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By Rueben Scriven | August 14, 2020 Over the past 10 years, the way in which we order things and interact with retailers has changed significantly, and so too have the logistical operations required to fulfill orders. Historically, throughput tended to be the limiting constraint within warehouses, which gave rise to the ‘convey and sort’ style warehouse automation solution. However, as retailers continue to adopt and roll out omni-channel distribution models, new logistical constraints are becoming more prevalent – such as the need for system flexibility. This insight discusses some of the biggest trends in warehouse automation solution design and the impact this will have on industrial automation vendors. In order to address under-utilization, several warehouse automation vendors now provide modular solutions which can be scaled up or down depending on demand. System Modularity One of the biggest challenges e-retailers face is forecasting demand. It can be difficult for e-retailers to forecast sales a week in advance, let alone several years down the line. This poses a big challenge for when deciding how best to fulfill eCommerce orders. If the e-retailer opts for an in-house fulfillment operation using automation, the solution design will have to take into account future capacity requirements. Because this is often exceedingly difficult to predict, many e-retailers either under-utilize the warehouse asset during the first few years of operation, or outsource the fulfillment operation all together. In order to address under-utilization, several warehouse automation vendors now provide modular solutions which can be scaled up or down depending on demand. Interroll, for example, has developed its Modular Conveyer Platform (MCP) which enables its customers to ‘re-wire’ the conveyor network using standard plug-and-play modules. This may result in changes in purchasing patterns as warehouse automation equipment providers may purchase components, such as drives and rollers, in higher […]
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