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500% pick rate rise – How flexible robotic boosts cross-docking

Article by Megan Gee
flexible warehouse robot hikrobot wise robotics

You might think that the claim of a 500% increase in pick rates is only suited to very niche and specific warehouse situations. Maybe you imagine this works best in an ecommerce environment or another more immediately customer-facing storage situation. However, the reality is that flexible automation is a robotic revolution. It offers a means to overturn many different entrenched operational styles found in the logistics, storage, and manufacturing sectors. One sector of the market that industry 4.0 can really shake up is the practice of cross-docking.

What is cross-docking?

Cross-docking is an attempt to cut out the middle man of a warehouse storage process as much as possible. It is the logistics practice of minimising storage time by moving goods directly from incoming deliveries to outgoing despatch. There are several different reasons to work this way, such as changing the means of conveyance, re-sorting materials heading to different destinations, or merging loads into vehicles/containers with similar arrival points.

The value of this process for certain types of companies becomes obvious very quickly. With warehouse space at an extreme and ever-increasing premium, it allows businesses to bulk-order goods, use the vehicles they arrive in as an extension of the warehouse space, quickly sort orders on the fly, and have them sent through to despatch extremely rapidly. This most often works best in a B2B environment, but can also be applied to B2C also.

Whatever the scenario flexible robotics makes cross-docking work far better and far faster than the alternative.

Consistent performance

The ideal solution model, when provided to a cross-docking situation, would be a form of A-to-B arrangement. One of the key advantages of using robots as opposed to manual operators in this scenario is consistent speed.

Regardless of how long the shift, how many loads have been moved, or the time of day, you can rely on an automated cross-docking system to always operate at the same speed and in the same way. This is more crucial for cross-docking because, unlike a static warehouse, delivery vehicles need to move and stay on schedule. A business that can precisely predict how long unloading, sorting, and re-loading will take, is a business better positioned to keep its operations fast and fleet-footed, especially compared to its competitors.

Consistent performance is crucial for cross-docking, which is exactly what Wise Robotics can offer.

Accurate delivery

Cross-docking is a method of logistics that is even more reliant on accuracy and precision than warehousing. This is because the products are kept in a single space for such a short period of time. From arrival to out the door can take place in a matter of minutes. There is both little time for delay and scant room for error. This is why flexible automation is an even better fit.

With a manually operated cross-docking situation, you are expecting operatives to stay fully focused on the details of documentation and the minutiae of measurements, while at the same time keep a rapid pace of back and forth between arrivals and despatch, while simultaneously staying on top of all the health and safety rules such constant movement involves.

In short, you are expecting high performance in several specific fields from employees that have been hired for general purpose work. This is naturally a recipe for ongoing operational errors.

With flexible automation, the single biggest fatigue-inducing task is taken out of the manual operator’s hands. Now that they no longer need to constantly move back and forth, they are able to focus on making sure the right products are going into the right vehicles at every stage. Fewer distractions mean fewer mistakes, which in turn means fewer problems for your business.

When it comes to cross-docking, precision is a pre-eminent concern. This is exactly what Wise Robotics provides.

Improved speed

With flexible robotics, it isn’t just that the operations are more consistent, and the accuracy becomes higher. It’s that the processes used in every movement of goods become dramatically faster.

Our range of automated forklifts and flexible robots can move at speeds of between 1.2-2 metres per second, depending on load. This ensures your vehicles can be back on the road quickly, meaning your cross-loading operation can get to the despatch stage more rapidly, meaning more orders can be processed and more customers can get what they wanted faster.

The knock-on effects here are clear. Faster processing means more order capacity, which means more potential for growth, and a better reputation with customers. Combined with consistent performance and accurate delivery, it is clear why flexible robotics is an amazing boon for cross-picking businesses. Wise Robotics is ready to offer you and your business the next step towards operational expediency and ongoing prosperity.

Flexible operations

Cross-docking, as an operational model, offers lots of room for expansion. Because it needs far less space than a traditional warehouse, it is much less expensive to buy more vehicles and expand to encompass more goods-in and despatch locations. However, if you were to expand your cross-docking operations while still using manual workers, or even fixed automation, the costs would be enormous.

Expanded cross-docking with manual workers would mean more of all the problems associated therein. More errors. More inconsistency in performance. More slowdowns due to fatigue. Most crucially of all – more cost. Larger workforces will be unsustainable during peak periods, meaning you will have to hire temporary staff. While a cross-docking system might face this problem to a smaller degree than a normal warehouse, the end result is the same. HR headaches, ballooning salary bills, and endless training time lag.

Fixed automation would seem like an optimal solution, but the delays involved would be dramatic. Infrastructural implementation won’t take as long as in warehouses using non-cross docking techniques, but it will still be a matter of months. Months where your cross-docking hub stations are out of action, and months that will leave you with an automation operation that cannot be expanded, adjusted, or otherwise changed in any way, without an even longer period of inactivity.

If you want a business with both the potential to grow and the physical capacity to do so, flexible automation is the way forward. To find out more about that, come and see Wise Robotics.

Cross-docking’s future is flexible

Discover why 500% pick rate increases aren’t just possible, but probable. Learn more about what the future of cross-docking operations can look like by meeting Wise Robotics. Book a demonstration and come and see us in person at Europe’s first flexible robotics demonstration centre. See the full scope of the reasons why we say that the robotics revolution isn’t coming, it’s already here.

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