I like this time of the year. Give yourself a clean slate and get on the change train. “Change before you have to” as Jack Welch said. It is going to happen anyway; you might as well be the one choosing the change. If you are reading this, you are probably associated with the Supply Chain industry. The term supply chain used to be just a military term. Now it is a hot industry full of opportunity and cutting-edge technology.
ASRS Systems surge
I spend my time in the intralogistics sector. Intralogistics optimizes the efficiency of supply chains inside the four walls of a manufacturing and/or distribution center. One of the biggest trends in intralogistics is automation. While automation has been around since the late 1700’s and almost exclusively in manufacturing applications, now it is being implemented in the intralogistics sector of the supply chain at an exponential rate. It is happening in big businesses and small businesses alike. My experience tells me that most companies start with a modest investment in automation technology, learn from that investment, get comfortable and then continue to invest as appropriate. Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) is one of the faster growing technologies in this sector.
The subset of the ASRS automation segment is:
- Mini Load
- Unit Load
- Vertical Lift Modules
- Horizontal Carousels
- Vertical Carousels
- Cube Based Storage
The global ASRS Industry is an $8 billion industry headed towards $12 billion by the year 2027. Below are just a few of the many reasons why this segment has become so large and continues to grow at a very healthy pace.
ASRS is not just for big wealthy companies.
- Well featured ASRS Systems can be implemented for less than $175,000.
- ROI can be 1 – 3 years in many cases, sometimes less than one year.
- Minimal effort and disruption to ongoing operations.
Companies can start small.
- Basic systems can be used in both manufacturing (WIP) and order picking applications at the same time.
- It can be integrated with standalone inventory optimization software to increase space utilization, productivity, and accuracy.
Flexibility is built into many ASRS designs.
- Change product sizes easily, in some cases automatically.
- Accommodate a wide variety of product weights and sizes.
- Customizable for many environments – clean room, humidity and temperature control, flammables, nitrogen purge, etc.
- 10-feet tall to 100-feet tall with multiple access points for manual and automated interaction.
Many ASRS systems are easily scalable with a little space planning up front.
- Start with one section, grow to one Pod/Lane, add on a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.
- Integrate inventory optimization software with your ERP to digitally manage data flow.
- Add a zone divert conveyor system with batch picking as throughput requirements dictate.
- Incorporate autonomous mobile robots – AMRs to integrate ASRS systems with traditional picking and consolidation methods.
- Future proof your operation by adding robotic picking and put away.
ASRS systems improve throughput by making the most of labor efficiency.
Improved picking accuracy up to 99.9% through use of:
- Fully automated picking
- Pick to light functionality
- Barcode verification
Goods to picker technology significantly improves worker safety and ergonomics.
Provides highest possible storage density.
Densification of storage saves significant floor space by using the vertical cube.
- Can be as high as 65% savings depending on current storage methods.
Substantial labor productivity increases – as much as 85%.
Improved material security for high value items.
Overall improvements in inventory control and real time inventory visibility.
The automation change train
In summary, ASRS systems have been used since the early 1960’s and have been evolving ever since. Technology continues to expand its beneficial influence on intralogistics operations. More and more, it is helping smaller companies to leverage the processes and methods only once available to big business. Whether you are small or big, who knows exactly which track the automation change train will take you down. It does not matter so much where it takes you, but that you get on!
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