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Is It Time for Warehouse Automation? Identifying the Need

Harish Kulkarni | 24 August 2023

Are you considering refining your warehouse operations and improving customer satisfaction? One of the transformative solutions that has gained significant traction in recent years is automating warehouses by integrating material and product processes through material handling equipment. By introducing and integrating robots, conveyor systems with intralogistics solutions, companies can revolutionize the way warehouses can run. However, the question remains – how do you know when warehouse automation is needed?

The Changing Landscape of Warehousing

Traditionally, warehouses have operated under manual management, relying on human operators to execute essential tasks such as item selection, packaging, sorting and inventory oversight. Basic tools like hand pallets and jacks were the norm for moving and transporting products within these facilities. Although this approach has proven effective over time, particularly in terms of cost reduction, the emergence of ecommerce, rising customer expectations for rapid deliveries and the necessity for meticulous inventory control have steered in new complexities that a solely manual approach may struggle to handle.

In the contemporary landscape, it has become paramount for companies across various sectors, including third-party logistics, automotive, healthcare, retail and ecommerce, to embrace process automation. This transition ensures streamlined workflows, increase efficiency and, ultimately, a more substantial return on investment.

Identifying the Need for Automation

In the intricate landscape of modern business, companies grapple with a multitude of challenges within their warehouse operations, often oblivious to their existence. It is important to understand that to overcome these obstacles is possible with the recognition of their presence, followed by a comprehensive understanding of how each challenge can be effectively addressed through the implementation of automation solutions.

  • Fluctuating Demand: Businesses that experience seasonal fluctuations or sudden rise in demand can receive help from warehouse automation. Automated systems can manage varying workloads more efficiently, ensuring that orders are fulfilled accurately and promptly even during peak times.
  • High Error Rates: Human errors are inevitable in manual operations in warehouses, leading to order inaccuracies, shipping mistakes and inventory discrepancies. Automation introduces precision and consistency, significantly reducing the chances of errors and enhancing customer satisfaction.
  • Inventory Management Challenges: Keeping right inventory quantities is vital for minimizing stockouts and overstock situations in the warehouses. Warehouse automation systems equipped with real-time tracking and inventory control capabilities can help to track stock levels and enhance demand forecasting accuracy.
  • Order Fulfillment Speed: The demand for faster order fulfillment has become a norm in the e-commerce era. Automated systems, such as robotic pickers and conveyor belts, can expedite order processing, reducing the time it takes for products to reach customers.
  • Safety Concerns: In environments where heavy lifting or repetitive tasks are involved, worker safety is paramount. By automating these tasks, businesses can create a safer work environment and reduce the risk of workplace injuries.
  • Space Optimization: Warehouses often deal with space constraints, and automation can help maximize storage and operational efficiency. Vertical storage systems, automated racking, and goods-to-person technologies can optimize space utilization.

Apart from the above points rising labor costs, wherein a substantial budget allocation is directed towards manual workforce, the consideration of automation emerges as imperative.

Embracing automated systems can alleviate dependence on human labor, thereby releasing resources for other mission-critical domains. Additionally, as businesses expand, the challenge of accommodating augmented workloads through manual operations underscores the necessity of warehouse automation, ensuring efficient scalability. Moreover, the incorporation of automation not only furnishes data-driven insights via its data collection and analysis capabilities, facilitating the identification of bottlenecks and workflow optimization, but also positions enterprises favourably within competitive landscapes, as rivals increasingly adopt automation for heightened agility and responsiveness to evolving market dynamics.

Automate Your Warehouse Process

As technology continues to reform the world of business, warehouse automation presents an opportunity for companies to enhance productivity, reduce errors and improve overall performance. Recognizing the signs that automation is needed requires a thorough assessment of operational challenges and growth aspirations. By using automation strategically, businesses can create a more agile, responsive and customer-centric supply chain to thrive for success in the competitive market landscape.

Author: Harish Kulkarni

Harish is a Sales and Application Manager for Bastian Solutions’ India office. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering (B.E) and holds a Master’s in Technology (M.Tech). He has more than five years’ experience in industrial and logistics automation and possess a deep knowledge of conveyor systems, sortation solutions, goods to person technologies and automated storage and retrieval systems.


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