Warehouse Automation to Optimization
Warehouse automation vendors are placing increased emphasis on the ability of their software solutions to take warehouse performance to the next level. For example, the term warehouse execution system (WES) is being used to describe the next generation, more advanced warehouse control systems (WCS) that coordinate disparate warehouse systems while also dynamically routing work based on priorities and availability. Intelligrated’s WCSPlus is an example of such a solution. It uses a points-based system to make real-time adjustments to workflow based on the status of orders, inventory, and throughput capabilities. Dematic has also been focusing on software improvements. In fact, it dedicated half of its floor space at ProMat to exhibit the company’s software capabilities and the performance improvements it can deliver.
At the same time, supply chain software vendors have been delivering incremental performance improvements by integrating WMS with other execution solutions and/or integrating WMS with planning applications to break down operational silos. ORTEC has developed a warehouse solution that contains elements from both of these larger improvement trends. The company’s novel warehouse control and optimization solution applies “planning-type” algorithms to warehouse execution processes to optimize the movement, storage, and sequencing of pallets in the warehouse.
ORTEC’s Warehouse Control & Optimization
ORTEC’s optimization software, implemented with partners, was originally applied to a frozen goods warehouse in the UK a few years ago. More recently it was adopted by two global consumer goods companies. The solution combines warehouse automation (AS/RS) with optimization to enable high-throughput, improved storage efficiency, and optimal sequencing for efficient outbound truck loading and delivery. Goods received in the warehouse are entered into the system and properly sorted and sequenced in the warehouse for optimal outbound movements. In one consumer goods warehouse, the ORTEC solution was used to increase shipping from 10 to 15 trucks per day without a requirement for staging due to the optimized sequencing. In a more recent case study, the solution is being used to manage a buffering platform for outbound delivery. In this set-up, an automated buffer zone was established in a large warehouse. The solution operates in the buffer zone, sequencing and sorting the pallets, leading to higher throughput, improved truck loading, and reduced outbound drive times.
The lines between planning, optimization, and execution is becoming blurred in the warehouse. The use of software intelligence in the warehouse can deliver performance improvements through real-time visibility and adaptation or through the combination of automation and optimization used in more traditional batch sequencing. ORTEC’s warehouse control and optimization solution can be applied in the warehouse to optimize time dependent processes, resulting in performance improvements in warehouse operations as well as in the subsequent outbound delivery routes.