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Automation is Becoming the New Normal in India Warehousing

Sriram Bandal | 29 March 2022

The warehousing industry has grown in the last few years by becoming more intentionally planned, multifaceted and accessible. It’s a push towards automation.

This will progress further in the upcoming years, especially as companies look to meet customer’s fast fulfilment expectations and challenges like labour and real estate availability continue. The last few decades have shed a light on how products get to consumers, bringing increased attention to warehousing and distribution which has evolved the focus bringing substantial study and investment.

Conventional material handling equipment – forklifts, pallets and racks – combined with highly laborious jobs are commonly used today for inbound and outbound material handling processes. However, the software systems by which warehouses and inventory are managed are lightning-fast by comparison and significantly more efficient. This creates a need to align the two, introducing the notion of automation to complete material handling processes.

If we look at the India warehousing market scenario, in the pre-GST (Goods and Service Tax) era, small warehouses were commonly constructed by companies. However, in the post-GST implementation, small warehouses were consolidated into giant warehouse facilities. This consolidation allows for easier large-scale warehouse automation implementation and benefits to be more easily realized across the operations.

Recently, various market studies have indicated that India’s warehouse automation market will reach $512.2 million by 2026, compared to $86.2 million in 2020. These emerging trends give rise to new business opportunities that benefit various industries.

Changing Market Scenario for Automated Warehouse

Customers' expectations are increasing for fast and accurate product delivery, pushing companies to transform their warehouses. Additionally, the increased load on the warehouse due to the pandemic has encouraged distributors and logistics providers to adopt various automation technologies.

The key driver for warehouse automation is the ecommerce and retail industry boom, consumers moving away from brick-and-mortar shopping, various economic factors, customer real-time expectations and companies fiercely competing for faster deliveries.

The focus, however, isn’t just on speed. Accuracy is crucial. Supplying wrong or damaged products to online customers may result in product recall scenarios. Taking back an incorrectly supplied product in the warehouse has many critical and time-consuming processes that companies are trying to reduce with the implementation of supply chain intralogistics software that will trace the damaged product in the inventory database.

Increasing Demands for AVs & Robotics

To lessen the effects of labour shortages and fulfil the demands of the ecommerce and retail industry, solutions like AGVs (automatic guided vehicles), AMRs (autonomous mobile robots), automated forklifts, and robotic sortation and piece picking systems have emerged as promising solutions.

AGVs & AMRs can replace the work of a manual standard forklift, hydraulic pallet trucks, or conveyors used for moving the material from one station to another station. AVs (autonomous vehicle solutions) can work alongside employees and provide flexible solutions for any type of transportation to improve production efficiency.

 A robotic sortation system features independently moving robots that transport products from an induction station to a designated divert across a raised platform. This system is an excellent alternative to traditional sorters with faster implementation, lower capital cost, and the flexibility to add robots or induction stations.

AVs will help warehouses maintain productivity with smaller teams by helping to make the best use of limited workers. These solutions will eliminate the repetitive, unproductive job of heavy load movement and increase the throughput ratio in the warehouse. Over time the efficiency of the operator reduces where these autonomous vehicles can work 24 hours, 7 days a week with the same speed and efficiency.

AVs linked with robotics and vision systems can execute picking activities and convey picked items to the packaging zones. Mobile robots can help people stay farther apart by literally filling in the gaps: transferring goods throughout the facility, receiving, shelving, packaging and acting as go-betweens.

Automate Your Warehouse Today

One working in the warehousing industry knows there are often many repeated, error-prone tasks in a standard warehouse. Happening today, automation is replacing repeated tasks such as picking and putting away of materials and products. Through appropriate planning and strategic implementation, automation technologies like autonomous vehicles and robotics sortation and piece picking will improve employee engagement and morale by upgrading them from boring, monotonous jobs to interesting roles like maintenance, customer support and operational improvement.  

Reducing and even eliminating disruption is the main success of any automated system. Introducing automation in a warehouse is not a short-term investment. Selecting an optimum automation technology considering current and future demand must be thoroughly evaluated. Our experts will help you select the right technology for your business model.

Author: Sriram Bandal

Sriram is a Sales & Application Manager at Bastian Solutions India. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Pune University and brings 12 years of experience in product management, applications and sales experience in EOT (electric overhead traveling) cranes, forklift trucks and the material handling automation Industry.

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