Intelligent Warehouse Management Systems
Nowadays, many people use smartphones, intelligent building systems and intelligent vehicles. Intelligent Warehouse Management Systems, like the other intelligent systems, are complete storage systems consisting certain software, hardware and other components.
The intelligent warehouse Management Systems are consisting the following elements; racking systems, auto-controlled robots, computer systems, hardware and software.
The components which makes up the system, have the ability to move in the X, Y, Z, U, W axes, which are electronically controled cabinets with racking systems, computer and hardware which can be driven by PLC (Programmable Logic Controller, Programmable Logic Controller) or Driver Cards stacker crane, shuttle (pallet runner) and so on. AC and DC motors working with electrical energy, machines that can move with conveyor systems, elevators between floors and magnetic stripe monitoring independent lifts.
Depending on the size of the system, the coordination of this system requires one or more PC’s or tablets, a hand-held terminal and a main server. Communication and data flow in the system can be done wirelessly or with a data cable if desired.
The intelligent storage system’s foundation is based up on high-altitude racking systems. The height of these shelves can reach 30-40 meters.
In intelligent warehousing systems, there is a tower crane (stacker crane) with the ability to move both horizontally and vertically at the same time on a fixed rail along a corridor.
The tower robot is a single unit by itself. All the systems and components needed are carried in a dashboard.
The movement system of the tower robot is made by synchronous or asynchronous motors.
The tower robot is equipped with sensors which measures distance along the line and provide precise positioning. There are many different sensors existing for number of functions such as pallet detection, shuttle detection, rack head and etc.
Apart from all these sensors, additional motion sensitive safety sensors are also available for each axis. The tower robot provides built-in PLC control by itself. In very special circumstances, Motion Controller or Driver Cards can be used instead of PLC control unit.
Tower robot (Stacker Crane) can work in a corridor with a maximum width of 1500 mm. The width of 1500mm is a measurement especially determined by consideration of the euro pallet standard.
The tower robot works coordinated by a Radio Pallet Shuttle on the shelf.
The shuttle system uses its own rechargeable DC power source to move. The shuttle system has its own independent PLC control system and sensors as well as the tower robot.
The Radio Pallet shuttle provides wireless communication with the tower robot and the main server. The Radio Pallet shuttle system accurately measures pre-defined pallets of different dimensions in the program and stacks them by using a specialised method or unloads from racks and moves them to a specific point where the tower robot can be able take.
When the Radio Pallet Shuttle stack’s or unload goods from the rack, transport’s the system either consecutively or one-by-one specified number of items in series. Once the shuttle completes its mission, it will stop at the standby point.
After task of storing or unloading specified products completed, the tower robot keeps working by transferring Radio Pallet Shuttle to another rack.
If the loading or unloading operation is completed, the tower robot complete’s the operation by bringing Radio Pallet Shuttle to the waiting point outside of the storage area.
In addition to Tower Robot Systems and Radio Pallet Shuttle System, various auxiliary systems can be used in intelligent warehouse systems. These include, conveyor or line follower robots, pallet trucks, forklifts, freight elevators in storeys, and etc.
Various methods can be used to control manual systems. The widely known is RFID (Radio Frequency Identification).
In addition to that, a barcode or QR code system is used. Data received from these identification systems, are collected from receivers placed at starting ramp’s or in pass corridor’s, automatically reaches the system database.
By the time when the coordinates of the identified product or address reaches at the specific point in the warehouse the tower robot or the pallet shuttle finalizes the operation by matching the address + barcode information. At the same time, these data’s can be direcly sent to other warehouse software systems by using suitable software language to record.
ADVANTAGES OF AS/RS AUTOMATED STORAGE SYSTEMS
Depending on different type, specifications, handling weight and reach height, forklifts needs minimum of 3500 mm width to maneuver in a corridor.
In Back to Back Racking Systems for 2 pallets, 3.5mt corridor width is needed.
The width required for the pallet is 2.0mt. however, for maneuver minimum 3.5mt. must be reserved.
The ratio is 175%. In other words, the required lower width for the tower robot in the corridor of 3.5mt is maximum 1.5mt. thus 2.0mt. gain can be achieved in the warehouse.
In this case, there is a 60% to 90% area gain from the storage area. This is based upon warehouse height which is loaded with forklift. This height is maximum 9 meters.
In a high-altitude warehouse racking systems, the capacity increase steps up directly proportional to the height.
At intelligent warehouse systems, loading and unloading operation times decrease dramatically. The average velocity in both horizontal and vertical axis is about 30-90 meters per minute.
Instead intelligent warehouse systems, If we decide to do loading and unloading operations manually, it’s inevitable that there will be serious traffic and caos in the warehouse area. This situation is accompanied by certain risks.
Intelligent warehouse operation systems are carried out without human hands; if the system is properly designed at the beginning, if the right loading and unloading system accomplished and if no human error was present at the starting point, it is considered to be the best warehousing system solution.
When the logistics and storage processes of the companies using these systems are examined and compared with other systems, it can be concluded that there will be no obsticle to decrease productivity.
In intelligent warehouse systems, it is possible to instantly monitor the in-store circulation and to keep the operation processes on record, to share the collected data with other programs and to process the instant data sent by the system.
Through these good warehouse management systems practice, not only FIFO and LIFO, but also FEFO (First Expire date First Out) movements can also be tracked.
Although this important point is ignored by most users, however, it is vital criterion and priority especially for food and health industries.
Intelligent warehouse systems provide inventory optimization by maintaining "idle time", monitoring in-store movements of products in the warehouse even when the operation is actually stopped. This gives opportunity to make shipments and operations at the most appropriate timing.
It is a cost effective system.
The advantages of this system are high when the general expenses of the work machines in the other storage systems, operator expenses and other expenses based on the risk are calculated.
The advantage of this advantage can not be overlooked since the possibility of storing the storage area at high density using the floor area and height as maximum efficiency will save considerable construction costs.
Automated warehouse systems are often preferred for storage of large volumes and heavy loads where storage density is high due to insufficient space.
Wide range of applications at manufacturing companies and distribution centers.
Systems are mostly fully automated and unmanned.
As a result, high racking sensitivity is obtained.
We can summarize the benefits of Automated Warehouse Systems (AS / RS) as follows.
Fast and accurate shipment: The product is brought directly to the specific point to be processed. Walking, waiting, searching times are saved.
Order processing becomes 3-5 times faster. There will be no delays in delivery related commitments.
As a result of the vertical evaluation of the warehouse area, the storage areas descend to the lowest level.
Decrease in intermediate stocks: Product intermediate stocks are reduced. Excess inventory is avoided with high storage accuracy and top-tier warehouse management.
Real-time inventory control: Real-time inventory control is made by 100% accuracy level and current status info is always available by instant reporting.
Decrease in material handling costs
Reduced equipment maintenance and operating costs
Some of the areas where Automated Warehouse Systems (AS / RS) are frequently used are:
- Pharmaceutical industry
- Logistics sector
- Distribution stores
- Air cargo operations
- White goods / electronic product storage
- Auto parts