In todays competitive world, in order to keep the consumers satisfied, manufacturers need sufficient warehousing and supply facilities they can rely on. Automated material handling systems are designed to help manufactures achieve short delivery times and provide accurate information to the customer. They are systems, which ensure that the levels of service are continually improved, and the customers stay confident with the support they deliver.
Turning tribulations into successful solutions
Automated material handling systems add value to operations. Whether a manufacturer is meeting customers demands through centralised or decentralized facilities, tailor-made and effective solutions can be created using a range of standardised sub-systems. Together, they enable a custom-solution that will be high on reliability, and low on costly maintenance and associated system downtime. A solution will also give the benefits of the lowest possible life cycle costs. Whatever the scope of operations, a solution can usually be found to suit it. The automation system would increase productivity, whilst making the most of valuable space. It would also have the built-in reliability to keep the manufacturer operational and profitable.
Value added automation
As data communication and logistical planning become more and more sophisticated, the trend in warehousing and distribution is towards more centralised operations. Using automated material handling systems, manufacturers can add to this higher productivity, a more cost-effective operation and also improve on lead times. Automation can improve the logistics flow and will streamline processes. By incorporating dedicated warehouse management systems and on-line inventory control, order picking and processing can be smoothly carried out, presenting goods exactly when and where theyre needed and increasing output without increasing costly manpower. Productivity can be further enhanced with functions like paperless picking - whether from batches, zones or goods to man. Activities can be well balanced by introducing work-in-process buffers that enable better machine utilisation, and a more controlled shipping process whilst maximising throughput. Effective automated solutions must be focused on the staff, should be user-friendly for operators, and involve the minimum of moving around. They must also be ready for tomorrow, by having the built-in flexibility for alternation or adaption to meet increased demands.
Large steps, miniature footprints
In any warehousing and distribution operation, theres one thing that always comes at a premium - space. And the optimum solution is the one that makes the most of what is available - even when space is severely limited. Increased space requirements however, need not mean more floor space is needed.
Its because systems can be created, which use space more effectively keeping the system footprint to a minimum. As operations expand or sub-distribution centres need combining into a centralised facility, this can be a key issue. Automated storage and retrieval systems make sure one can use available height for storage, rather than expand sideways. They also let manufacturers design their storage facilities with narrower aisles. Its the same with picking, where multi-level operations can be created, which increase the effective usable space in building. Whatever arrangements suit the operation best, systems and equipment can always be tailored to ensure the smallest possible footprint.
Flexibility to keep manufacturers responsive to change
Every company involved in warehousing and distribution, needs the ability to respond to change. Automated material handling solutions give the flexibility to keep manufacturers ahead - by giving them freedom to operate their logistics processes, handle differences and changes in the product mix and by ensuring that they always have the capacity to meet unexpected demands. For the logistics process, reduced throughput time means processing and planning times from actual order intake to supply can be cut, and unexpected orders can be handled without fuss. Buffer systems can be created enabling sub-assemblies to be stored, rather than finished products. This gives greater flexibility in responding to specific application requirements, resulting in a made to order type of service. The product mix is never uniform - sizes can vary and some products move faster than others. An automated material handling system can be tailored to all possible needs by varying the way the products are stored and picked. A product range is never constant either, with new items being constantly added and others deleted. Some will change from being fast movers to slow, and vice versa - either permanently or due to seasonal demand. Effectively managed, these changing patterns can result in storage and distribution costs being cut.
In any distribution centre, the pressure of working is always changing. To maintain a smooth operational flow, adjusting the speed of operations to suit the volume being handled can enhance system effectiveness. Parts of a system can be shut down and part time labour can be used to meet changing demands in busy periods. The operator friendliness of a system offers the added advantage that the need for special training is minimised, so a change in capacity can be smoothly and quickly made.
Automation that makes more of operations
The customers and a manufacturers own operational profitability, rely on material being handled smoothly and effectively - according to plan. With an automated material handling solution they are. Automated material handling solutions can be developed which are designed to keep operations optimized - today and tomorrow. By introducing automation facilities into the process, all products can be easily tracked and traced within the system. At the same time, errors can be reduced. Automation also means close inventory control can be maintained on the quality level and types of products, and information on arrival or overdue dates. By including these facilities in the software, reliability and availability of the whole operation is enhanced. Whats more, thanks to the automation concept and the use of advanced technologies, the actual handling process becomes more secure than even the most careful manual operation.
Delivering customer satisfaction
Because the customers depend on the manufacturers and the quality of service they provide, their operations must perform effectively and productively. This means they must be able to rely on the manufacturers material handling system. With an automated handling system they can. Thanks to the advanced automation technology, throughput times come down and inventory is more reliable and up-to-date.
The fast throughput times of automated solutions mean delivery times come down and customer service goes up. All of which means a growth in confidence and strengthening of the bond between the manufacturers and their customers.