Although there are a lot of people that would like to preserve a role for humanity in the warehouse, the truth is that working directly with forklifts and warehouse machines can be a dangerous job. So when Amazon designs a new age warehouse that has machines called ‘drivers’ that are automated and lower a number of workplace injuries, it actually can be looked upon as a step forward when it comes to creating a safer workplace.
Here are some ways that a ‘brave new world’ is being created in warehouses near you:
Amazon’s automated forklift driver
With Amazon having a fairly enlightened reputation anyway when people took a look at what actually happens around the automated pick machines that they are using on the factory floor they found that they do the heavy, dirty job. Humans continue to interface with the machines and coordinate the rest of the work. Conceptually speaking, they are saving their customers money. They are also saving money for the manufacturer who uses their service because they can store their goods and fulfill orders for less money than a typical warehouse can.
Of course, accidents do still happen. The difference is that when they do, no humans get hurt. Instead, via a tablet application, if there is an accident between automated drivers and merchandise, Amazon employees can take remote control and then manually move the drivers to complete the order.
Picklist automation software
Amazon is completely automated with their pickup at their warehouses. It may be more difficult for your firm to accomplish that degree of automation instantly. Instead, it may be more reasonable for you to look into software that pulls the picklist for an order from your database and reads it off to your forklift drivers so that they can be constantly utilized.
One feature of this type of software is that it allows you to prioritize how you fill orders. That way, your drivers won’t complain because it is obvious that they are somehow filling an order backward. In practice, most managers that are using this type of software use the opinions of their workers to create the best fulfillment environment possible.
Another area where Amazon excels in fulfillment is providing consistent service. What you will not find when you check out their warehouses is a lot of production gear. That is where some warehouses that work for clients that want to maintain a local presence can compete with Amazon and excel. If there are shipping or handling or packaging requirements that need to be met, some local warehouse companies are capable of putting checkweighers into play. A checkweigher is a machine that can weigh out your product perfectly. It then rejects products that do not meet the range of weights that it is assigned.
Another type of consistency equipment is the actual packaging equipment. In the food industry, there has been a veritable revolution, with envelopes and cardboard replacing glass and aluminum cans. The net result is food that is lighter to ship and easier for consumers to work with. Another benefit for the manufacturers is the notion that the latest packaging machines are also replete with sensors that help to show whether or not there are safety problems as food is processed.
The warehouse of the 21st century really is a brave, new world in many ways. There is a lot more automation and the sharpest minds in the business are focused on automation systems even more. The nice thing about it is that rather than eliminate the human workforce, the companies involved have given them roles that give them more power than they had before- saving those companies time and money.