Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) are rapidly proving that high-capacity and throughput can be achieved while maximizing space utilization. A solution like ASRS can be a better way to utilize existing space, rather than building new warehouse.
In the Netherlands, UPS Global Logistics & Distribution wanted to add space to their existing fulfillment center, but didn’t want to build another warehouse. The UPS team needed to find a solution that improved throughput, optimized space and cost far less that building a new warehouse or expanding the floorspace of the existing fulfillment center. The goal was to optimize the existing building’s floorspace.
The UPS team determined that implementing a leading automated storage and retrieval system was the best solution. ASRS’s are gaining credibility as one of the best fulfillment solutions to optimize floorspace and improve throughput for order fulfillment. There are three main types of ASRS solutions currently on the market.
There are three additional subcategories that the team had to consider within the ASRS classification of warehouse automation solutions:
- Bin-to-Person or Bin-based ASRS (bASRS)
- Cube-based ASRS (cASRS)
- Unit-load ASRS for larger items, stored on pallets (uASRS)
Automated storage and retrieval systems are revolutionizing traditional warehousing and order fulfillment. Sprawling buildings filled with tall racks, wide rows and loud forklifts are being replaced by grids and bins with robotic arms and workstations. The UPS team had to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each type of ASRS solution to make their decision.
bASRS solutions are quick to deploy, and take advantage of autonomous mobile robots to automate the storage and retrieval of bins/totes on existing warehouse shelving. Most of the current bASRS vendors can deploy a working solution within weeks, and bASRS solutions leverage existing racking and floorspace.
uASRS solutions are optimized and designed for storage and retrieval of unit load pallets. uASRS solutions are a solution for bulk storage and retrieval use cases, including manufacturing warehouses and storerooms.
cASRS solutions offer the opportunity to maximize the available warehouse space. A cASRS solution is the most expensive to deploy as it requires all new racking to be installed, however the huge advantage of cASRS is that the new racking solution can expand vertically to the height of most warehouse ceilings. The resulting storage “cube” maximizes the available space in three dimensions thus the name “cube ASRS”. Humans do not enter the cube storage array, but rather the placement and acquisition of storage totes are handled by robotic shuttles. Bins/totes are delivered to outtake ports on the cube, where items can be pulled for individual customer orders.
UPS Europe chose AutoStore as their cASRS solution provider.
Using a grid of storage bins, robots and ports (pick and put-away stations) the cASRS solution leveraging AutoStore provides many benefits:
- Reduces noise and physical strain for employees.
- Up to 400% more storage capacity in the same space versus a traditional warehouse.
- More capacity can be added without disturbing current operations
- A system with ten robots uses the same amount of energy as a vacuum cleaner.
The AutoStore system was deployed in May 2020, and since that time it has helped a large, global UPS customer increase capacity and efficiency while controlling costs. As a result, UPS was awarded the customer’s 2020 Technologies Global Service Parts Executive Choice for Innovation.
Kim de la Croix, a clerk at the fulfillment center, said she’s seen a lot of change and growth in the operation during her 17 years with UPS. “When the announcement came that UPS was going to automate the warehouse, the team was very curious,” she said. “We didn’t know what to expect from AutoStore or how it would affect our working environment.” With the old process, employees had to walk back and forth throughout the warehouse picking parts from shelves using trolleys. Now, most parts are picked from the system with a robotic arm, then transported and sorted via a conveyor directly to workstations where UPSers pack the parts. “We’re all very happy that AutoStore became a part of our team,” Kim said. “It saves a lot of time and has made our process way more efficient.”
A similar system was implemented for another UPS customer at a distribution facility in Butzbach, Germany.
See this new automation in action and learn more about the UPS Service Parts Logistics offering.