Automation hardware

Table of contents

Introduction

Ongoing WMS is hardware independent and Ongoing Warehouse does not distribute nor sell any automation hardware. Automation hardware is integrated with the WMS through our standardized automation API. This means that you can choose any hardware supplier, and either develop the integration yourself, or let the hardware supplier or an external IT-consultant build the integration. There is a description on how to use the API here.

There are many reasons to automate warehouse processes, such as increased speed, better storage utilization, fewer picking errors or better ergonomics. Depending on what you want to achieve, you might want to integrate different types of equipment.

Level of warhouse automation

When speaking about automation in warehouses, often a high level of automation is considered. However, even using scanning is a type of automation. warehouse automation is often divided into two main areas: decision making (e.g. what to pick) and movement of goods. No automation means that a human is handling the complete process, both decision making and moving goods, whereas the highest level of automation would not involve any human interaction at all. Implementing a WMS increases the level of automation for decision making, as does using scanning, but the automation of moving goods has not changed. In this article we will look at solutions for higher level of automation, both in terms of movement of goods and decision making. You find more information about using scanning here.

Automation hardware

Bellow we have listed some examples of automation hardware.

Conveyor belt

A conveyor belt is used to transport objects from one place to another, hence increasing the automation of movement of goods. The conveyor belts may have the ability to move objects to different places depending on the object itself, and would then also increase the automation in decision making. For instance, in a warehouse you may wish to have the conveyor belt move all packages going to Sweden to one location, which all packages going to Norway should be moved to another location altogether.

Implementation example

When integrating a conveyor belt, it is possible to let the belt itself perform moves from one location to another in the Ongoing WMS.

Example of hardware used by our customers:

Vertical storage lift

A vertical storage lift is a machine consisting of several internal locations and some mechanism which can automatically transfer goods between these internal locations and some designated input/output areas. Vertical storage lifts are for example used to increase the utilization of the warehouse and reduce the picking time and accuracy.

Implementation example

When integrating a vertical storage lift, the storage lift will get information from Ongoing WMS about what should be picked. and then the lift's execution system will move or pick the articles from Ongoing WMS through the API. Depending on the solution, the lift might optimize the picking sequence to minimize the picking time, or sole act as a way to increase storage utilization, but the picking sequence is not optimized.

Example of hardware used by our customers: