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Warehouse Automation

Dr Vijay Sangam, 17:48, 16 Feb 2012
Image via Wikipedia
Image via Wikipedia

Warehouse Management is a routine boring activity for some.  Same old, pick, pack and ship.  However, things are changing we are seeing lot of technology introduced in the Warehouse to make it more productive, efficient and happy place to work.

As we all know technology comes with a cost and also ushers in efficiency levels.  Warehouse Management is always fascinating subject for me; it provides lot of challenges and job satisfaction because of measurable performance.  Incidentally, I am responsible for 4 Distribution Centers managed by able professionals.  The common problem we face is known as miss-shipment (short, excess or wrong product dispatched).  We all know that only technology will help us to avoid such mishaps.  As you know miss-shipment results in disruption to operations, distribution costs go up and we end up with unhappy customers with inventory inconsistencies.

Initially, this problem was addressed by bar coding.  But what is bar coding?  Common, we all know about it.  However, here is the explanation.  “A barcode is an optical machine-readable representation of data, which shows data about the object to which it attaches.”   Beyond bar coding we are in era of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). “RFID tags, a technology once limited to tracking cattle, are tracking consumer products worldwide. Many manufacturers use the tags to track the location of each product they make from the time it’s made until it’s pulled off the shelf and tossed in a shopping cart.”

We took one step forward and introduced something called ASRS (automatic storage and retrieval system) to eliminate miss-shipments.   An Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS) is a combination of equipment and controls that handle; store and retrieve materials as needed with precision, accuracy and speed under a defined degree of automation.

I bumped into a interesting video in the areas of warehouse automation, thanks to my colleague Shaun.  Watching these videos and hoping that I could implement a warehouse with such a precision is no more fantasy.  It is only matter of time.

I thought I should reach out to larger audience through my blog.  Automation at its best and making warehousing function highly technical and very attractive, gone are those days when warehouse was known as dark, dusty and rundown place.

Enjoy the video!



  1. The little robots are an interesting concept but I’ve heard that there have been quite a few issues with them. I would imagine that it would be expensive to implement as well.

    Just out of curiosity (since you jumped from barcodes to robots), what are your thoughts on RFID?

    1. Thanks for your kind comments. All technological developments face initial hiccups. I am sure people behind this technology will improve the performance levels. I agree with you RFID is a very stable solution. Ideally, I should have discussed about this as well. I personally felt that it belongs to the family of bar coding. I agree it deserves mention.


  2. I am sure this kind of fully automation warehouse will come to real in sooner time. It just a matter of cost and intention to make it happen. It will be also very soon that pure labor will be replace by so many so called “SMART” technologies. So, we got to be smarter for our future in order to keep ourselves competitive enough then labor. so we are future brain labors.

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