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Warehouse Automation Technology for Productivity, Accuracy and Safety

By ·Categories: Tech Explained·Published On: June 16th, 2021·3.3 min read·

Warehouse automation technology is designed to improve workflow in warehouse operations. Unquestionably, businesses are under enormous pressure to increase warehouse worker productivity, improve accuracy, and ensure safety for all. Achievement of these goals can reduce expenses, a key factor in gaining a competitive advantage in today’s business environment.  Automation tools are becoming more and more readily available for every workflow in a warehouse.

Hardware Requirements for Warehouse Automation

A warehouse is a unique business environment and therefore requires a unique solution that can address the following factors:

  • Temperature fluctuation
    • Clearly a warehouse is not as temperature controlled as an office or home environment. That means the hardware must withstand temperature fluctuations that can sometimes dip below freezing or rise into the triple digits. 
  • Mounting flexibility 
    • For flexibility and usability, hardware may have to be installed on a forklift, a truck or on a shelf. It’s useful when your technology solution can be mounted in a variety of locations. This includes hard to reach or dangerous locations.
  • Reliability
    • Since the hardware may be mounted in a hard to reach or dangerous location, reliability is paramount. It may not be easily accessible for repair or replacement. In addition, look for auto power on features since you may have trouble accessing it after a power failure.
  • Power Options
    • When the hardware is mounted in a hard to reach or dangerous location, reliability is paramount. It may not be easily accessible for repair or replacement. Auto power-on features are very helpful here, since you may have trouble accessing it after a power failure.
  • Airborne Contaminants
    • Despite efforts to keep a warehouse environment clean, it is inevitably more dusty than an office environment. Because of this, airborne particulates can get inside of a computer if it doesn’t have ingress protection. Fanless and ventless PCs keep the electronic components safe from the impact of dust and airborne debris.
  • Vibration
    • Since shelves and trucks can vibrate, your hardware solution needs to be vibration resistant. Make sure your warehouse automation hardware is solid state with no moving parts.

Other factors including connectivity and software requirements can be reviewed in our blog about the best PCs for smart warehousing and logistics.

Warehouse Automation Example: Pallet Stacking

Loading a pallet may initially seem like a simple task of stacking boxes. However, this seemingly basic task is far from simple: Lack of attention or knowledge can result in damaged products and employee injury. In fact, some of the injuries can be severe, or even fatal, when a fully loaded pallet topples. Properly stacking pallets is a skill that can take months of training. That’s where warehouse automation for pallet stacking comes in.

Stack Assist Tool for Pallet Stacking

SAT Technologies created a warehouse automation tool to assist in the process of pallet stacking. The Stack Assist Tool (SAT) combines machine vision with a visual display on an HMI (Human Machine Interface). The HMI provides visual instructions for the employee to stack the pallet. To top it off, laser guidance directs the employee for precise stacking. The end result is increased productivity, lower costs and higher, safer stacking of products.

OnLogic Rugged Panel PC for Warehouse Automation 

OnLogic worked with SAT Technologies to help them find the perfect rugged panel PC solution. With their warehouse automation requirements in mind, including resistance to vibration, temperature fluctuation and dust, SAT Technologies chose a Cincoze Rugged Panel PC. Importantly, it could be mounted on an order pick truck in a distribution center or combined with an Automated Guided Vehicle. The panel displays color coded stacking instructions showing an optimized stack. Meanwhile, an overhead laser projects a visual indicator of next item placement for the employee.

Check out our customer story to learn more about SAT Technologies.  Are you working on your own warehouse automation project? Download our Ultimate Guide to Choosing an Industrial Computer and contact our expert sales engineering team today

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About the Author: Sarah Lavoie

Sarah Lavoie is a content creator for OnLogic. When not writing, she can usually be found exploring the Vermont landscape with her camera looking to photograph something amazing.