The automation answer
Download our inside look at DC optimisation
27 May 2020
Everything can be in place and working at peak standard.
Over the course of a distribution centre’s lifespan, there can be millions of dollars lost through the wasted minutes and forgotten millimetres. So it pays to get things right with any new equipment investment. With carefully planned automation optimisation everything can be in place and working at peak standard.
Planning for growth can be tricky even during calm times. Planning for it during what New Zealand is currently experiencing may seem somewhat haphazard. However, with careful analysis and expert guidance you can optimise your warehouse automation to ensure the change is hugely beneficial through both busy and quiet times in the future.
As businesses grow so too does the size of their centre and the number of pallets dispatched and unloaded daily. The growth curve from a small operation to a major distribution centre generally follows some conventional phases.
Making the move from hand wrapping pallets to a semi-automatic stretch wrapping machine is the first step for increasing speed of throughput while saving on pallet film.
In time, with things getting a little busier, further productivity is needed and another pallet wrapping unit may be introduced. Adding a machine or two might solve some immediate issues however without correct flow optimisation at this stage other issues can be created – and key efficiencies lost.
When adding a new machine to a DC and increasing automation it is highly recommended a correct scoping of the floor layout and staging areas be undertaken. There are three main reasons why this process will help increase throughput and safety while providing more room for pallets and allowing for future growth.
1. Time is money.
Yes, a stretch wrapper will wrap your pallets faster than hand wrapping. But how much time is spent driving a forklift to drop the pallet to be wrapped – and then on to the staging area ready for dispatch? If the answer is longer than the time taken to hand wrap then something needs to change.
When the location of your machine is optimised for flow the time spent by a forklift operator loading pallets can be halved. With the support from additional pallet wrapper infrastructure, it can be eliminated all together.
2. Location, location, location.
With smart placement of pallet wrappers crucial distribution real estate can be freed up. This means more space can be created for staging – which means that more time is spent wrapping more pallets (instead of transporting them throughout the warehouse).
Less travel not only saves time but also creates greater efficiencies in fuel use and, with less unnecessary movement, less cost in future equipment replacement.
Safety of your team members should be a top priority. When wrapping machines are set up and optimised for flow there is a significant reduction of operators placing and removing wrapped pallets. This means that clear paths to and from the wrapping area can be laid and there is far less chance for interaction with moving equipment.
Often an optimised wrapping area also allows space for the installation of comprehensive safety barriers. Here it is important that sensible systems ensure there are no easy ‘workarounds’ – if safety impacts productivity team members might try to circumvent the process, making it more dangerous than before.
If you would like a consultation on how we can optimise your flow, either with your existing space or when adding new machinery, get it touch with our technical specialists.