Automated storage system - advantages vs. disadvantages

What are the benefits of automation in the warehouse?

Automation in warehousing marks a turning point in the way companies manage and optimize their warehouse space. Automated high-bay warehouses not only bring a new dimension to space utilization, but also significant improvements in efficiency and quality of work. These technological advances enable smooth, fast handling of warehouse processes, minimize errors and increase customer satisfaction through higher delivery quality. By enabling a seamless interplay between speed, precision and ergonomics, automated high-bay warehouses are redefining the future of warehousing.

Example of an automated high-bay warehouse at CLAAS

Advantages and disadvantages of automation in the warehouse

The most important advantages and disadvantages of an automated high-bay warehouse compared to manual solutions:

Advantages of automation

Automated high-bay warehouses can be up to 45 meters high. In relation to the floor space, they therefore have a very large storage capacity. With double or triple-deep storage, several load carriers are positioned one behind the other in the racking. This further increases the capacity of the high-bay warehouse.

The higher throughput rate without additional personnel leads to lower unit costs. This effect is even greater in multi-shift operation. Due to the lower space consumption, the operator saves on imputed costs.

The quality of deliveries is determined by their completeness and packaging quality and ensures customer satisfaction and a low returns rate. Picking errors are reduced to a minimum by systematically guiding the picker and checking their work as thoroughly as possible. A carton that fits as accurately as possible, protective filling material, clean gluing and labeling are evidence of professionalism.

Speed is playing an increasingly important role. In an automated environment, it only takes a few minutes for a container to be retrieved and arrive at the picking station. This means that a company with a wide range of articles can offer its customers significantly shorter response times than with a purely manual warehouse. To optimize handling times, the entire workflow from ordering to dispatch must be consistent and coordinated.

Ergonomics depends to a large extent on the design of the picking and packing stations. At workstations where the material is delivered automatically, there is the possibility of ergonomic optimization. The arrangement of article and order containers as well as the required auxiliary materials is carried out in such a way that distances, movement sequences and gripping heights place as little strain as possible on the employee.

Disadvantages of automation

An automated logistics system works with defined load carriers. Containers, trays, pallets and mesh boxes have fixed dimensions and a maximum load. This imposes certain restrictions on the range of articles. If performance requirements change significantly, the logistics system may need to be adapted. However, it is also possible to scale the performance of automated systems, e.g. in a shuttle warehouse.

Technology can fail: Trained maintenance personnel are required to minimize the impact on operations in the event of a malfunction. Very few faults are caused by errors in the system technology or software. Instead, misaligned light barriers and improperly loaded pallets are among the classic causes of malfunctions. System visualization and analysis tools in the warehouse management system help with troubleshooting.

A high-bay warehouse places higher demands on the structural properties of the floor slab. In addition, fire protection measures are usually more complex.

An automated logistics system usually consists of many individual trades that are closely interlinked. The time required for planning, implementation and commissioning should be estimated at a minimum of 12 months.

The three-phase plan

If, after an initial assessment, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, it makes sense to take a closer look at the planning of a high-bay warehouse. To give such a planning process more structure, we have developed the three-phase plan, which can serve as a guideline for you.

Click here for more information:

Logistics Consulting
High bay warehouse

Your contact person

Benjamin Fritsch

Consultant Logistics

T +49 2261 987-506
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Practical tips from our logistics consultants

  • An automated high-bay pallet warehouse is generally only worthwhile from a height of 10 meters.
  • Automated warehouses are particularly worthwhile if more than one shift per day is operated.
  • From a height of 7.50 m (top edge of load), an automatic fire extinguishing system is mandatory. There are exceptions for small warehouses (e.g. one aisle).
  • The picking performance per picker in an automated logistics system is about twice as high as in a manual warehouse.
  • Exceptions prove the rule - we will be happy to look at your individual case.

Study and white paper: Automation in intralogistics

When the question of intralogistics efficiency arises, automation is often seen as a panacea for improvement. But how many companies in Germany have automated so far? What are the reasons for or against automation? And how willing are those responsible to invest?

Unitechnik surveyed more than 100 participants from companies in various industries in February 2021. 71 participants answered the survey in full.
Download the study for free. Unitechnik has created a white paper on the same topic. This can be used as a guide to determine which level of automation is suitable for your own company.

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Warehouse planning tool

Would you like to know how much a warehouse costs? No problem, use our new warehouse planning tool. Enter the number of storage locations you require and we will compare two alternative solutions with space and personnel requirements as well as the investment budget. Try it out - quickly and anonymously.

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Logistics Consulting

Discover the future of your operational logistics with "Logistics Consulting". We offer expertise in the development and implementation of customized, efficient and technology-supported logistics solutions. Our three-phase plan includes assessment, planning and implementation. Make your company fit for the future.

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Seven pitfalls...

We have been implementing logistics projects as a general contractor for over 20 years. In the process, we have repeatedly noticed things that hinder the success of projects. We have described seven pitfalls in a PDF.

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