The days when only the largest companies invest in storage machines are over. Since around year 2000, small and medium-sized enterprises have adopted machines as well. Since then the number of machines in warehouses has only gone one way: up.
Today, the largest companies are taking the next step with crane storage and mini-load, when in fact, it is the smaller companies that have the greatest need for storage machines.
Is a storage machine the same as an automatic warehouse?
No. It is also not an intermediate solution, where picking and storage is done manually. A storage machine operates according to the principle of goods-to-operator, the same principle as mini-load & crane warehouses, where a lift brings the tray with the goods forward in a picking opening.
A fully automated solution also automates that part of the work, which can be too expensive for smaller companies. With a storage machine, companies with approximately 300 – 4,000 picking lines a day achieve great benefits.
Why buy storage machines?
The short answer is: to be competitive. Today’s market, both for B2B and B2C companies, is characterized by many players competing to sell the same goods, often at the same price. You can be more competitive by delivering as quickly as possible having the lowest possible logistics costs. Storage machines can, on average, pick items 3X as fast as a manual warehouse.
Look no further than your own household, where most of us have ordered online. Often there are many different suppliers and the prices vary only slightly. But what determines our choice is delivery time. If you cannot get the item quickly, you skip to the next supplier.
Similarly, many companies depend on receiving goods quickly and safely, because they must be able to serve their customers just as quickly and safely. A storage machine can make you the preferred supplier.
Storage machines better utilize your space
Operating 3X faster isn’t the only advantage of storage machines. They also make better use of your space.
Companies that struggle with a lack of warehouse space might consider the advantages of purchasing storage machines versus renting larger, more expensive premises.
- The employees save walking time; the goods come to them rather than workers going to the goods
- The storage machine utilizes the height of the warehouse, and uses minimal floor space
- The machine can be adapted to the warehouse layout, e.g. installed on the outside, but have the pick opening inside.
Another advantage is that you always have the exact stock, not just once a year at status. This means that at all times you only sell what you actually have in stock.
How difficult is it to connect the storage machines to the company’s ERP system?
We’re often asked this question, especially when the company does not have staff with IT knowledge. Although this issue has been a challenge in the past, Dexion has many years of experience in this area, and the software has evolved so that it is much easier to integrate.
Why invest now?
Smaller companies often hesitate to invest in storage machines because of the expense. Clearly, it costs less to buy new shelving. It usually takes 3-4 years to realize ROI for storage machines. However, a well-run business should be able to make smart long-term investments without crossing the pain line. And the immediate benefits are undeniable: improved stock accuracy and pick rates will improve your overall productivity.