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More Orders, Less Time With Enhanced AS/RS

More Orders, Less Time With Enhanced AS/RS

More Orders, Less Time With Enhanced AS/RS

Modern distribution and fulfillment (D&F) operations are adopting automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) shuttles to address a variety of e-commerce challenges — labor costs and shortages, maximizing the utilization of existing facilities to avoid expansion costs, and boosting throughput. While the impacts of AS/RS are immediate, many operations lack the tools to effectively manage its complexities or maximize its benefits. 

Our recent On The Move webinar explored how effective AS/RS strategies give smart distribution centers (DCs) an e-commerce edge by precisely orchestrating storage and retrieval (S/R) activities, increasing their utilization, responsiveness, throughput and integration with goods-to-person (GTP) systems.

Why AS/RS?AS/RS shuttles address some of the most critical market factors facing modern D&F operations, which are summarized below:

  • People — labor shortages and rising wages
  • Products — exponential SKU proliferation, with more shapes and sizes
  • Planning — shrinking delivery times and high order volumes
  • Places — rising warehouse costs and increasing construction costs

AS/RS shuttles provide practical answers to all these concerns. GTP stations enable more efficient use of scarce labor resources while improving productivity, efficiency and accuracy. Optimized storage allows products to be handled more efficiently, taking up less space while minimizing storage footprints.

In addition, AS/RS shuttles enable much higher throughput for orders but are particularly efficient for smaller orders containing a single item or just a few. This enhances your ability to meet increasingly demanding order fulfillment requirements with shorter cycle times.

Another benefit is that AS/RS shuttles maximize the utilization of existing facilities. They do this by enabling you to take advantage of more vertical space and other areas that might otherwise be wasted. In addition to minimizing labor and initial construction costs, these strategies can delay costly expansions — or even allow you to avoid them altogether.

System Orchestration Is Critical to AS/RS Efficiency

Even though AS/RS can deliver significant benefits from day one, it’s essential to have the right tools to effectively manage their complexities. Precise coordination and system orchestration are critical because every function, action or decision of every shuttle has the potential to impact other parts of the system. This could potentially create unintended consequences such as: imbalanced workloads, unnecessary bottlenecks and congestion, low system utilization or efficiencies, and missed customer service level agreements (SLAs).

 AS/RS shuttles must be managed intelligently, otherwise the entire system will run at a reduced throughput rate. For example, if a specific SKU is stored only in one location, that aisle or level can quickly become a bottleneck if multiple shuttles converge on it to retrieve items for several orders at the same time.

Getting the Most From AS/RS

Many DCs still rely on traditional allocation strategies to keep pace with increasing demands, such as first in/first out (FIFO), first expired/first out, picking clean, and minimizing touches. While these techniques can offer some relief, they’re not sufficient to handle today’s challenges on their own.

Honeywell Intelligrated’s warehouse execution system (WES) software, Momentum WES, provides a significantly more efficient answer. This innovative software suite leverages a powerful data science engine called Decision Intelligence that’s engineered to address modern fulfillment complexities, deliver performance improvements, and coordinate activities among all of a DC’s automated systems and resources. 

Designed to leverage advanced data science techniques — such as machine-learning (ML) algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) — Momentum WES software can make intelligent S/R decisions that optimize AS/RS to meet your throughput and system responsiveness goals. Its ML algorithms and AI techniques give you an intelligent set of tools for maximizing the effectiveness of AS/RS shuttle and GTP station processes.

WES software improves AS/RS optimization by:

  • Boosting throughput
  • Increasing storage density
  • Prioritizing customer SLAs
  • Reducing congestion
  • Smart inventory replenishment

Where to Learn More

If you weren’t able to view the live presentation of this webinar, you can still catch a recording online. “More Orders, Less Time With Enhanced AS/RS” is also the first of a three-part On The Move webinar series titled Delivering the E-commerce Edge, featuring innovative solutions that industry leaders are already adopting to stay nimble, profitable and competitive. Watch for details of the other two sessions in upcoming blog posts.

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