In today’s world, people want their goods immediately, and ordering online has become the norm.
This strong demand has catapulted the e-commerce market, which is projected to grow 37.1% from now through 2026. Pair this demand with the U.S. labor shortage, and it’s become more important than ever for warehouse manufacturers to meet consumer demands and stay ahead of the growing competition.
This is where automated material handling comes in.
While only 28% of leading supply chain companies have adopted warehouse automation in their processes as of today, that number is expected to reach 79% by 2027—and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) are leading the way.
Below, we detail the evolution of these systems, common use cases, and the top benefits of integrating them into your operations.
The Evolution of AS/RS
AS/RS are computer-controlled systems that quickly, precisely, and automatically place and retrieve loads in warehouses.
The first AS/RS were created in the 1960s. These systems were initially used for heavy pallet loads, but technological advancements have revolutionized them to select, pick up, and transport items as small as frozen food products.
Different types of AS/RS can include unit-load AS/RS, mini-load AS/RS, vertical lift modules, shuttles, horizontal and vertical carousels, and cube-based storage. Each is used to perform specific, repetitive tasks, including storing loads of various weights, picking and retrieving, transporting, and more.
While advancements in these systems have made them more affordable, their overall design can play a critical role in their shelf life and overall performance. Components like custom-engineered steel roll form parts can ensure your AS/RS are the highest in quality and strength, lowest in production costs, and optimized for your specific applications.
Common AS/RS Use Cases
AS/RS can be used in a variety of ways throughout a warehouse. Some common applications include:
- Picking: Depending on a system’s level of machine intelligence, it can correctly pick items that need to be delivered to a warehouse worker or taken to a storage space.
- Retrieving: They can retrieve and deliver specific products to pickers, warehouse workers, or assembly lines. For warehouse workers, this helps them save time in walking through large warehouses to find specific products.
- Storing: AS/RS can safely transport items to storage so they can later be used in assembly lines, for production, or when demand increases.
- Grouping: These systems can transport select components to a specific location, where they can be assembled.
Benefits of AS/RS
While the upfront cost of an AS/RS may seem daunting, users can reap several benefits in the long run. They include:
1. Improved productivity.
AS/RS quickly perform redundant tasks, enabling employees to focus on high-level tasks that automated technology cannot handle. This can result in up to an 85% increase in labor productivity.
2. Quality products and consistency.
AS/RS eliminate product defects or breaks that could be caused by human error. They are programmed to consistently perform, ensuring all products are transferred and delivered in the same, quality condition. In fact, by using AS/RS, accuracy levels can increase up to 99.99%.
3. Reduced costs and increased profitability.
Once you make the initial investment in AS/RS, they help reduce labor costs, as well as maintenance costs that can incur as a result of improper equipment use. They can also transport goods at a quicker pace, thus increasing profitability.
4. Enhanced safety.
AS/RS reduce the need for humans on the production floor, which helps enhance safety.
5. Improved efficiencies to support online ordering and e-commerce fulfillment.
6. Real-time inventory tracking.
Many AS/RS have warehouse management systems that keep track of inventory in real time, which helps with product traceability.
7. Optimized space.
AS/RS can help save up to 85% of otherwise wasted floor space, freeing that space for other production processes or eliminating the need for the extra space altogether.
When integrated correctly and built with the highest-quality roll form parts, AS/RS have the ability to offer unparalleled advantages that can optimize your performance and improve your overall profitability.
Get Custom, American-Made Parts for Your AS/RS
Hynes leverages more than 20 years of expertise in the material handling industry to optimize AS/RS racking components for improved functionality and reduced production costs. Using our nearly 500,000 feet of production and warehousing space, we’ve worked with countless warehouse automation companies to provide reliable, expedited, and agile fulfillment solutions so their installation crews can rapidly deploy their systems and get a quicker return on investment.
Plus, our expert engineers can work with your team to collaborate on the most efficient, cost-effective solutions that meet your unique design and fulfillment needs. Contact us to find out how we can improve your throughput and supply chain flexibility through roll form AS/RS components.