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Automatic warehouse

An automatic warehouse is a system with highly automated internal logistics processes. In these warehouses, the different systems used for storage and handling, both traditional as well as automatic and digital, are perfectly integrated with one another, working in harmony.

Modern automated warehouse management system.

What is the purpose of an automatic warehouse?

The main aim of an automatic warehouse is to accelerate the various operations, from arrival of goods through to distribution, with positive effects on productivity, service quality and workplace safety. In fact, automation means streamlining processes, reducing the risk of errors and maintaining greater control over all processes.

How does an automatic warehouse work?

An automatic warehouse is essentially made up of three elements:

  • shelving or the structures where goods are stored. Shelving is installed based on the layout requirements of the warehouse, with optimisation of available space
  • automated handling systems, which is the technological equipment enabling automation of warehouse flows and processes
  • warehouse management system (WMS) software.

For optimal warehouse management, it is essential that each of these three components are designed and created based on the requirements of the type of business and set-up of the warehouse, including its layout. Adopting customised solutions is certainly recommended for the best possible warehouse performance.

Benefits of an automatic warehouse

The benefits of an automatic warehouse can be summarised with the following list:

  • greater efficiency with optimisation of actions for receipt, storage, searching, picking, order processing, stock monitoring and all other warehouse operations
  • reduced chance of error, for both human errors and damage during handling
  • lower costs, with the initial investment quickly offset by a drastic reduction in service costs
  • optimisation of space thanks to use of systems capable of adapting to warehouse layout requirements
  • greater safety through standardised procedures and automatic warehousing systems
  • greater reactivity and flexibility as automatic warehouses are more adaptable to specific business requirements and respond better to any changes that occur
  • greater visibility of goods and products, making it easier to find items
  • improved inventory management, with real-time consultation of constantly monitored and tracked products and stock
  • constant production through a significant reduction in workflow slowing and stoppages.
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Types of automatic warehouses

According to the requirements of the specific warehouse, type of goods, storage methods and rotation, it is possible to identify four main types of automatic warehouses:

  • Vertical warehouse, equipped with cross-sliding drawers enabling removal of picking trays and subsequent storage of items
  • Miniload, which is ideal for handling light loads. This system can have a double or single-column configuration and features horizontal platforms divided by very narrow aisles along which the stacker crane travels. Miniload systems serve to take loading units stored on shelves and move them to the picking, packing or shipping area
  • Stacker-crane, which is used for handling pallets and heavy loads, combined with single shelving or multiple-depth shelving.
  • Shuttle, which features shuttles moving along the aisles between shelving to pick and transport goods towards a lift located at the end of the corridor, where they can be lowered to the picking station.

Whichever type of system you choose, the support of specialist technical personnel is essential in the warehouse for monitoring and planning of digital processes.

Software and automatic warehouses

An automatic warehouse functions exclusively through integration with management software, composed of:

  • control software, for programming of operations performed by the machines assigned to handle goods
  • warehouse management system (WMS) software that maps the warehouse and monitors the location of products, stock and inventory in real time.
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CLS iMation and automatic warehouses

For anyone needing customised warehousing solutions, designed for their specific requirements, CLS iMation is on hand, offering development of custom automatic systems for any type of business.

For further information or a consultation, contact our CLS iMation specialists by filling in the form below to find the best solution for your needs.

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