Finally, as a single crane serves many replenishment positions, long, tunnel-like aisles would interrupt a crane's "working zone," requiring more capital investment in cranes. For manual picking, this results in a decrease in productivity as pickers have to travel the complete aisle. Balancing productivity and cost can quickly become quite intricate.
This brief article is intended to introduce the main concepts to consider for warehouse automation. While the common idiom is that technological advances bring cost savings and improved operations, AS/RS systems have not seen wide adoption due to their many disadvantages. Only a thorough operations audit, along with a strategic view of the business environment, combined with careful financial analysis can reveal whether it's a judicious choice, as well as provide recommendations on the kind of automation needed. Many shy away leaving money on the table, while others realize a mistake too late. Whatever you are leaning toward, don't do it alone.
About the Author: Ramez Rafla is an Operations consultant at KOM International (www.komintl.com), which focuses its expertise on supply chain strategy, distribution center design and layout, improving existing distribution operations, supply chain technology solution selection and implementation, and warehouse and transportation management consulting.