Automated warehouse

The warehouse has a significant impact on the service level(it shall guarantee suitable lead times through processes and structures reducing errors and damages to the minimum) and on the running costs (it accounts for about one fourth of the total logistic costs, on average). It is therefore clear that it should not be considered just an unavoidable cost; more importantly, it represents of the levers for competitiveness.

In many cases it is advisable to evaluate whether it is profitable to create an automated warehouse. This has to be done with no preconceived ideas that is without an approach characterized by commercial influences or prejudices. It is also worth remembering that very often an automated warehouse cannot solve all problems linked to storing and handling, especially in case of complex warehouses characterized by large dimensions. For instance, there can be products whose physical characteristics are not compatible with the loading units adopted by the automated warehouse or reference codes whose handling level does not comply with the one attributed to them by the automated warehouse since they are too much or too little handled. This is the reason why it is very important to tackle the problem as a whole involving all functional areas (from reception to shipping also focusing, in the case of manufacturing companies, on the integration with the flows from and to the production departments). A logistics consulting company has all the professional requirements needed to face an all-round project in the correct way.

The technological options to solve the problem of warehouse operation through automation increased a lot compared to a few years ago and choosing the most suitable ones in terms of performance and return on investment requires a careful activity of analysis, especially when picking activities need to be carried out.

Over more than 30 years of experience in logistics consulting Simco has designed lots of automated warehouses in all sectors, applying with success several storage technologies (single deep, double deep pallet stacker cranes, shuttle stacker cranes for pallets, single and double deep miniload systems, multi-tool miniload systems, miniload systems for boxes and cartons of various sizes, multi-shuttles, etc.) and a variety of handling heads (conveyors, shuttles, overhead self-powered trolleys, LGVs, anthropomorphic or gantry (Cartesian coordinate) robots for automated picking etc.).

Our Customers have almost always involved us both in the Feasibility Study, that is the phase where the best warehouse solution from the point of view of organization and technology has to be selected by deciding, among other things, whether to choose for an automated warehouse or to adopt more conventional solutions, and in the phase of completion where our consulting focuses on:

  • Designing the detailed layout
  • Drawing up technical and general tender specifications
  • Giving support to procurement
  • Project Management
  • Giving support to testing (FAT and SAT)
  • Giving support to commissioning phase

The development of these activities during the phases of completion of automated warehouses enabled us to acquire a very specific know-how. It translates in the capability to make the solutions to be adopted extremely reliable in terms of organization, layout, technology and calculation of the return on investment, starting from the Feasibility Study.

Automated warehouses are quite complex not only under the technological point of view, but also under the performance level it aims to reach: the storage and handling system shall guarantee, mainly concerning the heads. This is why for over 20 years Simco has developed dynamic simulations with its own tools and know-how.

 

THE METHOD

FEASABILITY STUDY

It defines the strategic, technological and organisational options to remove weaknesses and reach an excellent level, as to efficiency, accuracy and service. It identifies alternative solutions, which are analysed and presented by setting values in terms of gainable results, budget and investment return, operation costs, operation flexibility, implementation deadlines.

DETAIL PLAN

It is the analytical planning of all the components of the warehouse for the issuing of drawings and technical and functional specifications for the launch of tendering procedures.

REALISATION MANAGEMENT

In co-operation with the customer, we provide a technical support for the render, we verify the technical content and the timing of the project achievement, we carry out the logistic project management and the supervision at the building site with staff training, assistance during tests, start up and commissioning.

PERIODIC MONITORING OF EFFICIENCY

After the commissioning, real results achieved are verified together with the reasons why some targets were not reached. New targets are set in a logic of “continual improvement”.

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