Finding peace of mind picking the right warehouse automation

When it comes to warehouse automation, the market has a lot of suppliers and systems to choose from. So how can you be confident that you are making the best decision? In this blog, I would like to show you that we very much understand the challenges you face. I’ll also outline the support we can offer as you weigh the pros and cons of transitioning towards a partly or fully automated warehouse.

“I like to tell customers that this is not a commercial transaction – instead they are entering a marriage.”
Noel Blake
Senior Sales Manager, UK

There’s little doubt that buying warehouse automation is a big decision. Due to the wide-ranging impact of such a strategic choice, you do not want to make the wrong call and buy something that is not fit for purpose for the long term. It’s understandable that you want to mitigate risk as much as possible.

One of our priorities is to make you feel secure in your decision-making. So how do we do that, you may wonder? Initially, when we engage with you, we focus on getting a complete understanding of your business as it is now, and what it will need in the future.

Going with the flow

Firstly, we collect as much historical data as we can about your operation, and with your help we’ll also assess your future needs. We do a thorough job of analysing your existing warehousing activities. For example, we’ll examine process flows in great detail, looking at the number of operator touch points and the amount of time products take to move around the warehouse.

Our process flow diagrams count everything to the second. From these, we can work out on average – or for a peak day – how many people seconds it takes for an item to move into the warehouse and leave as an order. This means that we can accurately calculate the payback of an installed system.

In addition, we’ll run scenarios that can address a buyer’s concerns for the future, addressing questions like: “If our number of SKUs goes up by 50% in five years, will it make this system run slowly?” Scalability may be a bit of a buzzword in our industry, but it’s really important and why the answer to the above question is “no” – if you choose one of our systems.

Not one-size-fits-all

Many solutions on the market provide a one-size-fits-all approach to automation and can be described as “giant vending machines”. Such systems do not always use space efficiently, because of their fixed size, and you cannot change much once they’re installed.

This is not the case with Vanderlande’s automation options, which have been designed to grow with your business. For example, we can size our solutions to manage a five-year forecast that suggests a peak throughput of 3,500 totes/hour. However, you may wonder: “What happens when growth turns out to be 5,000 totes/hour?” Well, we can meet extra demand by installing new lifts or extra storage and retrieval shuttles. In essence, we can actually increase the performance of your systems at any time – while they remain operational.

The right pick every time

A good example of this flexibility is built into our goods-to-person order fulfilment system – FASTPICK, which comes with ADAPTO, our shuttle-based automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS). We can install this solution in your warehouse as wide and as deep as required – and up to 24 metres high. It can also handle a variable throughput of between 500 and 9,000 totes/hour.

Ergonomic workstations also come as standard and deliver multiple benefits. You can train anyone to use our stations in half an hour. Their user-friendly design can help you to broaden your pool of operators to include people who may have limited mobility or are less fit or physically capable. That’s a win for any business that’s having to deal with labour scarcity.

And with our workstations, it’s difficult to make a wrong pick: ADAPTO brings items from storage in perfect sequence, while operators follow clear instruction on a screen. Future-proofing also comes as standard as these stations can be equipped with a robot arm upon installation, or later as and when required.

It’s a “marriage” really

When buying automation from Vanderlande, I like to tell customers that this is not a commercial transaction – instead they are entering a marriage. Why? Because we’ll be with you every step of the way for many years to come to continuously improve your operations, and to provide maintenance and life-cycle services, if required. Whenever or wherever you need us, you can count on our continued support. Just say “I do”.

Like to know more?

Every company and every market is different. This is reflected in the layout of your warehouse – and the advice offered by our experts.