AutoStore™: The Next Big Step Towards Seamless Warehouse Innovation

AutoStore robot handling bin

Consumer demand for goods on a global scale is reaching new heights as we move further into 2021. From a boom in e-commerce and a surge in general consumer demand for goods, worldwide supply chains are increasingly challenged to innovate and meet this demand to remain competitive.

For industries, enterprises, and even small businesses, this represents a fantastic opportunity for a revision of technology investments. In countless new examples, businesses are proving that investments in supply chain technology are helping them adapt quickly to market changes and customer demands to stay ahead of their competitors.

For industries looking for an advanced, fully automated solution to streamline storage, picking, and packing warehouse operations with the lowest footprint in the market, AutoStore, empowered by Dematic is the perfect innovative solution.

AutoStore vs. manual warehousing

AutoStore is an automated storage, goods-to-person (GTP) picking and fulfilment solution, designed to maximize warehouse space and minimize manual labor. When compared to a typical manual warehouse operation, AutoStore streamlines the process significantly, creating an efficient picking process with a single operator doing the equivalent work of four to five manual pickers. With AutoStore, the products are brought directly to the operator, working to actively streamline the picking process by reducing warehouse foot traffic and keeping the products close to where they are required to be.

Likewise, replenishment and returns can be effectively streamlined with AutoStore. Items are received directly to a single location for insertion into the system. This is especially beneficial for reverse logistics, considering the burden of the increasing number of customer returns as single units. In a manual operation, this can be a tedious effort to walk around the warehouse and visit each slot to replenish single units. With AutoStore, the bins are delivered directly to the receiving area, then whisked away by robots for storage. Returns can also be consolidated with existing stock at receiving by delivering specific bins in sequence to the operator.

Storage space and footprint is another key challenge for modern operations. Whether you lease or buy an existing parcel of land, build new facilities, or make use of existing structures, footprint is expensive. AutoStore has the highest storage density of any GTP solution in the market. While many happy customers have saved money on a smaller building or parcel of land, others have cleared up to 80% of the footprint from their existing manual warehousing space, and thus avoided having to move altogether. Furthermore, space savings allow for better utilization of existing facilities beyond warehousing. Some customers have used newly created space to expand manufacturing or add special areas for value-adding tasks such as kitting or custom build areas.

For example, envisage an operation that needs 300 bays of long span shelving to provide the required storage and SKU selectivity. Now consider the space required for this operation. There are the products themselves, the steel and shelving of the bays, and the clearances between levels, and then there is the ‘empty’ space required for the pickers to walk through the aisles and maneuver their equipment. This space is empty from floor to ceiling. This solution would conservatively require 1,730 m², including the storage, aisles, and some packing benches. A long-span bay of shelving is typically the equivalent of 20 AutoStore bins. Therefore our 300 bays represent 6,000 AutoStore bins. The space required for 6,000 AutoStore bins with GTP ports is just 220 m², which is an 87% footprint saving in the storage and packing area.

AutoStore’s unparalleled flexibility allows it to align with the specific fulfilment challenges a business needs to address. Additionally, in the age of COVID-19, AutoStore allows for excellent social distancing practices, with separation of workers at dedicated ports and no need for workers to walk around and pass each other.

Why choose AutoStore?

In addition to the evident improvements in labor productivity and warehouse space utilization, the AutoStore solution can improve ergonomics, stock accuracy, pick accuracy, product security, service levels, and returns processes.

The digitization of warehouse operations has proven to be a key driver of improvement for the modern warehouse, where real-time reporting provides a new level of insight to the operation. In today’s world, big data is a big asset. There’s a competitive advantage and thus market share on offer for the businesses that can measure what matters, with fact-based insights allowing effective decision making and continuous improvement. With Dematic and the AutoStore solution, stock levels are accurate with continuous cycle-counting, pick rates are clear, and fast-moving and slow-moving SKUs are easily identified. Likewise, service levels are measurable and easy improvements often reveal themselves within the data and reporting space. Furthermore, the interface can be tailored to integrate to your chosen ERP or WMS.

Likewise, there are many advantages to integrating AutoStore to operations as a Dematic subsystem. With Dematic’s provision, the AutoStore is guaranteed to serve as an end-to-end solution for operational efficiency; striving to deliver the degree of operational control needed to support business growth and deliver the best level of customer service. Moreover, combined with its unrivalled industry experience and expertise, Dematic supports the performance of AutoStore by assessing each customers’ operations and business goals to determine the best solution for their entire operation.

A solution designed for business growth

Markets and customer expectations change continuously, so business operations must be agile in their response to protect and claim market share. Despite the impressive analysis that is built into the best forecasting models, the results are still a forecast.

AutoStore is scalable and designed to be quickly expanded. Additional robots and ports can be available as stock-on-hand, ready for the next project or expansion. The grid can also be easily expanded with minimal interruption and progressively filled with bins as SKU and storage demand increases. Therefore, businesses only need to invest in enough capacity to cover the short-term forecast. AutoStore allows businesses to hold onto their money for later and expand when business reaches growth targets and avoid overcapitalizing if it doesn’t.

Automation for a greener warehouse

AutoStore, empowered by Dematic, is also one of the most sustainable warehouse picking solutions on the market. AutoStore uses power regeneration technology with the robots to make AutoStore one of the lowest energy consuming technologies in warehousing. In fact, a turnkey system with 10 robots and a GTP port will consume the same energy as a domestic toaster: 1,200 Watts. In addition to saving money, this represents a real opportunity for businesses to promote their green credentials in the market with a tangible example.

All in all, AutoStore is a leading warehouse innovation making intelligent use of space and streamlining picking, packing, and replenishment operations. From upscaling for future growth to gaining valuable insights into warehouse operations to deliver business-critical improvements, AutoStore is a solution for proactive planning, better productivity, and a self-sufficient warehouse.

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