With so many supply chain disruption issues, trying to tackle them all takes a Herculean effort. Among the top issues for manufacturers and distributors is the labor shortage. There are many factors that could contribute to this:the Great Resignation,Silver Tsunami,changing job preferences of Gen Z, or simply the desire to avoid rather tough, repetitive, manual labor jobs.
In the face of this ongoing labor shortage, companies are turning to warehouse automation to combat supply chain disruptions, keep their businesses running, and even get ahead of the competition. It is automated solutions, such asautomated storage retrieval systems (AS/RS)that have been proven to reduce these negative impacts by improving order fulfillment processes, driving company growth and profitability, and putting the workers in safer environments. Westfalia’s Ryan Smith, VP of automation, recentlydelivered a presentation at MODEX 2022, identifying the effects of the labor shortages and discussing the key benefits of automation solutions in the warehouse.
It’s seen all over the news: millions of workers are quitting and retiring, and it’s up to the few to pick up the slack thanks to the exodus of the many. Naturally, DC and warehouse managers are doing their best to maintain and gain new employees. In fact, they are trying harder than ever, offering huge signing bonuses, regularly increasing hourly pay, providing free college tuition and textbooks, increasing benefits even when it can hurt long-term bottom lines, and conceding to unions. Yet, there are countless stories of companies, like a warehouse in Florida, stuck with unloaded trucks at the dock, dealing with high turnover, and in a constant loop of hiring and re-training staff. The problem has changed now to where you have to figure out how to get the same amount of work done with less people.
How to Fix It
- What metrics will I be using for my operation?
- What are my pain points?
- Who can I contact?
How you ship determines where, how, and which type of automation will work for you. It could include full pallet/unit load only, some layer picking, some case picking, or a hybrid model. Once that is determined, use data analytics to evaluate your options. A good automation company will take the data you have for how you ship today and help you better understand your path. Optimization is key, so while it may sound simple enough to automate everything, a hybrid solution is generally not only cheaper, but also more effective. The following automated solutions can greatly help your labor shortages:
- Unit Load Automation -单位负载处理可以使用AS/RS自动化。如果您知道当前的推出，补货和运输活动的速度，则每个S/RM都可以提高效率，并使叉车驾驶员的员工总数降低了相当大的百分比。另外，对空间的需求大大削减，缩短了单位负载的旅行量，并让您更高，并将更多的托盘包装到较小的空间中。
- Layer Picking -Fully automated layer picking can pick exponentially more than if done manually, picking up and moving entire layers from one pallet to another and creating rainbow pallets. Not only does automation allow for a higher number of SKUs to successfully be picked, but each machine only requires one person to simply work with it and unwrap the pallets.
- Case Picking –If a fully automated case picking solution is too expensive, a hybrid solution may actually be best. Automate what you can and keep manual the processes that are prohibitively expensive. When integrated with an AS/RS, headcount can be reduced while also empowering those that still do manual labor. There is less need for replenishers while pickers are more efficient and accurate with the help of automation.
Robots are Friends
What To Do Next