E-commerce Is Driving New Automation Technologies

Jul 30, 2021
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robots in an e-commerce warehouse

As online sales have increased, so has the demand for warehouse automation, which is changing the way businesses handle order fulfillment.

Over the last decade, market trends have shifted dramatically toward e-commerce. As online sales have increased, so has the demand for warehouse automation, which is changing the way businesses handle order fulfillment.

Retail tech juggernauts like Amazon and Walmart have forever changed consumer expectations. Lead times and order profiles are becoming increasingly aggressive with shorter fulfillment windows and quicker delivery times. Customers expect larger stock selection, more unique item offerings and ever increasing convenience.

In the past, order fulfillment was about preparing items for retail distribution. These days, many items are going direct to consumers, meaning that many more smaller orders need to be processed much more rapidly. To take on such a fundamental shift, automation technology has to be more robust and more intelligent.

E-commerce automation is less about largescale warehouse mechanization technologies like fixed conveyer and sortation systems, and more about flexible and adaptable systems. E-com demand is inherently less predictable and systems need to be built around fluctuation.

While conveyors and AS/RS systems certainly have their place in an e-com operation, other technologies like automatic truck loading, micro-fulfillment centers and robotic picking are gaining rapid acceptance.

Automatic Truck Loading Systems

Automatic truck loading systems, also known as an ATLS, refers to the automatic insert and removal of pallets into/ from a truck with minimal operator intervention.  This is generally done with conveyor systems on the loading dock that link to conveyors in individual trailers.  Loading and unloading times can go from 30 minutes or more to under 3 minutes.  

Micro Fulfillment Centers

Micro-fulfillment places small warehouse facilities in densely populated urban locations close to the consumer to improve delivery times.

Robotic Picking Solutions

Tremendous advances in robotic arm and end of arm tools, coupled with AI enhanced camera systems have made robotic piece picking a viable technology. 

E-commerce Automation Experts

If you'd like to learn more about the latest in e-com automation options for your business, give Raymond West a call today.