Gather around youngins, while Grandfather Warehouse explains the riveting history of tech in the fulfillment and distribution industry. No it will not be boring, it includes robots. Besides, you just spent an hour watching homesteaders on TikTok. Don’t tell me you don’t have time.
The time was a few decades ago when pick and pack operations were done by hand and with paper. In some ways this was a more glorious time, when companies could actually purchase paper, and consumers were willing to wait longer than 2 hours for an order to be shipped. But it was also a time without Wordle or Harry Styles. So was it really better? Who can tell.
A picker would receive a paper order, walk to the aisle where the product was, pick it, and deliver it to the packing station. Inventory, order status, and other valuable info was marked on that paper, and then chiseled into the ancient stone WMS. It was a functional system for the time.
But as ecommerce grew, and stone chisels became harder to come by, we knew we needed a faster and more accurate way of doing things. Enter the Radio Frequency Scanner, or RF Scanner for short (that’s right, you weren’t the first generation to shorten words, we like to abbreviate too!)
With RF Scanners, pickers were able to see their orders on screen, and simply scan a barcode to fulfill orders and track inventory. The scanners were connected to the now digital WMS, and data was recorded right away. Praise Be!
There were, of course, still some downfalls. Pickers still had to walk to the product location and deliver it to packing. And this was before Heelys, Airpods or foam shoe inserts, so walking was a real drag. Also there were often issues with inventory tracking, and a picker might go to a product location and realize there wasn’t enough to fulfill the order. Lame.
So while the system was faster than paper, it still wasn’t fast enough to keep up with that online textbook company that was beginning to sell other things like toilet paper and spaceships. So Grandfather Warehouse had to find something different, something better. Which brings us to…the robots.
Remember when you were in school and had a backpack that weighed more than you? And as you slogged down the halls like the Hunchback of Notre Dame you thought “I really wish I had a robot to carry all this crap for me?” Warehouse robots were invented to carry your crap.
The robots (or bots for short, you know we love abbreviations. Or brevs) can navigate an entire warehouse on their own. They are given a series of orders, and then they travel to each product location. No more walking for the pickers! They just have to load up the robots, and send them packing, I mean, off to the packing department.
The bots are more than just transport carriers. They tie directly to the WMS and keep impeccable track of inventory. They improve accuracy and make the pickers’ jobs easier by speaking multiple languages and showing photos of inventory. They provide real time data reporting on how many orders are being filled, which allows managers to see if the team is on track to meet specific client goals. They quickly identify problems so they can be resolved without significant delay. They are amazing, and we love them.
So there you have it. A brief history on warehouse operations, and a glimpse at how totally rad the robots are. If you’d like to see them in action, we’d love to have you out for a visit. I’d say give us a call at 800-468-6100, but I know how adverse you young ones are to chit chat on the talk box. So you can also email us [email protected] or send us an Instagram message @thedotcorp.