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Semi-Automated Material Handling Solutions

3 min to readTechnology
In today's business world, it is more important than ever to find ways to increase efficiency and optimize processes. When it comes to material handling in warehouses and distribution centers, one way to achieve this goal is through the implementation of semi-automated solutions.
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This article will explore what semi-automated material handling is, what benefits it can offer businesses and some of the different types of implementations that are possible.

What is semi-automated material handling?

Semi-automated material handling refers to the use of machines or devices to assist in the movement of materials within a facility. This can include anything from conveyor belts and pallet jacks to robotics and automatic guided vehicles (AGVs). By using these machines, businesses can automate some of the tasks that are involved in material handling, which can lead to increased efficiency and productivity.

Semi-automated solutions have been proven to improve safety and reduce injuries. As the labor market continues to tighten, more organizations are investing in semi-automated material handling solutions. If you’ve identified any of these pain points or opportunities in your operations, there is a good chance some type of automation can help.

What are the benefits of semi-automated material handling?

There are a number of benefits that can be realized through the implementation of semi-automated material handling solutions. Some of these benefits include:

  • Reduced labor costs - By automating some of the tasks involved in material handling, businesses can reduce the number of employees that are needed to complete those tasks. This can lead to significant cost savings for businesses.
  • Increased throughput - When materials are handled more quickly and efficiently, it leads to increased throughput and a reduction in the amount of time that is needed to move goods through the facility.
  • Improved accuracy and consistency - Automated systems are often more accurate and consistent than manual processes, which can lead to improved quality and reduced errors.

Semi-Automated Material Handling Options

There are a number of different ways in which semi-automated systems can be implemented in a warehouse or distribution center. Each solution is built to address a certain need. Some of the most common implementations include:

  • Conveyor systems - Conveyor systems are one of the most common types of semi-automated material handling solutions. They can be used to move materials throughout the facility, as well as between different departments and areas. Conveyor systems increase throughput and production by removing unnecessary manual touches from the process. 
  • Pick to Light or Voice Picking - Pick to light systems use lights to indicate where an item needs to be picked, while voice picking systems provide employees with verbal instructions. Both of these solutions can lead to a significant reduction in errors.
  • Robotics - Robotics can be used to automate tasks such as picking and packing, which can lead to increased efficiency and accuracy. 
  • Deep Lane Storage/High-Density Storage - Also known as “Pallet Flow Racking” expands on single pallet storage and allows for multiple pallets to be stored in a single bay. Pallets or products typically ride on some type of automated cart or use gravity to flow forward. These allow warehouses to reduce the number of travel lanes and increase storage capacity. Deep lane storage systems that allow loading on one side and unloading on the other improve the rotation of stock by insuring First In First Out (FIFO). Following FIFO is Imperative for perishables. A deep lane storage solution is ideal for high volumes and low sku counts. 
  • Pallet jacks - Pallet jacks are a common way to move pallets of goods around the facility. They can be automated to reduce the amount of manual labor that is involved in this process.
  • Automatic guided vehicles - AGVs are a type of mobile robot that can be used to move materials around the facility. They are often used in conjunction with conveyor systems to optimize material handling processes.
  • Warehouse Execution Software (WES) -  WES is a software system that can be used to manage and optimize material handling processes within the warehouse. It can help businesses to improve throughput, accuracy, and consistency. WES systems are capable of integrating with a variety of different types of equipment and systems.

These are just a few of the different types of semi-automated material handling solutions that are available. The best solution for your business will depend on your specific needs and objectives. If you’re looking to improve efficiency, quality, recover floor space, and accuracy, semi-automation certainly has a solution for your material handling needs.

Conclusion

By understanding the benefits of automation and the different types of implementations that are possible, businesses become better equipped at making informed decisions about how to best optimize their material handling processes. Let LeasePlan guide you through the process of selecting the best semi-automated solution for your business. We offer a wide range of options and services to help you get the most out of your investment.

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Published at May 26, 2022

May 26, 2022
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