Automated Warehouse Picking

getting products to customers quickly and accurately is essential for businesses

  • Written by Alex Dolce
  • Published on September 6, 2023
  • Time to read 9 minutes


In today’s fast-paced eCommerce world, getting products to customers quickly and accurately is essential for businesses. But how can businesses do this better? Enter automated warehouse picking. Businesses can transform their warehouses into efficient automation hubs using advanced technologies and intelligent systems. 

In this blog, we’ll look into the world of automated warehouse picking; exploring what it is, how it works, and why it matters. By the end, you will have the knowledge and ability to decide which automated picking methods will be best for your business, products, and warehouse. So, let’s dive right in!

What is Automated Warehouse Picking?

Automated warehouse picking means using machines and technology to get items from storage spots in a warehouse without people doing it. Thus, this helps make things faster and more accurate when sending out orders, which is really important for overall efficiency in today’s eCommerce business environment.

Advantages of Automated Warehouse Picking:

There are many great ways in which automated warehouse picking helps your business. So, let’s go over the benefits this technology brings:

• Efficiency: Automated systems work around the clock. Therefore, orders are picked and packed swiftly.

• Reduced Labor Costs: Robots and intelligent systems reduce the need for human intervention. Thus, they also cut down on labor expenses.

• Accuracy: Advanced technologies reduce errors. So, they lead to correct orders and satisfied customers.

• Faster Order Processing: Automation speeds up picking, packing, and shipping operations. Therefore, they ensure timely deliveries.

Things to Keep in Mind:

Of course, implementing automated warehouse picking comes with challenges. Some things to consider include initial costs, system integration, employee training, and ongoing maintenance. However, with proper planning and execution, these challenges can be overcome.

Let’s move on to the technologies you can use to automate your warehouse picking.

Automated, picking robotic arms are shown in a 3pl warehouse

Key Technologies and Systems:

Since many different systems can be involved in warehouse picking, let’s take a look at each and what they are best for:

Robotic Systems: 

These systems involve robots that have sensors, cameras, and grippers. Thus, they can identify, grasp, and move items. These robots and systems are suitable for:

• A wide range of products can accommodate various sizes and shapes.

• Handling different packaging types, like boxes and irregular shapes.

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs): 

These are robots that can move around. Also, they transport items based on predefined paths or sensor navigation. They are effective for:

• Moving goods within the warehouse, including raw materials

• Handling different packaging types, such as pallets and containers.

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS):

These involve machinery, conveyors, and vertical lift modules that retrieve items from high-density storage. So, this system is ideal for:

• Industries with numerous SKUs and limited space.

• Items in standardized containers or bins.

Pick-to-Light and Put-to-Light Systems:

These systems use visual cues, like lights, to guide human pickers to the correct location of items. Therefore, this reduces errors while picking products. This is excellent for:

• Order picking for e-commerce and distribution centers.

• Items stored in shelves or bins with small packaging.

Goods-to-Person Systems:

This involves items being brought to pickers through conveyors or shuttles. So, this optimizes order picking. These systems work well for:

• High-order-volume industries, as it reduces picker movement.

• Handling items stored in standardized containers or bins.

Computer Vision and Machine Learning:

In this method, cameras and AI identify items for guided picking. This method is excellent for:

• Industries with complex inventories and visual identifiers.

• Various packaging types through visual recognition.

Voice Picking:

This system is where voice commands are used to guide pickers via headsets. From there, they listen to the instructions to find items. This is great for:

• Hands-free operations. Therefore, this enhances efficiency and accuracy.

• Various product types with clear verbal descriptions.

Pick-and-Pack Robots:

With this method, robots pick and pack items for order fulfillment. So, human labor is not needed. This method is good for:

• Streamlining e-commerce and fulfillment centers.

• Smaller items with consistent shapes and sizes.

Need a Warehouse? eHub Can Help

Overall, the future of automated warehouse picking is bright. Also, advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics are on the horizon. If you want to stay on top of these changes, you might need a 3PL to help you. Many 3PLs already have these picking technologies, so you can use them when working with your 3PL. 

But how do you know which 3PL best matches your business and products? Try eHub! We match your business and needs to one of our many vetted 3PLs within our network so you can get the best possible fit for fulfilling your products.

Wrapping Things Up

All in all, automated warehouse picking isn’t just a buzzword – it’s a game-changer. So, by embracing these advanced technologies, businesses can significantly improve their operations, deliver faster results, and create a smoother customer experience. While challenges exist, the benefits far outweigh them. 

So, whether you’re a business owner looking to optimize operations or a consumer eagerly awaiting your next order, automated warehouse picking is set to reshape how goods reach their destinations.

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