How Agile Is Your Fulfilment Solution to Cope With the New Normal

Automated Fulfilment Centres

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the anticipated future growth and demands on fulfilment centres which have been driven by the dramatic growth of internet sales.

This has resulted in a growing interest in automated storage solutions and goods to person systems which can deliver major improvements in efficiency and costs savings in distribution and fulfilment centres.

Research from Global Commerce company, PFS, reports that 53% of consumers have purchased more online as a result of the lockdown and 77% went on to say they expect to continue to purchase online now that lockdown is over.

39% of respondents also stated they had purchased products online that they had not considered before. This number increased to 61% for those classed as Generation Z.

The evidence demonstrates the recent surge in demand is unlikely to fall to pre-lockdown levels and is highly likely to continue to grow.

This places new challenges on fulfilment centres and distribution warehouses to be able to cope with sharper peaks in demands, longer periods of demands and potential a larger number of returns.

Will the SKU profile increase significantly? Do you have enough locations for these SKUs? Can specific promotional activities cause sudden surges in demand? Can your current system meet the demand?

Resilience in a Fulfilment Centre

The ability of warehouses to be responsive to changes in demand is now imperative and the resilience of your operations will play a major part in determining future success.

One of the biggest factors in determining how agile a manual picking operation is comes down to the availability of labour and the ability to social distance within your facility.

Issues such as Brexit and the increase in the national living wage has already made resourcing a major issue for fulfilment centres, however, this has been exacerbated by the need to maintain adequate social distancing.

The growing costs of labour and the challenges of achieving the right staffing levels to cope with large fluctuations in demand could have a massive impact on your ability to meet demand.

Goods to Person and Automated FULFILMENT CENTRES

Goods to person systems can enable companies to scale up and scale down operations with virtually no impact on costs and efficiencies. This enables them to cope with sudden fluctuations in demand without the need to incur major labour costs.

As the name suggests, these systems do away with the need for operators to walk countless miles every year, picking products from locations and returning them to a dedicated picking and packing point. By using automated technology and intelligent robots to bring the goods to a dedicated work station, goods to person systems can transform the profitability per operator.

One of the more worrying figures in the research stated that 50% of shoppers had reported an unsatisfactory online shopping experience which left them disappointed at not being able to get something they wanted delivered.

This is often caused by inefficiencies in a fulfilment centre and simply adding additional operators to cope with demand isn’t always the solution.

Statistics show that up to 70% of a picking operative’s time is estimated to be non-value adding which means that those additional operators are incurring major costs for very little productivity gain.

The Goods to Person approach not only dramatically reduces picking and put away times, they also enable operatives to work at socially distanced work stations whilst improving pick accuracy.

Certain modular systems can also allow additional robots to be added to increase picking speeds to cope with demand, whilst requiring no additional operators.

However, one of the major benefits of key Goods to Person and Automated systems is the ability for the system to use its intelligence to continually improve the efficiency of the fulfilment centre.

By interrogating the information processed by the intelligent software, the system can place fast moving items closer to the picking points and slower moving items, deeper into the system.

These compelling factors are driving the growth in demand for Goods to Person and Automated technology and enabling those companies who have invested to take great strides in becoming a more efficient, resilient and profitable operation.

To find out more about Automated Fulfilment Centres, contact us now on 01236 453888 or get in touch with us.

Read more at the Growth of Goods to Person Systems

Automated Fulfilment Centres | Automated Distribution Centres | Goods to Person Systems for Fulfilment Centres