6 steps to automating storage in your distribution center or factory

Daifuku offers automated storage and retrieval systems.
Automated storage and retrieval systems require advance preparation to deploy. Source: Daifuku

In today’s fast-paced world, manufacturers and warehouse operators understand the necessity of a robust, reliable, and optimized storage system. When storing inventory for customers or maintaining spare parts and materials for internal processes, implementing an automated storage and retrieval system, or ASRS, can save both time and money.

How does that work? We’ll cover that and more in this quick guide — you’ll learn what ASRS is, how it started, some ways it can help you, and steps to fully automate your storage facility.

What is ASRS?

ASRS is a technology to automatically place and retrieve loads from defined storage locations. It’s typically employed in facilities where there is high inventory movement, and a need for precise, rapid storage and retrieval.

The load types can range in size from cases or totes to full pallets. Smaller loads are typically handled with a shuttle and miniload technologies, while Daifuku’s unit-load systems can handle full pallets.

How ASRS works: These systems include racks, storage and retrieval equipment, and a warehouse management system (WMS) that is a software component.

The birth of ASRS: When we talk about ASRS, we can’t overlook the role played by Daifuku Intralogistics America. Since 1966, the company has made high-density pallet storage possible and helped businesses make the most of their available space.

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How ASRS can help your facility

To better understand why an automatic storage facility is desirable, here are some specific ways that an ASRS can help your facility.

Increased storage density: ASRS takes advantage of vertical space, allowing you to optimize your floor plan and enhance storage density. By optimizing current or future building space, products or parts can be stacked high, freeing up valuable floor space for other critical operations. Land costs can be reduced.

Reduced labor costs: ASRS reduces manual labor in the storage and retrieval process, leading to significant savings. With this added automation, you can focus on business-critical actions — you don’t have to worry about manually finding, picking, and sorting orders anymore.

Enhanced accuracy: With ASRS, errors in storage and retrieval are substantially reduced. The automated system can accurately track where everything is stored, preventing misplaced items, and ensuring the right goods are retrieved every time.

Increased safety: ASRS can eliminate the need for employees to carry heavy loads or use ladders to retrieve items from high shelves, reducing the risk of workplace accidents and promoting a safer environment for your staff. It also reduces the need for fork trucks to move around your warehouse, reducing the number of accidents.

Improved inventory control: ASRS offer real-time inventory data, making stock management easier. Accurate forecasting and elimination of manual inventory counts lead to operational efficiency. This system can help you understand exactly how much product you have at any given time.

Steps to automate a self-storage facility with ASRS

The process of automating your storage facility with an ASRS involves several key steps, from consultation and planning to design, manufacturing, installation, and ongoing support. Here’s a brief overview:

Step 1: Consultation

The process begins with a detailed consultation to understand your specific needs, the type of inventory you handle, the volume of your operations, and your storage areas’ physical characteristics. The consultation process also allows for a deeper understanding of your current systems, challenges, and goals for the future.

Step 2: Planning and engineering

Based on the consultation, the next step involves careful planning and engineering.The ASRS should be tailored to your specific operations and designed tomaximize efficiency and space usage while reducing labor costs. Planning alsoincludes determining the necessary equipment and technology for your facility.

Step 3: ASRS design

The design phase involves creating a custom layout for your ASRS, taking into account your facility’s specific dimensions and unique operational needs. The goal is to design a system that integrates seamlessly into your existing operations.

Step 4: Manufacturing

Once the design is finalized, the next step is the actual production of the ASRS. This involves the manufacturing of all required components, such as storage racks, automated storage/retrieval machines, and the controlling software. Quality assurance is a vital part of this phase to ensure reliable performance of the system.

Step 5: Installation and training

After manufacturing, the system is then installed in your facility. This includes setting up the physical equipment, as well as the installation of the software systems that control the ASRS. Key steps in a successful handoff to the customer include equipment and controls commissioning, system start-up and testing, as well as training for operations and maintenance.

Step 6: Support

Even after the installation, ongoing support is critical for the smooth functioning of the ASRS. This could include regular system checks, troubleshooting, and maintenance services. Support also involves training, so your staff knows how to use the system effectively.

Why choose Daifuku’s ASRS?

Among the ASRS options available, Daifuku has a long track record. Our system allows for reliable high-speed retrieval and storage of items, streamlining your operations. The company can help customers through the full process and provide support after the installation.

Daifuku said its ASRS systems use advanced methods to store items in the most space-efficient way possible. This can maximize the use of available space within your current or future facility, creating more room for your business to grow. It’s not just about storage; it’s about ensuring your operations run at peak performance.

Written by

Cecile Dick-Calmes

Cécile Dick-Calmès is content marketing manager at Daifuku Intralogistics America. She previously worked as community manager at Boeing and digital markeiing lead at Hainan Airlines.

At Daifuku, Dick-Calmès builds the company's customer base using targeted content to support sales team conversion activities. She holds a dual master's degree in marketing and communications from the ISCOM School of Communication and a master's degree from the INSEEC Business School in Paris.

Dick-Calmès also received a certification in digital marketing strategies from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management. She recently graduated with an M.B.A. Essentials Certificate from the London School of Economics and Political Science.