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Revolutionising your WMS with next-gen automation

Article by Megan Gee

Taking your WMS to the next level | Your questions answered

When warehouse and logistic managers start their automation journeys, many express a gut feeling that their WMS alone can’t achieve what their business strives to be. Whilst inventory tracking, HHTs, and batch picking have seen warehouses through the early days of ecommerce, there’s no question that the next 5 years will require technology that’s smarter, faster, and able to adapt to changing markets.

Whatever your industry, the challenges are the same:

– Labour shortages
– Employees expect more
– Consumers demand more
– Warehouse space is scarce
– Evolving distribution models

With global competition fiercer than ever, being tied to linear and disjointed ways of working has no place in viable and long-term strategies for growth. The future of warehousing requires flexible and reliable technology to manage where we are now, and what’s to come.

The trouble is, above all the challenges discussed, one of the biggest setbacks almost 80% of warehouse-utilising businesses still face – is making the transition to automation in the first place.

According to research conducted in March 2022, 80% of warehouse facilities still lack any type of automation. And as for the pursuit of making change? There’s still a long way to go, with only 21% businesses looking to use warehouse automation in the next 3 years.

“What best describes your organization’s use of automation systems and/or AMRs in your warehouses, distribution centres, and/or manufacturing operations?”

graph - what best describes your organization’s use of automation systems and/or AMRs in your warehouses, distribution centres, and/or manufacturing operation

But how to get there? Let’s address those all-important questions…

”Will we have to replace our existing software?”

WMS and ERP integration

Sometimes it’s hard to achieve big goals without making big changes. Bigger still, is trying to find technology that’s able to maximise what already exists, instead of removing or replacing it. With Wise Robotics’ warehouse automation, your business is provided automated solutions without compromising the systems you already have in place.

Our technology and automation are here to accelerate your operations, not change them.

We harness the untapped power of what already exists, build a software integration system you’re comfortable using and turn your existing data into a powerful tool to drive next-level automation and integrate your business with robots, automated doors, elevators and more.

“What happens to my warehouse employees?”

Workers in goods-to-person environments

Ultimately, warehouse automation allows your employees to focus on getting orders out the door. From the moment an operative arrives at their station, the process is simple:

In a typical goods-to-person scenario with the use of robotic hardware, operatives would be working from a tailored workstation system – a screen that presents what needs to be picked and at what quantity.

If it hasn’t already, the robot will arrive with the relevant rack, and with the support of picking lights, operatives will see immediately the area of the rack containing their items.

Items are taken, scanned, and potentially moved along to another robot or tote depending on the stage of the process. This is the same for sorting, packing and shipping. You can find out more about that process here.

As well as benefitting from an easy-to-use system, walking time is virtually eliminated, a significant improvement from the miles workers can typically spend walking round the warehouse every shift. According to our own research – that time spent navigating between bins can account to nearly 70% of a picker’s day. Time you reclaim instantly with robotic automation.

“Is it expensive?”

The cost of warehouse automation

In the instance of integrating your WMS with robotic hardware, the cost of both automated guided vehicles (AGVs) or autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) is roughly the same, with a complete return on investment usually achieved within a 12–24-month period.

Once the initial implementation is covered, the price of a robotic solution is in most cases cheaper than employing and training numerous extra employees to complete the same work – particularly during your peak times.

“What control do I have over the technology?”

Data & workflows

When it comes to configuring warehouse automation to suit your needs – the power really is in your hands. With the right data, over a thousand rules and workflows can be created to instruct your third party integrations to work exactly how you need them to. For example, sales orders can trigger robots to collect specific racks in your warehouse. Manufacturing requests can automatically mobilise automated production lines, and robots such as AMRs can jump into action as soon as an instruction is received.

Similarly, rules can be defined for how your chosen automation interacts with different types of SKUs, physical stations or even individual users.

Leveling up your WMS operation

As distribution models evolve and customer expectations rise, the need for smarter and more flexible technology becomes increasingly important. Faster picking, packaging, despatching, shipping and returns all play a part in that. Warehouse automation provides a clear business case for accelerating operations, all whilst lower costs, improving efficiency and keeping your ERP and WMS software in place.


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