


    Automated Verification Process

    Happy customers are the key to success. It’s important to take necessary steps to ensure that your customers are receiving the right packages on-time. 


    With the automated verification process and iPad directed picking system, you no longer have to just hope that an employee picked the right item. The iPad will verify the order and item for you through the system. 


    The verification process results in fewer errors, happier customers, and less wasted expenses.



    Benefits of Direct to Consumer

    Reduced Costs

    With current employment trends, it is becoming very competitive to hire and retain employees. In order to attract competent and committed employees, you have to offer a reasonable salary. 


    There are many costs associated with employees including salary, health insurance, human resources ,etc.It is estimated that employees make up 65% of a typical warehouse operating budget. 


    Warehouse automations create less tasks for employees and can reduce the need for additional employees. A warehouse can grow and scale without requiring large increases in new hires.


    Increased Efficiency & Accuracy

    Simply put, humans are humans. Meaning that humans are not perfect and make mistakes! We are not suggesting that human workers are not necessary and useful. 


    Humans are crucial to the success of many roles that technology and robotics simply cannot replicate. However, some repetitive tasks are better off completed by automated systems.Automated picking accuracy can reach a 99.99% accuracy rate. 


    Automating these simple warehouse tasks allows for employees to spend their time in important roles that can only successfully be filled by a human.


    Increased Safety

    Your warehouse employees may begin feeling burned out when they are dealing with a high demand of orders to be fulfilled every day. Burnout and exhaustion can lead to unsafe decisions and situations. 


    An employee is more likely to make a crucial error or mistake when they are feeling exhausted, which can jeopardize the safety of all employees and warehouse equipment. There is also the aspect of ergonomics to worry about when employees are completing repetitive tasks. 


    Depending on the task, the employee could be in a less than ideal position that could lead to chronic injury. For example, performing a task where they are having to bend over frequently can compromise their back. In order to prevent injuries and unsafe environments, automation is a great option. Automation allows you to take a portion of the strain off the employees. 


    Automation makes it easier for workers to complete their tasks, and it also takes care of some tasks so that the employees no longer have to spend time or energy on the tasks. Automation allows you to keep up with the demand without compromising health and safety. 


    Increased ROI

    You might be thinking, all of these automations sound like a great idea, but they must come with a significant cost. We’re here to explain that these simple automations, available through warehouse software like WarehouseOS, are not only affordable but also provide a great return on investment. 


    Here are a few quotes from happy WarehouseOS customers:


    “If we had to spend several days training seasonal workers, that cost is too high to ever see an ROI. WarehouseOS is user-friendly and easy to learn right from the start.” -Cody Leishman, Director of Supply Chain at Blender Bottle


    “We were able to double our square footage, add thousands of pick faces, and put out over 20% more orders with 20% fewer labor hours, all in the same facility.” -Scott Cornelius, Deseret Book Distribution Center Manager


    With WarehouseOS and implementing these simple automations, customers can experience:

    • 100% faster productivity
    • 400+ more picks per hour
    • 30 minute training time
    • ½ the cost per package

    These effects provide a great ROI, and make choosing to spend on dynamic warehouse software worth every penny.

    Worker looking at WarehouseOS mobile app when picking inventory

    Finding the Right Warehouse Management Software

    The right warehouse management software is key to your success in automating a warehouse. WarehouseOS reduces the burden on your employees by automating many tasks. A few key features of WarehouseOS important to warehouse automation, similar to the automation we discussed above, include:

    • Batch pick: optimize productivity and increase speed by picking up to 100 orders at a time
    • Cycle count: Perform simple, reliable, and accurate inventory counts without the need to stop and record data by hand.
    • Metrics dashboard: Get automated real time data on metrics like picks-per-hour, congested areas, and overall efficiency.
    • Packing: Print labels seamlessly and pack orders quickly and accurately with the built-in verification process.
    • Single pick: Simplify the picking process with an easy-to-use iPad app, ring scanner, and integrated picking cart system.
    • Receiving: Quickly and accurately confirm your incoming vendor shipments. Eliminate confusion on the receiving dock and easily put your inventory in the right place.

    In Conclusion

    We hope this article opened your eyes to the power of warehouse automations. As we discussed, even small automations can make a big difference in your warehouse operations. 


    Investing in solids warehouse management software can help you easily employ these automations and provide a great ROI. Reach out to us at WarehouseOS today for a free consultation if you’re looking to take your warehouse to the next level and reduce the stress on your company and employees. 


    We can provide expert advice on how to improve your warehouse today, no strings attached.


    Olivia Hoj
    Olivia Hoj



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