Advances In Warehouse Automation

The evolution of automation has made a major difference in the efficiency of warehouse operations. Warehouse managers have found that they have a more cost effective business and a rise of productivity thanks to these machines.

Automated conveyor system.
Automated conveyor systems has helped expand the use of more green packaging products.
(Courtesy: Sal Candaleria at

Most recently, however, innovations in warehouse automation have had more of an impact on the environmental concerns of workers and managers.

The eco-friendly impact is toward less space, better hygiene and the reduction in the use of fossil fuels.

The latest innovations in automation has had the following affect:

• A Smaller Footprint
• Reduced Power Consumption
• Less Reliance On Fossil Fuels
• Health, Safety, and Hygiene
• Green Packaging
• Profitability and Sustainability

A Small Footprint

The improvement of automation in the last few years has created the benefit of a smaller physical footprint in the warehouse, and specifically in logistics. Thanks to these machines, products are stacked neatly from the floor to nearly the roof. Moreover, the newest automated storage and retrieval systems quickly select products from anywhere in a compact grid.

As a result, less land is required to host a fully functioning warehouse. However, these machines also have an impact in making a smaller carbon footprint resulting in a warehouse requiring less electricity, water and other resources.

Studies have shown that when comparing a more manual warehouse to warehouses featuring an automated storage and retrieval system, as much as 60 percent less space is necessary.

If you are leasing warehouse space, then this can add up to savings to the company’s bottom line. Consider this. If you construct a warehouse that relies on manual operations that is 10,000 square meters in size, an automated operated warehouse can perform all the needed operations within 4,000 square meters of space. Thus, the leasing costs are less year after year.

Warehouses with automation technologies can used the saved space for other profit-generated activities or improve operations that lead to changes to your business model.

Reduced Power Consumption

Another advantage of an automated storage and retrieval system is that it can operate in the dark resulting in substantial savings in electricity and carbon emissions. More savings are on the way. For example, automated storage and retrieval system robots are coming that ‘ go to sleep’ thus saving power when the machine is not in use.

Automated technologies that work around the clock and that can be controlled remotely can provide savings as well because these machines can be programmed to power up during off-peak power times.

Intelligent Warehouse Management Software run these machines and will be able to automatically calculate the most efficient method to operate all machinery.

Software advances of the future will improve machines’ capabilities to talk with each other. This means that human operators aren’t necessary in a warehouse site for a full day or week.

Less Reliance On Fossil Fuels

The carbon footprint of a warehouse can be reduced when automation technologies replace previous systems that used fossil fuel-power.

The junk of the past that relied on fossil fuel including heavy-duty manually operated machine used to emit more C02 into the air, compared to the newer automated machines, reducing the total carbon emissions of a warehouse. And there is another benefit, although it may not save you any money. Automated technologies are quieter than equipment that relies on fossil fuels.

Health, Safety, And Hygiene

Think about the health and safety issues that can be improved with automated storage and retrieval systems. Reduced manual handling of goods including food, beverages and pharmaceuticals offers sustainability benefits to the society as a whole. For example, it can lower the risk of product contamination or product tampering.

A warehouse manager will want to minimize if not eliminate costs due to product recalls. This can lead to a whole set of problems including product disposal, business interruptions, customer reimbursements and damage to brand reputation.

With the experience of COVID-19, companies are worried about hygiene. Automated systems can end this concern.

All of this can result in more worker safety. Workers no longer have to go deep or high into racks to retrieve products, reducing the possibility of injury. Workers who perform in automated warehouses have a safer, healthier job than the jobs previously held by workers in older warehouses that rely on manual systems.

Green Packaging

Automation technologies can provide assistance in more use of eco-friendly packaging. This type of packaging is more vulnerable to breakages in the handling process. Automation technologies offer a softer touch that allows greener packaging to be used by more warehouses. Improved conveyors, better picker practices, robots, and automated vehicles as well as automation technologies permits the use of greener packaging without compromising the integrity of the product.

Profitability And Sustainability

The efficiency and productivity benefits of automated warehousing have been proven to be beneficial worldwide. These machines help warehouses meet customer needs and eliminate inefficiencies.

Look for old warehouses to be retrofitted to include automated technologies to achieve a greater standard of environmental sustainability.