21st Century Warehouse Essentials: Intralogistics and AS/RS

The secret to a smart supply chain lies in creating robust internal logistics. By harnessing the current state-of-the-art technology in the internal logistics space, Intralogistics will prove to be the sine qua non of a smart supply chain management with its various organs including AS/RS. We try and explore the intricacies behind transitioning to AS/RS.

Intralogistics means the process of optimizing, integrating, automating and managing the logistical physical flows of supply, production and distribution within the confinements of a distribution centre. By combining information processing with updated material-handling software, optimal productivity has been achieved for both manual and automated systems.

The importance of Intralogistics

Companies have a distinct edge over the others when they leverage Intralogistics technologies to handle the internal logistics of their operations in order to streamline supply chain management.

The traditional supply chain handles three core functions: Supplying materials, the process of manufacturing and the distribution of finished goods. However, the internal process of material handling and movement- the potent force that executes the entire process, is now slowly garnering attention.

By improving the management of these internal processes, companies can bring about additional benefits in their overall operation:

  • Minimize inventory
  • Improve product time to market
  • Enhance flexibility
  • Improve employee safety

The road to Automated Warehouses

An Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS or AS/RS) encompasses a variety of computer-controlled systems for placing and retrieving loads from defined storage locations automatically.

An important organ of Intra-logistics and a means to head towards automated warehouses, AS/RS are typically used in applications that deal with high volume of loads moving in and out of cargo. Further, the growth of e-commerce has been responsible in bolstering the market growth for AS/RS.

Features of AS/RS

AS/RS usually have four major components: the storage rack, the input/output system, the storage and retrieval (S/R) equipment, and the computer management system.

There are different types of AS/RS, and products are used in a variety of warehousing and manufacturing environments – be it tunnel-style systems or High speed sorting box buffers.

An AS/RS can be used with standard loads as well as nonstandard loads. So far as application is concerned, the systems may operate in a fully-automatic mode or semi-automatic mode, depending on AS/RS capabilities and application requirements.

Making the most of AS/RS

An effective automated storage and retrieval system has a host of benefits for supply chain management:

Slashing Expenses: An efficient AS/RS system assists companies to cut down on expenses by restricting the amount of unnecessary parts and products in storage. It improves organization of the contents of a warehouse. Due to automated processes, it also allows for more storage space due to high-density storage, narrower aisles, etc.

Increased Safety and Reduced Labour Costs: While lowering workforce requirements, Automation reduces labour costs and increases safety.

Improved tracking for better warehousing: Warehouse space can be better utilized with efficient tracking of product- the place they are stocked, the suppliers they come from, and the duration of time they are stored.

Enhancing the Quality of Warehousing through AS/RS

By incorporating AS/RS into your distribution centre, noticeable improvement in quality and efficiency of warehousing can be observed. According to Asim Behera, Executive Board Member of Daifuku, “AS/RS improves efficiency by significantly increasing the productivity of employees. At first, a lot of the mundane movements of putting away, picking, sorting etc. are now done automatically.

“Employees need not go into the storage racking at all. They shall interface with the total storage solution be it for as small as 5000 pallets or 100,000 pallets only via selected few conveyor touchpoints. Additionally, the use of special equipment such as forklifts, reach trucks etc. which needs especially skilled staff is significantly reduced thereby increasing safety and business continuity many folds.”

This is an abridged version of the full story that was orginally published in the February issue of Logistics Insider magazine. To read the full story, download the ecopy now.

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