6 Technologies that Support Full Case Order Picking System
Though full case picking has historically been historically a manual operation, with today’s technologies, it no longer needs to be. A range of automation technologies can be leveraged in multiple stages of your operation in order to convert it into a fully- or semi-automated process.
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Automating your full case picking system can empower you to realize a number of valuable benefits, including:
- Increased order accuracy
- Reduced labor constraints
- Maximized picking and replenishment efficiencies
- Simplification of your consolidation process
- All around higher levels of profit
Below, we discuss the various technologies you may be able to leverage within your operation to support a full case picking system.
Technologies to Support Full Case Picking
1. Unit-Load and Mini-Load AS/RS
Supports: Storage, Picking
Mini-load AS/RS, in particular, is often touted as one of the most effective technologies that you can leverage for case-sized storage and picking. It is capable of storing and retrieving trays, cartons, or totes of inventory, and can fulfill a goods-to-person role. Implementing such a technology can give you much denser storage in your warehouse, helping you make the most of a small footprint, while simultaneously relying on fewer workers and driving down your employment costs.
2. Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) & Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)
Supports: Picking, Conveyance, Replenishment
Though they are a relative newcomer to the automation scene, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs)—and their cousins automated guided vehicles (AGVs)—can play a powerful role in supporting a full case picking system. Both of these technologies can help you streamline your workflow and reduce your labor costs.
AMRs come in a variety of forms, each of which is capable of supporting a range of activities and needs. In supporting a full case picking system, for example, AMRs might be leveraged to:
- Transport and replenish inventory
- Support conventional (person-to-goods) picking
- Support goods-to-person picking
- Consolidate orders
- And more
AGVs, on the other hand, are more likely to play a role in your facility’s replenishment and storage processes than they are to directly influence your picking practices.
3. Pick Modules
Supports: Picking, Conveyance
As it is related to a full case picking system, a pick module is essentially a multi-leveled racking system which houses full cases of inventory. As your worker picks the required cases for their order, they are placed onto a conveyor which takes it away on its journey toward fulfillment.
In leveraging a pick module, it’s possible to dramatically reduce fulfillment costs, as your workers are not walking or driving as much within the warehouse to reach product. Depending on the specific type of pick module used in your operation, it would likely need to be supported by varying degrees of sortation and buffer conveyor.
4. Case Sorters
Supports: Picking, Conveyance, Consolidation
A case sorter can support your full case picking strategy in a number of ways, depending on how your facility is arranged and organized. As just one example: If you are leveraging a pick module (above), a sortation system can act as the takeaway, transporting the product where it needs to go next for consolidation, packing, and shipping.
Exactly which variety of sorter makes the most sense to support your full case picking operation, and how it is leveraged, will of course depend on a number of factors, including the product being handled, but may include:
- Pop-up Wheel Sorter (also caller roller/belt sorters)
- Pivoting Arm Sorter
- Pusher Sorter
- Sliding Shoe Sorter
- Narrow Belt Sorter (NBS-30, NBS-90)
- Cross Belt Sorter
- Bombay Sorter
- Tilt Tray Sorter
5. Automated Labeling System
Supports: Inventory Routing, Storage, Shipping
In order to route product (cases, totes, orders) internally throughout a facility, that product must be labelled, typically with a barcode. Various automated systems (including virtually every technology on this list) will scan this label on each leg of the fulfillment process in order to identify the product and determine where it needs to go. Similarly, finished orders must be labelled for shipping.
Though they’re easy to overlook, labels play a critical role in the modern warehouse.
An automated print and apply labelling system is, as its name suggests, used to affix labels to product, as opposed to manual labelling. By removing human inefficiencies and human error, this can bring a number of benefits to your operation, including faster processing and increased accuracy.
Piecing It Together
If you leverage a full case picking system within your operation, it is possible to support that system with a wide array of technologies, mixed and matched to fit the unique needs of your business. A trusted systems integrator can help you conceptualize and implement the perfect solution for your challenges. Click here for a no-obligation consultation.