RightFIT Automation for Your Distribution Center
The RightFit Automation for your Distribution Center will address that there are many types of automation available, but every client’s business works differently. It’s in the clients best interests to have an Integrator lay out a design that will automate your business and create efficiency for maximum ROI and growth.
Free Guide: Top Order Fulfillment KPI Indicators
So often I meet with a client for the first time and the request is structured around equipment and a particular type of automated system that has sparked their interest. Usually this is far from what the operation actually requires. Not to suggest that a client doesn’t understand their needs, as they certainly understand it best, but it’s important to recognize that automation alone often represents only a portion of the overall solution, and needs to be the “RightFit“ level of automation.
We often work with clients that need to fulfill different types of orders through multiple channels to reach their end customers. Historically these various channels of distribution have required their orders be fulfilled from different inventory pools, often in different facilities. An opportunity is realized when we can help clients share a common inventory base across multiple channels. This is accomplished by consolidating operations and bringing goods under one roof which produces operational savings and minimizes redundant inventory carrying costs.
A system that supports many different order profiles in an efficient manner can require varying levels of technologies. Together this will be appropriate for all products and other order types. For example, your applications of technologies will vary depending upon the type of movement in your DC. If your distribution center requires that you fill orders that are discretely picked, individual pieces of SKUs selected into a case, versus many master cases or pallet quantities.
You would think that these orders would be picked and processed differently, right?
With many variables to take into consideration, balancing the work and leveraging the assets to see a reasonable return on investment, is not a simple task, yet attainable. We need to look at each of these order selection areas as subsystems that are part of the total distribution machine, with a common system back bone. This could easily justify a high level of automation for the master case orders such as a “Goods to Person” system. While the selection of full pallets could be automated, broken case orders could still be picked in a more manual mode. However, the same SKUs could be faced in each area allowing optimal selection of the total quantity that are required to make up those orders to be picked.
An Example From the Industry
From a Material Handling Equipment perspective, this could mean a high density order system for high volume full case order fulfillment and traditional multi-level pick modules for the discrete orders. The back bone of the system would blend and transport these orders to the outbound dock area where they would then be prepared for shipment, or another intermediate subsystem for value added services or packing. The art of this approach is the proper definition and integration of these subsystems and a seamless software layer to balance the overall system.
There are many intriguing types of automation out there. It’s important that you ask the question, “what is the best solution for how I ship my goods”, creating the desired return on investment, while maintaining key performance levels for your Distribution Center. This will often yield the correct blend of automation to help you find the RightFit Solution.