Warehouse automation


27th June, 2022

7 efficiency boosting technologies in warehouse automation

For manufacturers, wholesale and distribution companies, efficient supply chains require efficient warehouse management. Here are seven tech trends to watch.

With online sales of physical goods projected to reach over $500 million by 2024, it’s not surprising that warehouses are also set to grow.

But with the ever-increasing need to reduce costs, improve efficiency and meet growing customer demand for fast shipping, the businesses that thrive will be the ones that embrace warehouse automation.

What is warehouse automation?

Warehouse automation is the set of technologies used to drive much higher levels of productivity, safety and accuracy. They are designed to perform repetitive processes and tasks and eliminate manual data entry, supporting operational teams to do their work better, faster and safer.

A local, recent example of leading modern warehouse automation can be found in Amazon’s fulfilment centres, particularly with a first-of-its-kind build appearing in Sydney’s Oakdale West. The warehouse covers 200,000 square metres and features robotics throughout in a bid to improve efficiency. The company says the centre will be able to sort through 25,000 items an hour.

Top trends in warehouse management automation

Advancements in technology are paving the way for several trends in warehouse automation. Here’s a list of the top seven gaining popularity in 2022.

Collaborative robots

Collaborative robots, or ‘cobots’, are designed to work alongside humans and are a great way to relieve workers from hazardous, difficult or repetitive tasks. They’re an invaluable tool for improving the safety and quality of warehousing operations, can be easily programmed and integrated into existing infrastructure and are less expensive than industrial robots.

Warehouse management systems and software

A warehouse management system (WMS) provides important functionality such as real-time inventory tracking, accurate equipment location and coordination and automatic data capture.

Cloud-based systems offer more scale and flexibility, so reconfiguring to match a company’s changing size, complexity and market conditions is easier and less costly.

Automated storage and retrieval systems

An automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) is computer-controlled to effectively store and replenish loads from specific locations. It minimises the variable cost of operations by reducing manual labour tasks such as picking, storing, assembly and inventory replenishment.

This technology can also help monitor conditions in storage units and ensure security.

Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs)

Both AGVs and AMRs can help warehousing operations by optimising productivity, scheduling deliveries and giving employees time to focus on higher-level activities. But the flexibility and affordability of AMRs are winning with many future-focused companies.

AGVs cannot navigate around obstacles, while AMRs use data from cameras, sensors, laser scanners and software to find the best route with the least amount of disruption.

Radio-frequency identification

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a wireless technology that uses radio frequency fields to transfer data, making it easy to track and identify inventory in real-time – even when stock is hidden behind boxes or pallets.

When synced with the Internet of Things (IoT) and an ERP solution, the result is greater control over where inventory is in the supply chain.

Cloud-based operations

On-premise solutions require investment in hardware, physical space and an IT team to monitor and maintain them. Cloud-based solutions are managed by the software vendor and seamlessly integrate with existing applications, without using complex workarounds. This makes them a flexible, sustainable option for warehouse operations and streamlined workflows.

Predictive maintenance

With predictive maintenance software systems, companies can monitor equipment through data sensors and initiate proactive corrective measures to avoid complex problems and downtime.

Tips for successful implementation of warehouse automation tech

These trends in warehouse management automation can benefit companies with warehouse operations, but if a company plans to implement any warehouse automation, it must start with two important actions.

  • First, analyse and assess specific needs and workflows – automation is only beneficial if your business needs it
  • Second, get everyone on board before implementation – most importantly, the employees who will be using the automation. Without their buy-in, it may be an expensive and wasted investment

Keep pace by leveraging warehouse automation in your business

Supply chains have experienced massive shifts over the past year. To keep pace with the change and adapt quickly to future disruptions, warehouse teams and logistics companies need to leverage various warehouse automation technologies.

Those that take advantage of cloud-based platforms will be best poised for growth opportunities and any unexpected challenges that lay ahead.

MYOB Advanced Business is a flexible, scalable cloud platform with warehouse management features for wholesalers and retailers. Now, there’s also a Manufacturing Edition that adds applications for production, estimating, engineering and more. It’s a powerful way to build resilience and flexibility into your business in the new digital economy.

MYOB Advanced Business is a single cloud ERP platform designed for fast-scaling companies. Australian operators can find out more about it here, while NZ-based operators should click here.