ASRS Solution Planning and Decision-making
Whether you are installing your first ASRS solution or upgrading an existing ASRS system, warehouse operators need to gather critical facts to determine the best ASRS system option for their application. The choice of ASRS solution must be adaptable to your WMS and warehouse picking processes.
Here are several key questions to answer as part of your ASRS system investment.
Load units, or sometimes referred to or seen written as unit loads, impact every aspect of an ASRS system as they travel throughout the distribution center. Is it a standardized load with items of similar size and weight (e.g., pharmaceuticals) or non-standardized product (e.g., industrial)? Understanding the characteristics of your load units often dictates ASRS storage system requirements.
The ability to efficiently and accurately move orders into and out of the warehouse is essential. What are your peak throughout hours or time of year? Know your throughout requirements to leverage your ASRS system for increased throughout and capacity in the warehouse.
Critical data such as orders per day, picks per day, SKU quantity stored, and active SKUs per day, help establish the level of automation investment and key performance indicators the ASRS system performs against.
Operating a dry storage versus a cold storage facility means significant differences in ASRS system needs and installation. Aside from storage temperature characteristics, what are the attributes of the SKUs in your facility? How do those attributes affect storage capacity?
Operators of food and beverage and pharmaceutical warehouses must meet stringent regulatory requirements. Compliance requires further ASRS system investment to ensure adherence to U.S. Food and Drug Administration safety and security protocols.
Location, location, location. Are you installing an ASRS system into an existing building? If so, choosing the area where the structure rests and knowing the dimensions of the facility are critical. Does the location of the ASRS system allow for a smooth transition into other material flow processes? Does the height clearance allow for high bay ASRS solutions?
Often, building a new facility (referred to as Greenfield construction) provides multiple options for ASRS solutions and future scalability. However, have your ASRS solution plans decided prior to construction. A high bay ASRS warehouse, for example, serves as a support structure for the building.
The more hours per day worked in your facility with automation, the faster your return on investment will be. Will your shift structure change after implementing an ASRS solution into your warehouse ecosystem? Also, if you cannot expand your facility further, you can leave an additional shift open to accommodate for future growth.
With a new ASRS system and a more efficient material flow, you can expect a strong possibility of growth. In order to ensure future scalability, do not “land lock” your new ASRS solution. Make sure you have it near areas of the building for future expansions, including walls where the building can expand. You can also leave space within the ASRS design for future aisles.
With these critical questions answered, it’s time to explore the various ASRS systems and their attributes.