While automation solutions are often seen in large warehouses that turn over thousands of daily orders, smaller operations can equally benefit from the integration of automation technologies. With a smaller footprint and thoughtful design, tailored solutions can allow you to reap benefits such as lower labor costs, increased inventory control, and improved overall efficiency.
Why Automation Can Be Ideal for a Small Footprint
When assessing how automation could impact a small footprint, each square foot of space is even more valuable than in a large facility. Many automation solutions can be scaled to the unique size of your facility as well as the challenges your operation is faced with. The reliability and consistency that automation brings, coupled with simplified maintenance, make it an attractive choice for smaller organizations who need to achieve improved productivity and cost savings. Automation in a small footprint is often the ideal solution to maximize operational efficiency and gain agility to navigate the complexities of the modern supply chain.
Examples of Automation Solutions for Small-Footprints
As every operation’s needs are unique, there is no “best” automation solution for small footprints. However, there are popular solutions highlighted below that are designed with space-savings in mind.
High Density Storage & Picking Solutions
High-density storage and picking solutions are flexible, easily scalable options that fit most small-footprint warehouses. These solutions typically involve storing totes in a very dense storage system and having the totes brought to a picking station to allow items to be selected to fulfill orders. By definition, these are goods to person storage and picking solutions that help warehouse managers make the most of limited floor space. Small-footprint warehouses can significantly benefit from this high-density storage and picking solutions, as they enable businesses to overcome spatial constraints, improve productivity, and meet the growing demands of e-commerce and rapid order fulfillment while giving them the freedom to expand in the future to meet changing business needs.
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS)
AS/RS systems are designed to optimize vertical space in warehouses by automating the storage and retrieval of goods. These systems use robotic cranes and conveyors to move items between storage locations and picking stations. AS/RS helps maximize storage density and efficiency, making it suitable for warehouses with limited floor space.
Vertical Lift Machines (VLMs)
VLMs, or vertical carousels or lift modules, are automated storage systems that efficiently utilize vertical space. These machines consist of vertically arranged trays or carriers that can move up and down to retrieve and store items. VLMs are suitable for warehouses with limited floor space as they provide high-density storage and quick access to stored goods. Operators can request specific items, and the VLM retrieves them, reducing the need for extensive manual searching and inventory handling. This automation solution is effective for small warehouses aiming to optimize storage space and improve picking efficiency.
Storage Solution’s In-House Resources Critical for Design
The design of an automation solution in a smaller footprint requires an exceptional understanding of the existing operation to tailor a solution that matches the footprint and the products being moved. Storage Solution’s technology-agnostic approach, paired with our in-house team’s experience and skills, allows our team to find the most effective solution to your problem.
No matter the size of your warehouse, automation is not just a nice thing to have in the future but a must-have in the present to ensure your warehouse can scale and grow at its full potential. Our team is ready to help evaluate your existing operations, find the most prevalent bottlenecks, and design a solution that will alleviate operational challenges.
Ready to start the process of solving your operational challenges? Get in contact with a Storage Solution’s automation expert here!