Modern innovations and technologies have revolutionized the way a factory operates. Labor intensive manual processes have given way to automated ones with minimal or no human intervention. Computer controlled automation systems are part of each value addition area of the entire production chain, so are the various applications based software for managing them, resulting in higher production level at faster speeds with lower costs in a modern factory.
Warehouse or storage is one area of a factory where automation and technology have had relatively late and moderate entry. However, given the scope of applications and the projected value addition it can make in the entire production chain, there has been spurt in the use of automated systems and technologies.
Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) is one such essential part of a modern warehouse. Primarily, ASRS comprises of storage racks, storage and retrieval equipment and warehouse management system (WMS) that is a software application. Advancing from the conventional storage and retrieval equipment in a warehouse like AGVs, ASRS system is programmed to operate according to the load dimensions and speed of delivery for a particular load type. ASRS sends information related to the load movement to the Warehouse Management Systems which processes the data and guide automated warehouse control systems (WCS) that maneuver other warehouse equipment in tandem.
Conventional material handling systems involves manpower or small machinery to move and store the products in a warehouse using pallets which are stored using a single or double deep rack. This method is extremely tedious as it requires a large amount of data to be maintained manually about the location and the quantity of the products stored. A large investment in the resource is required to maintain the conventional material handling system; also it requires a large amount of time which leads to slow process chain in warehouse.
Advantages over conventional systems:
• Conventional forklifts and battery stackers offer increased resistance in capacity whereas ASRS offers the same working load at all the levels of storage system.
• ASRS systems are self maneuvered and hence requires no operator throughout the movement of equipment.
• Being the electrical equipment, no battery charging time or back-up batteries are required, hence ASRS offers uninterrupted availability.
• ASRS is capable of moving both standard and nonstandard loads in a uniformly-sized volume (container, pallet, etc.).
Factory owners are fast adopting ASRS for their warehouses. But, if you are setting up a new factory for your business, integrating ASRS in the warehouse can be actually a much beneficial and prudent decision, as you can reap benefits of cost effectiveness ease of integration better than retrofitting ASRS to an existing warehouse set up.
Benefits to the entire supply chain management in the new factory:
• ASRS requires small operating isle and are very dense system, minimizing floor space use and maximizing storage capacity and density.
• ASRS helps in cost reduction as it minimizes amount of unnecessary parts and products in an inventory
• ASRS reduces labor involvement in operations, thereby reducing the overall operational cost and increasing safety
• ASRS helps in modeling and managing the logical representation of the physical storage facilities
• It enables a seamless link to order processing and logistics management in order to pick, pack, and ship product in or out of the facility
• ASRS generates data about the movement of the loads (tracking where products are stocked, which suppliers they come from, and the length of time they are stored), to help companies in better inventory management.
• It enables the total production effectiveness in Raw Materials, Packaged Goods as well as Finished Products thus eliminating the chance of production failure.