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The world-class warehouse will not be just an empty room for storage of commodities, but a distribution action hub where value addition of goods will be extensive. In the establishment of such a warehouse requires inbuilt loading and offloading points which separates docks and cranes within the warehouse system. The reception area should be independent of other areas for further preparation of goods to be stored for instance, through blending and sorting. The storage areas offer a room for light products to be stacked together while the heavy ones are put into unit loads. The dispatch areas are located aside to facilitate movement and speed of operations. The warehouse layout also allows for service areas where workers can carry out their duties such as bathing and exchange. Besides, the warehouse applies automated storage and retrieval system (AR/RS) which offers compact facilities of storage.
The highly automated warehouse should also use overall order picking operations which embrace the light, voice picking and, mobile scanner systems. For unitization, strapping and stretch wrapping techniques will be applied. The packaging methods are plastic and corrugated cardboard techniques. Also, the warehouse adopts standard labeling techniques. Due to their speed and accuracy, Automated Guiding Vehicles (AGV) and industrial robots will be used in the handling of materials within the warehouse. The warehouse should also use an independent executive system which is the highest level of management information system and guides in the setting of appropriate reports and even in providing a comprehensive summary on the effectiveness and nature of work within the warehouse. The monitoring system will be monitored through a network of wireless sensors which are useful in eliminating challenges of low quality.
Conservatively, the perception on warehouse was that it was a large box for long-term storage of surplus inventory (Accorsi and Manzini, 2014). However, in the contemporary world standpoint, warehouses are emerging as distribution action hubs which adds value to goods through processing, rather than storage. Value addition services are labor intensive, and thus, there arises a need to focus on operational and production efficiency of the warehouse. Hence, the initial planning stages of the warehouse are essential for compatibility of constructional techniques, architectural design and, functional proficiency (Accorsi and Manzini, 2014). Delayed adjustments and after-formation rework in accommodating necessities for operational efficiency are time-consuming, interruptive and, more expensive than designing the features before construction begins. To illustrate, automatic dock levelers are extortionate despite the time of their installation (Accorsi and Manzini, 2014). However, their cost is highest if installed after the initial construction is complete. The research work is a presentation of features of the ideal warehouse which includes; layout, storage systems, picking operations, unitization, level of management information system, and level of automation together with effective monitoring system.
The layout of the Warehouse
For elimination of detours, terminals should be built within the warehouse for easy loading and offload of commodities as illustrated in Appendix 1. The common platform separates the docks which connect the trucks and cranes into the warehouse. The separation is necessary for ease handling of hardware goods and in meeting the safety standards of the premise (Roodbergen, 2015). The access points should have an automated system that moderates a low barrier that can fold up thus opening when the truck enters the building and closes up when operations are through. The automated system should be incorporated with inflatable shelters that features tunnels that surrounds the vehicle when it accesses the entrance, to eliminate compromise from external conditions (Roodbergen, 2015). Consequently, efficient loading and offloading points will ease access into and out of the warehouse.
For sorting purposes, acquisition of goods and quality control, the reception area should have an independent location from the other components of the warehouse as evident in Appendix 1. Within reception areas, an appropriate area should be set aside for separating parts of hardware goods that are strapped together or, for breaking the bulk to ease storage of products (Accorsi and Manzini, 2014). For accurate positioning, accurate checking and the anticipated future performance of the warehouse, the reception area should be separate and as large as possible. The scanners should process the entry information of the stored goods through their barcodes hence, immediately the central computer identifies the units of the commodities, it generates their position labels (Accorsi and Manzini, 2014). The forklift operator can therefore effectively read the codes for collect positioning and location of goods within the warehouse system.
The areas are necessary for storage and preservation of goods. The nature of hardware goods, the ability to stock them and, their high storage quantity requires the commodities to be kept and stacked directly on the ground (Roodbergen, 2015). Storage of products within stacks should comprise of positioning the unit loads on each other thus facilitating to proper space utilization and minimization of area wastages as evident in Appendix 1 (Roodbergen, 2015). However, care should be taken not to exceed the maximum possible stacking height. Besides, for goods that are not heavy enough to be stacked onto each other, space should be left in the storage area to allow racking of goods (Roodbergen, 2015). Metal structures should enforce the racking areas with appropriate beams and braced frames.
The areas are set aside for packing the orders after their preparation in the previous stages. The area is necessary for storage of goods that needs to be dispatched into the distribution or delivery trucks. The dispatch areas require proper location and separation from the rest of the connection to facilitate suitable movement speed within the warehouse (Roodbergen, 2015). Besides, the dispatch areas need to be designed in particular positions as illustrated in Appendix 1. For enhancement of an active flow of goods and movement of vehicles, the dispatch and reception areas should be adjacent to each other. Consequently, an economical and single loading and offloading space are created (Roodbergen, 2015).
Service areas are designed in strategic locations to offer support activities in the warehouse. Such activities include; exchange rooms, management office, bathrooms and, areas of maintenance for the handling of equipment and machines (Jacyna and Lewczuk, 2015). The ideal location for service areas is between dispatch and reception points for it offers greater efficiency and operability in the work of workers in the departments (Jacyna and Lewczuk, 2015). A mezzanine should be constructed over the dispatch and reception areas to pool the resources and offer a solution for the need of changing rooms and bathrooms (Jacyna and Lewczuk, 2015). Service rooms should be well ventilated and isolated for improvement of safety and health and in avoiding any occurrence of danger occurring at this point.
Type of Storage Systems
The warehouse should adopt an automated storage and retrieval system (AR/RS). The system offers compact storage that utilizes the available space in the most economical way (Gagliardi and Renaud, 2015). AR/AS effectively performs through integrating the software and hardware for accurate replenishment and picking. The system automatically identifies and deliver the appropriate inventory to a conveyor method, ergonomic operative station or manual outfeed (Gagliardi and Renaud, 2015). Thus, the main reason for advocating for AR/AS is because it leads to a reduction of labor costs, inventory levels, floor space and, increase productivity and accuracy of manual storage systems (Jacyna and Lewczuk, 2015). In AR/RS, a computer should determine the storage area where items should be retrieved from. The system should be supplemented with automated conveyors and guided trucks which moves goods into and out of their areas of storage and take them to the loading docks (Gagliardi and Renaud, 2015).
As illustrated in Appendix 2, storage or retrieval machine serves several storage isles. The storage racks of the aisles stores hold the material stored while the stowage and retrieval machines deliver and retrieve items into and out of the inventory. Among the components of the AS/AR system, the three-dimensional storage space in the storage racks keeps unit loads of the materials (Gagliardi and Renaud, 2015). The bay is the height of the storage rack which starts from the floor and rises to the ceiling. The work of the storage modules is to hold the inventory items which includes the hardware commodities (Jacyna and Lewczuk, 2015). The blades should be designed to a standard base size that eases storage in the structure. Also, the inventory should be transferred into and out of the AS/AS through the pickup and deposit stations which are designed at the end of the aisle to enable easy access by the machines from the external management system (Gagliardi and Renaud, 2015).
The warehouse should embrace a comprehensive order picking operations. Automatic picking process of commodities should entail a series of methods which provides selection tools together with data obtained on establishing communication and informational technologies (Razumov, 2015). Among factors to be considered in the establishment of the order picking process, activity profiling receive consideration which consists of product movement on lines, unit packed or cases. While establishing order picking process, effective slotting method should be considered which entails calculating the number of locations and facings appropriate for each commodity (Razumov, 2015). The design for the pick zone and its layout should be integrated with outbound, and inbound merchandise flows.
The comprehensive warehouse automatic order picking system should embrace; pick to light, voice picking and, mobile scanner systems (Razumov, 2015). The pick to the light system comprises of light setup and barcode scanner. The order picker would image a barcode and then guide it to the appropriate area of the warehouse through the illumination of LED lights (Razumov, 2015). For voice picking system, the pickers would have headsets to enable reception of instructions on what to select and where to place it. The selectors should verbally affirm completion of their tasks back to the system through a microphone (Razumov, 2015). The process is useful since it allows the pickers to use both hands on actual picking and, eliminate paperwork within the system. Besides, the quality mobile scanner should complement the picking system. The methods are useful since they can avail to the pickers order lists, optimum walking route, accurate and quicker order scanning and picking (Razumov, 2015).
Unitization, Packaging, and Labelling
The warehouse should adopt strapping and stretch wrapping methods of unitization. In a strapping way, a metal, plastic or polythene band should be used to hold units of commodities together (Singh and Cernokus, 2014). The strapping will be done manually using hands or through appropriate machines. In stretch wrapping, the process comprises of various wraps of shawls that are tied around product units to keep them close together to ensure transportation that is danger-free. The stretch wrapper machines or tools and hands will be used to wrap the products together (Singh and Cernokus, 2014). Thus, both stretch wrapping and strapping techniques will not only help to tie units together but also in facilitating their safety during transportation to their desired destinations.
The warehouse should also use plastic and corrugated cardboard packaging methods. To justify the choice for plastic packaging system, it is lightweight, can safeguard the commodity and, minimizes the amount of waste into residential landfills (Alkhatib and Darlington, 2015). Corrugated cardboard should be used as an efficient exterior packaging due to its lightweight, strength, and recyclability. Besides, there is ease of printing information onto corrugated cardboard such as barcodes and tags. The cardboard container should contain organic material, starch glue or paper which adds to recyclability implying that there should not be any need of dumping the residual packaging material in the landfill (Alkhatib and Darlington, 2015).
The warehouse should use standard labeling technique. The method starts with the identification of barcode schemes and legible inventory data (Alkhatib and Darlington, 2015). The next step should evaluate the label materials for both inventory methods and locations. The practice is justifiable since it allows for usage of labels that withstands harsh environmental conditions such as high temperatures. Basic labeling protocols such as printing and placement of labels at keen areas where identifiable colors are used would ease identification of items in the bulk locations (Alkhatib and Darlington, 2015). The labeling methods should be standardized across all the inventory and vendors should be notified of the method before reaching the facility. Mobile printers will be used to reduce distance and travel time thus saving on money and time.
Materials Handling Equipment System
The warehouse should use automated material handling which features Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) and industrial robots. AGV system uses embedded floor wires which guides driverless vehicles to multiple areas in the plant (Digani and Sabattini, 2015). The AGVs uses modern microprocessor technology to direct a vehicle to move a prescribed pathway and also in making corrections whenever the automobile strays. The system controller would receive commands directly from the computer and, communicate with other automobiles. For circumvention of collisions, effective communication will be appropriate for AGVs (Digani and Sabattini, 2015). Among the AGVs, pallet trucks should be used to lift, maneuver and carry palletized cargo. Besides, forklift trucks would be used to pick up and place palletized loads in both on stands and on floor levels. However, the light load transporters will be used in handling light, small loads over a short distance and distribute the components between the number of work centers and storage.
The industrial robots should be used to substitute for human labor in areas that are hazardous and uncomfortable situations. The use of industrial robots is justifiable since they can be reprogrammed (Digani and Sabattini, 2015). Upon completion of a task, a robot can be reprogrammed and furnished with appropriate tool sand commands for performing another different task. Industrial robots will be used in material handling, transfer and, in terminals operations. In material handling operations, robots will be used to pick up commodities from one point to another (Digani and Sabattini, 2015). In material transfer, robots will be used to retrieve cartons, parts or any other items from one point and place them in a container with multiple locations. At loading and offloading operations, robots should be used during reception and release of goods from their relative positions. The barcodes of items will be processed within the robot to enable the practical location of objects.
An Appropriate Level of Warehouse Management Information Systems
The warehouse should adopt an independent executive system which masters the process of data gathering from various sources and that of processing thus according to appropriate information on the requirements of users. The management information system is capable of compiling, processing, and evaluating organized data (Sousa and Oz, 2014). The system offers a set of appropriate reports offering a comprehensive summary of the nature and effectiveness of the warehouse (Sousa and Oz, 2014). The output reports give necessary data on the serviceability, current and historical nature of the operation areas which includes inventory, service level and sales (Sousa and Oz, 2014). It is justifiable to use the independent executive system since it offers relevant background information on the warehouse management for logical decisions grounded on the accurate and currently available data.
Level of Automation in Warehouse Operations
The warehouse would use the fourth level of automation which is high-speed, fully automated and features Greenfield installations such as combination of high density, AS/AR, widespread sortation and conveyor, case palletizing and layer picking (Jacobus and Beach, 2015). Consequently, the automation system would account for all the commodities in the inventory. However, only the slow-medium-moving Stock Keeping Units (SKU) will be stored in stagnant shelves which are within the AS/RS, whereas the fast-moving SKUs will be kept in flow rack (Jacobus and Beach, 2015). To utilize useful slotting software to a group such as automatic order release, products with slower commodity should be kept in highly dense AR/RS. The practice is to allow various orders with slower moving items to be processed faster for the exact amount. The reason for advocating for this system lies in its ability to pick rates between 150 to 450 lines per hour (Jacobus and Beach, 2015).
Warehouse Monitoring System
The warehouse would apply wireless sensors and storage capacity monitoring. The system comprises of a wide range of evaluations to ensure effective operations (Prabhu et al., 2014). Wireless sensors are effective in eliminating the issues of low quality and also eradicates the costly waste regarding residue and time usage. The method offers extra monitoring in packaging, storage areas and, shipment materials which are appropriate in the prevention of losses during supply due to light exposure, water and temperature (Prabhu et al., 2014). Also, the wireless sensors monitor isolated areas for unanticipated visitors and, offer occupancy regulated lighting. The monitoring system is justifiable since, after the initial installation and setup, it readily scales with extra sensors as the needs evolve (Prabhu et al., 2014).
The inbuilt facilities are necessary for active operations of a warehouse. For an ideal world-class warehouse, the terminals should be inbuilt to ensure active loading and offloading of commodities. Besides, the reception should be independent of the other areas to facilitate the proper scanning of goods and their storage in the necessary areas of the warehouse system. The storage areas should have distinct facilities required for adequate storage of goods. Also, the dispatch areas should be in a strategic position to enhance the packaging of products, and the employees should be provided with service areas for their personal needs. The world-class warehouse should also adopt AR/RS, embrace a comprehensive order picking operations and use automated material handling tools such as an industrial robot. The highly automated warehouse also uses wireless sensors for the monitoring of activities and, an independent executive system that allows for data processing and release of appropriate information.
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Appendix 1: The Layout of the Warehouse
A. The terminals
B. Reception Area
C. Storage Area
D. Dispatch Area
Appendix 2: Storage and Retrieval System
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