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» Warehouse Management -
Voice Recognition
» RFID Overview
Warehouse Automation
The importance of warehouse automation in the highly competitive arena of todayís marketplace can hardly be overstressed. Knowing exactly where products are stored and the quickest way to remove them from those locations, in real time, provides a tremendous advantage when orders are picked and shipped. Automated warehouse systems provide tremendous time and cost savings, as companies that have already installed them will readily testify. Warehouse automation coupled with RFID technology further enhances efficiency and provides additional cost savings.

Given the modern demand for haste and expediency in all things, many older warehouses simply arenít capable of operating fast enough to provide products in a timely fashion. That is the case with both manual and older computerized systems. In many warehouse situations, data is hand entered into the computer system, while warehouse workers are kept busy picking orders and putting stock away. The data generated by the employees can be virtually outdated by the time it is input, since situations can change pretty rapidly on the warehouse floor. When that happens, it may become difficult to answer customer inquiries if nobody knows for certain when a shipment arrived or when a batch was shipped, without taking the time to search through reams of paperwork.

In an automated warehouse, on the other hand, all items are scanned (either by bar codes or by radio frequency identification) as they move in, out or around the warehouse. That data is downloaded directly to the computer system, which is then capable of providing real-time information about where everything is located and how much of it exists. The inventory is automatically updated as the products move, without the need for any manual counting or data entry. In some cases, customers can even log onto a warehouse web site and see for themselves where their order is in the system.

There is seldom any question about where a particular product is located, or how many pallets of it are stored there. Different batches of the same product can even be stored in separate locations, since the automated system tracks the location and quantity of each product, again in real time. When an order comes in, the order taker only needs to access the computer records to see how much of any given product is in the warehouse and pinpoint exactly where it is located for the order picker.

Report generation capabilities are significantly enhanced in addition to the other benefits that automated warehouse systems provide. Inventory reports and detailed invoicing can be generated directly from the computer system and do not have to be prepared separately. In addition, the accuracy of reporting is greatly increased since it is base on the latest, most updated, information.

It is nearly impossible to run a third party warehousing operation in todayís marketplace without the advantages provided by an automated warehouse system. This is particularly true in situations where orders and order changes come in frequently and have to be processes rapidly. Some companies have indicated that installing automated warehouse systems has saved them substantial amounts of operating capital and that the systems provide a pretty rapid return on investment.
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