Warehouse automation revolutionized the way businesses manage their inventory and fulfillment operations. By using technology and robotics to streamline processes and increase efficiency, companies can reduce costs, improve accuracy, and speed up order fulfillment.
This comprehensive list of warehouse automation terms and their definitions provides a handy reference guide to help you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies in warehouse automation processes, robots, and systems.
Automated Maintenance and Facility Management: Facility maintenance tasks, such as cleaning and repairs, can use systems like autonomous cleaning robots and predictive maintenance software. This can improve safety and reduce labor costs.
Receiving and Unloading: Automation can streamline the receiving and unloading process by using sensors, RFID technology, and scanning devices to quickly identify and track incoming shipments.
Automatic Sortation: Automatically sorting products into their designated locations using conveyor systems and sortation equipment.
Goods-to-Person (GTP): A method of order-picking where items come to a picker rather than the picker traveling to retrieve the items.
Inventory Management: Automation can be used to manage inventory in the warehouse. This can include automated systems that count inventory, track product movement, and monitor inventory levels, ensuring accurate and up-to-date inventory information.
Line Balancing: The process of evenly distributing workloads among workers and machines.
Machine Learning: A subset of artificial intelligence that allows machines to learn and improve from experiences without being explicitly programmed.
Machine Vision: A technology that uses cameras and image processing software to identify and locate objects.
Order Picking: Automated picking optimizes the order-picking process using pick-to-light systems, voice-activated picking, and robotic picking systems. This process can improve accuracy and speed, reducing the time it takes to fulfill orders.
Packing and Shipping: Automated systems can weigh, measure, and label packages and sort them for shipping. These systems can speed up the process and reduce errors.
PTG: Pick-to-Gravity, a process of picking and placing products directly into gravity-fed conveyors or chutes for transportation to their destination.
Put-away and Storage Automation: Automated storage and retrieval systems, conveyor systems, and other types of automation can optimize warehouse storage and put-away processes, ensuring efficient use of space and minimizing handling time.
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs): These robots can navigate autonomously throughout a warehouse, using sensors and cameras to detect obstacles and navigate around them. AMRs perform various tasks, such as picking and transporting products, inventory management, and facility maintenance.
Automated Order Picking Machines: Machines that automatically pick and move products from their storage locations to a designated area for packing or shipping.
Cobot: A Collaborative Robot is designed to work safely with human operators in a shared workspace.
Deadheading: A vehicle or robot moves without carrying any materials or goods.
RaaS: Robotics-as-a-Service, a model where companies can rent and pay for robots on a usage basis rather than purchasing them outright.
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs): AGVs are self-driving vehicles designed to move materials and products around a warehouse or distribution center. They are often used for pallet handling, order picking, and material transport.
Robotic Arms: Robotic arms are used for a wide range of tasks, including palletizing and depalletizing, order picking, and packing. They can handle products of different sizes and shapes, making them a versatile option for warehouse automation.
Goods-to-Person Robots: Goods-to-Person robots are designed to bring products directly to warehouse workers, allowing them to stay in one place and pick orders more efficiently. They can be used for order picking, inventory management, and replenishment.
Autonomous Forklifts: These are self-driving forklifts that can navigate autonomously through a warehouse or distribution center, reducing the need for manual labor. They are used for material transport, order picking, and pallet handling.
Carousels: A type of storage system that rotates vertically or horizontally to bring items to a picking station.
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS): AS/RS uses robotic cranes to automatically store and retrieve products from high-density racking systems. They are used to optimize space utilization and reduce labor costs.
Pick Modules: A multi-level racks and conveyors system designed for efficient order picking.
Pick-to-Light: A system of lights used to direct warehouse workers to the exact location of a product for picking.
Shuttles: A robotic storage and retrieval system that uses a small vehicle to transport items between storage locations and picking stations.
VLM: Vertical Lift Module, an automated storage and retrieval system that uses a vertical column of trays to store and retrieve items.
Automated Picking Systems: These systems use robots to pick and place products, reducing the need for manual labor. They can be used for various applications, including piece picking, case picking, and palletizing.
Warehouse Management Systems (WMS): A WMS is a software system that manages and tracks the movement and storage of inventory within a warehouse. It can optimize inventory levels, improve order fulfillment, and reduce labor costs.
Conveyor Systems: Conveyor systems transport products or materials within a warehouse. They can be automated to handle different product types, increasing efficiency and reducing labor costs.
Sortation Systems: Sortation systems are used to sort and route products to their destinations within a warehouse. They can use various methods, such as conveyor belts, robotic arms, and pneumatic tubes.
Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC): AIDC technology, such as barcode scanners and RFID systems, tracks and manages inventory within a warehouse. It can improve accuracy and reduce the need for manual data entry.
Dock Management Systems: Dock management systems can automate the process of loading and unloading trucks, reducing waiting times and improving productivity. They can also improve safety by reducing the risk of accidents at loading docks.
About the Author
Tom Compton is the President of Industrial Shelving Systems (ISS) and retains an active sales role with both ISS and ISS Material Handling. Tom is a seasoned professional who has been working in the industry for over 10 years. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Mizzou, where he honed his expertise in designing and analyzing mechanical systems. Tom has continued to show his dedication and excellence in the field by earning a 6 Sigma Green Belt. When Tom is not working, he spends his time with his family and friends. A devoted father of three children, he also is an avid sports fan and enjoys playing hockey and golf in his free time. He is also passionate about NHRA racing and follows the sport closely.
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