Our very own Bryan Jensen was recently quoted in a Modern Materials Handling article about the goals and challenges of completely automating a distribution center. He discussed how, even though people are hungrier than ever for automation, unique inventory is still very much a problem that needs to be solved. Use the link below to read the article!
At the same time, people have increasingly become more receptive to automation in their facilities. Just as important, payback periods have generally been pushed out to five years, says Bryan Jensen, chairman and executive vice president at St. Onge Co. Beyond a longer-term ROI, many companies, says Jensen, have developed a bigger “budget appetite” as they see 80% lights out as an achievable goal.
But the wild card in lights out is the inventory itself. As Jensen says, “not everyone handles only CD jewel boxes.”
Instead, inventory comes in a range of sizes, shapes and weights from incoming pallet loads to cases, and, yes, individual items such as CD jewel boxes. And while pallets and cases are often a consistent size, shape and weight, there’s generally a range of all three characteristics for individual items in a DC at any time. Furthermore, the rapid shift in products in so many industries means the SKUs themselves are in a constant churn.
That general consistency of pallets and cases means that equipment/software/processes for handling those is the sweet spot for lights out today. “Moving boxes is the easy part,” says Jensen. So much so that if you’re going to find lights out in a DC today it’s probably going to be from receiving to automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) all the way to the front edge of order picking.
Click here to read the article on the MMH website!