Four ways robots can revitalise your peak season
The concept of “peak season” shifts around the calendar year for many different industries, but the most substantive one is between November and February. With Christmas’s influence and the January sales aftermath, B2C businesses and their supply chains are shifted into extreme overdrive – impacting the entire economy dramatically.
In moments like this, the advantages offered by flexible warehouse automation become clearer than ever. To see why, consider the following four ways robots can revitalise your peak season.
Maximise staff focus – Minimise errors
With a goods-to-person or materials handling solution, large volumes of warehouse staff effort can be effectively redirected. A properly implemented solution means there is no need for vast quantities of employees’ time to be spent walking between the stacks and shelves, locating and re-arranging items. Instead, the AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots) take all that work away, allowing employees to focus elsewhere.
Not only are there several other roles they could be re-trained to refocus on instead, but the roles they are already performing could also be completed with far greater accuracy. Manual errors of some kind are a fact of life, with estimates ranging between 3-0.3% for overall warehouse error rates.
Thus the fewer direct manual processes involved with picking and packing the better – another reason why one-touch fulfilment is a gold standard of contemporary warehouse design. This recognises how more errors are to be expected when staff are distracted and fatigued from near-constant walking.
Maximise possible acceleration – Minimise disruption
Peak season presents the perpetual challenge of the need to accelerate. Gears have to be shifted as demand rises and expectations change. But with only a manual warehouse your options in this arena are limited. Mostly**,** this revolves around hiring large volumes of new staff, but this incurs massive disruptive problems. Everything from new training to inaccuracy borne of inexperience, not to mention all the usual HR-related costs involved in general hiring processes.
With a flexible automation solution, your warehouse can have the maximum possible options for improved acceleration at peak season. Given the season’s usual predictability, your warehouse can arrange in advance to deploy more robots on a temporary basis, to ensure that all your picking, manufacturing, or materials handling processes continue operating at the speeds you need during peak season.
AMRs not only offer a minimal-disruption expansion of their workforce, it also takes the minimum possible effort to be able to adjust and expand their workspace as needs be. In the event that more space is added or different handling routes are required, the robots can be reprogrammed and new DM codes can be laid down. All avoiding the need for retraining and all the potential mistakes the same kinds of changes can cause in a fully manually operated warehouse.
Maximise throughput – Minimise extra training
Peak season for a manual warehouse would seem to present a similar problem to the deployment of new automation equipment. A lot of new training. You might think that new technology would mean new classes on how to use it best, what to do when it breaks down, and how to work around it securely and safely. The truth however is very different.
With a well-implemented flexible robotic automation system, the training time your staff needs is extremely minimal. With the AMRs handling so much of the movement and reorganisation of the storage systems themselves, staff will need to learn very little in the way of new techniques to perform the warehouse’s vital functions. Also, thanks to the sophisticated suite of sensor systems and safety measures built into every layer of the AMR’s operations, there will be a very limited need for extra health and safety instruction.
Instead, the new system will see your warehouse do exactly what it always needed to do at peak season. Operate much faster. With throughput levels no longer shackled to manual performance, warehouses using AMRs can see throughput levels accelerate by 400%. All with the minimal possible extra training.
Maximum efficiency – Minimum extra costs
For manual warehouses, peak season is both a time of high order volume and extreme expense. New staff are needed to keep pace with orders, return rates are often higher (both because of customer expectation and errors from inexperienced staff) and additional competition from all other parties in the field chasing the same customers pushes your business into the need of finding every last possible efficiency.
AMRs offer that efficiency at a fraction of the costs normally paid during peak season. There is no need for expensive extra staff. Increased focus brought about by removing walking time reduces overall error rates. Needs for new training and additional safety arrangements are removed. Everything can be done faster and better as peak season requires, without all the extra expense the season normally incurs.
To discover more about how all this is possible, come and see it for yourselves. Visit the Wise Robotics**’** demonstration centre, and see in person what is made possible by the robotics revolution.