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Warehouse Automation in the Food and Beverage industry

Warehouse automation brings revolutionary changes in different types of industries. Food and Beverage industry is one of it. The food and Beverage industry has been both on the trailing and leading edge of the technology especially when it comes to the material handling automation in their distribution centers. This industry is undergoing so many changes that make warehouse automation a more appealing option for middle size companies.

The technology most often considered includes warehouse management systems (WMS), warehouse control system (WCS), voice and light directed order fulfillment, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS), flow-through case sequencing, package and pallet conveyor, sorters, automated mixed case palletizing, and trailer loaders. AS/RS and associated software can be applied in various areas. The most appropriate areas to consider include put-away functions, product storage (especially in a freezer), and replenishment of the pick modules. Therefore, the number of “touches” by worker can be dramatically reduced. This addresses the biomechanical and harsh environment issues. Also, AS/RS maximizes use of cube space reducing the overall system footprint. Furthermore, AS/RS can accommodate slow movers. When slow movers need to be picked, the AS/RS can create “variable pick faces” in a pick module.

Flow-through case taging/sorting/sequencing solutions allow food & beverage companies to reduce “touches” to product. This increases throughput and accuracy so they can take receipts and ship the same day. As a result, there are more inventory turns and longer shelf life at the store. A warehouse execution system (WES) helps optimize warehouse performance by anticipating issues, building agility into your distribution center, and addressing the problems that impact fulfilling orders. Automated systems can provide high throughput rates and reduce the need for seasonal labor as well as increase the speed in which orders are processed. Voice and light directed order fulfillment systems dramatically increase order picking accuracy while speeding the process.

WES software along with sortation/ sequencing systems allows loads to be grouped by product family before shipping. Today’s distribution centers can raise the bar on productivity while reducing costs, speeding up the process, and improving customer service through the effective application of automation and software solutions.

Mixed load palletizing has been especially driven by the need for warehouses to ship to multiple channels. The ASRS has to build the pallet to the right weight for it to be stable. A pallet can include Coke, cereal and soup cans, but they must be in the right positions to be a stable pallet. That’s where Robots for Warehouse Automation Online are most effective.

The advanced material handling automation and order picking technologies are used to assist companies for competing in the food and beverage industry:

  • Selective pallet rack are replaced with pallet rack pick tunnels with reserve stock overhead to reduce replenishment labor. This type of equipment places full case pick faces closer together, which reduces order picker travel Warehouse Robotics Companies Alberta. These high end equipment places the replenishment locations closer to the pick faces with reserve product which automatically reduces replenishment labor.
  • Pick-to-voice order picking terminology is used to enhance productivity in the split and full case picking operations
  • Split case picking operations are using Pick-To-Voice and Pick-To-Light technology to pick 2-4 orders at the same time (called cluster or batch picking).They are pairing this with zone routing conveyor system to enhance their picking productivity.
  • Pick-to-voice can be a supportive gear in the full case picking operations as it increase productivity of the overall system by 10-15% and accuracy by 50%. Rest no other changes are introduced to the operation.
  • Automated Storage and Retrieval systems can assist with efficiency gain when they are applied to larger and more complex scenarios.
  • Automated case picking systems can pick and palletize mixed SKU order pallets with no direct labor required. These system use miniload shuttles and ASRS to pick and sequence random cases to automatic palletize.
  • Unit load ASRS systems are highly used to store full pallet of SKU in small footprint buildings. These systems are used to automatically replenish fast moving SKU’s pick modules and pick tunnels. In general cold storage food operations use this technology to reduce refrigeration and construction costs when picking and storing full pallets.
  • Though Pallet shuttle technology is relatively new, now it is gaining popularity day by day. It is used to store and retrieve full pallets in drive in style type of rack. It can enhance pallet storage density and eliminate pallet picking and replenishment labor. These ASRS systems are highly used for fast moving SKUs.

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