For many manufacturers and operators of industrial processes, competitive pressures are driving the demand for faster, more accurate order fulfillment.  To meet the growing demand for near-real-time access to replacement inventory and spare parts to ensure uninterrupted operation, some distributors and inventory management warehouses are looking to automation technologies and improved workflow processes.

Automation technologies are a good start for improving the accuracy and speed of picking processes, but these technologies are best coupled with improved workflow procedures surrounding order fulfillment, picking and shipping.

According to Kardex Remstar, a provider of automated storage and retrieval systems for manufacturing, distribution and warehousing, automation and improved workflow procedures related to parts picking and order fulfillment offer several positive impacts.

First, by bringing products right to the picking personnel, automated picking systems reduce the time and effort required for manual search-and-retrieve efforts, significantly boosting picking efficiency, worker productivity and overall throughput rate and volume at the facility.

Improved picking accuracy is another benefit. Today’s software-driven automated picking systems can improve picking accuracy, in some cases to above 99 percent. This speeds order fulfillment and allows for later cutoff times each day without compromising same-day and next-day delivery guarantees.

Additionally, software-driven automation picking systems maximize the use of underutilized overhead space from the floor to ceiling. In fact, today’s dynamic storage and retrieval systems can reduce traditional floor space requirements by 65 to 85 percent, says Kardex. In many cases, this newfound floor space can be used to add inventory or to bring existing inventory that is currently stored offsite back under the same roof.

Finally, automated picking systems are designed with the worker in mind, reducing unnecessary foot travel throughout the day and offering an ergonomic design on automated carousels that presents items to workers at waist height.