Today it’s all about stretching your buck and making every little investment count. Not just in the warehouse or distribution center or manufacturing industry but just about in every business imaginable. Getting a great ROI is the prize at the end of every investment meeting and strategic planning sit-down. ASRS warehouse automation platforms are one of the most powerful, popular, and impactful investment options at present to really boost up your supply chain and give you a sharper edge when it comes to the competition. In this article, we’re going to give you a clear idea of what ASRS warehouse systems are, how they work and how they can ultimately help you out.
What is an ASRS warehouse system?
ASRS or Automated Storage & Retrieval System in a warehouse basically consists of a series of automated, computer-controlled tools that place and retrieve loads from or to a specific location.
These types of systems have become somewhat of a standard in certain warehouses and industries. Why? Because of their many benefits. The primary one is that they are fast and can help you work around the clock, 7 days a week.
ASRS warehouse automation is typically used in:
- Industries with very high volume loads that are costly are being moved into or out of storage.
- Warehouses where storage density and space constraints are an issue.
- Industries, where there is no extra value added to the storage process — in other words where no processing, shipping, labeling, etc, takes place. Industries whose only real task is storage and transpiration to other warehouses.
- Industries where accuracy is critical — ASRS warehouse systems help protect, due to their precision and reliability, fragile loads. They are incredibly accommodating to industries where potential damages to stocks could end up being bank-breaking expensive.
ASRS warehouse systems first originated in the early 1960s. They initially focused on heavy pallet loads. Back then, they were incredibly expensive and were mainly used in the automotive industry and the aeronautical industry. They were cumbersome and a shadow of what they would ultimately become.
As commerce evolved, mainly spearheaded by the food industry that required automated systems that could handle smaller and more precise loads, these systems began to evolve. Today, they are at peak efficiency and, due to the onslaught of tech advances and how they constantly change the landscape, are in a continual state of metamorphosis, bettering themselves and adapting rapidly to tomorrow’s growing demands.
Types of ASRS warehouse systems
There are many types of ASRS warehouse automation systems. They are continually evolving and incorporating AI tech as well as drone tech, nevertheless, the most common ones are:
- Vertical Lift Storage Modules (VLSM).
- Unit load stackers.
- ASRS Gantry Robots (drones).
- Micro-load (stockers).
- Mini-load ASRS cranes.
The Advantages of an ASRS warehouse system
You’re probably asking yourself, “why should I invest in an ASRS warehouse?” Yes, they are now a fraction of the cost of what they used to be back in the heydays when they first broke out, but they still represent a huge investment. Service providers have normally shied away from intensive investments — particularly one on such a large scale. This is the norm. Well, in the past it made a certain sense. These types of systems took a lot of time to regain their investment and start making a profit. Today, that is no longer the case.
Costs have gone down and delivery time-frames have sped up. Customers, clients, and your contracts now demand faster deliveries and more effective logistics. Whoever can provide them that, whether it’s you or your competition, will win out in the long run and land the bigger and juicier accounts.
That’s the main benefit right there. These systems can help you grow your business.
Other key benefits of ASRS warehouse systems are:
Helps keep track of inventory
These systems are automatic, they do most of the job for you - to the point where your employees are simply there to assist and maintain the machines, not to interfere in their operation. This means that they also catalog and tally everything. You can keep track of every item within your warehouse and know at the drop of a hat where it is located.
Helps solve problems
One of the main advantages of having an ASRS warehouse system properly installed is that it optimizes your business and helps erase problems you might have been having. Not only that, in many cases, 3 out of 5, these types of systems patch up problems you didn’t even know you had — issues that had been making you less effective and were making you bleed cash.
Since employees are now caretakers, they are less liable to be injured. This reduces work-related injuries and makes your warehouse that much more safer.
Now, you can work in your warehouse, with a skeleton crew. These sort of systems make certain employees and staff members obsolete — allowing you to direct them or position them in departments that could use their help. To better direct your staff and take advantage of their skills. ASRS warehouse systems also allow you to operate 24/7 cost-effectively.
Better use of space
By employing ASRS systems you can maximize the use of space. These types of systems exploit every nook and cranny of your warehouse and take advantage of vertical storage space.
ASRS warehouse systems — how much do they cost?
There are many factors to consider when estimating the cost of an ASRS warehouse system. Factors like the height of your facility, the type of environment, the size and quality of loads to be handled, as well as the systems you already have in place. ASRS are complex and there is no singular, one-size-fits-all solution to them. A small miscalculation could end up costing you thousands of dollars — either in retrofitting the system or because you were sold something you ultimately didn’t need. We would highly encourage people interested in ASRS warehouse automation to contact a credited supply-chain consultant and get their valuable input.