November 29, 2022
Matthews Integrates WES, ASRS, AMRs and Pick-to-Light for Goods-to-Person Processes
As companies prepare for 2023, they’re seeking new ways of meeting the demands of ecommerce order fulfillment amidst a shortage of labor, unpredictable supply chains, expensive warehouse space and other disruptions. Fortunately, established and evolving warehouse automation technologies are being combined, connected and reimagined in today’s distribution centers (DC) for applications that maximize resources and can effectively respond to increased order volume.
Traditionally DCs use person-to-goods picking, where employees travel to product storage locations to select items for orders. Lately more DCs are moving towards goods-to-person (GTP) applications, where products required for an order are automatically transported to employees for picking. When labor is difficult to find, GTP enhances employee productivity by allowing them to focus on picking or other value-added tasks while automation handles basic product movement. Goods-to-person systems are scalable to meet growing demand or SKU count. They also increase speed and efficiency in high-volume ecommerce and omnichannel fulfillment operations where customers expect immediate, flawless delivery. Automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are two popular technologies used to execute GTP processes.
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS)
Goods-to-person applications often use automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS or often AS/RS) like shuttles or mini-load ASRS to bring cartons or totes of products from high-density storage to workstations for picking. With ASRS, distribution centers can use more of their vertical cube and ‘go up’ for additional storage, especially useful now that distribution center space is at a premium. ASRS also maintain better inventory count and quality. Products are delivered to employees at ergonomically designed workstations, increasing their productivity and accuracy.
Matthews NEXUS warehouse execution system has integrated many leading ASRS solutions with other warehouse automation in the facility. NEXUS WES software uses real-time data and adaptive learning to enhance throughput by continuously adjusting resources, based on rate and projected workflow. NEXUS may, for example, balance work by routing some orders from an ASRS to a robotic picking arm, while others go to a pick-to-light area where products like Matthews Lightning Pick, which has been integrated with top ASRS providers, can boost pick rate productivity, or offer put walls for fast order sortation.
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)
Diminished labor resources and increased ecommerce demand are also driving the adoption of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). Like ASRS, the AMRs eliminate the need for employees to walk throughout a DC looking for the right merchandise. AMRs are more flexible for facility layout changes than large conveyor systems, so they’re very scalable.
With NEXUS, Matthews has integrated a variety of these best-of-breed technologies for picking, sorting and material transport. Matthews also offers application-specific toppers for the AMRs, enabling exciting new possibilities. For years, Lightning Pick carts have helped employees batch-pick multiple orders with each pass through the DC. Now order waves can move autonomously throughout the distribution center instead of being pushed by a human, allowing people to focus on the greater value task of picking orders.
AMRs can also deliver totes or cartons of product to put walls for goods-to-person sortation applications. Lights on the AMR top, or projection picking systems, can guide employees to the right totes. From there, lights on the put walls guide employees to fill the correct ecommerce or direct-to-consumer order.
Moving Forward with Goods-to-Person Applications
Matthews Automation helps top brands in retail, ecommerce, third-party logistics, parcel post, food and beverage, e-grocery, manufacturing, and other high-volume sectors transform their legacy distribution centers into responsive omnichannel fulfillment centers. For over 25 years they have integrated their material handling equipment and synchronized automation with Pyramid | Compass warehouse execution software and warehouse control systems.
Since 1998, Lightning Pick pick-to-light, put walls, picking carts and other light-directed applications have guided thousands of employees to pick, put and pack orders with greater speed and precision. Today these leading warehouse automation brands provide end-to-end process optimization and integrated, enterprise class systems together as Matthews Automation.
Contact Matthews today to discuss your good-to-person applications or other process improvements. Keep reading Automation Insights for upcoming posts on our AMR tops, plus integrated systems using ASRS, robotics and other advanced material handling technologies.