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Turning warehousing and order picking on its head

13 June 2024

Dematic solutions integrating AutoStore are scalable, compact and efficient.

WITH CUSTOMERS increasingly wanting customised orders to arrive faster by the day, the curse of the ’endless shelf’ can be conquered with the help of the modular order picking system combined with the automation warehousing expertise of Dematic.  

Dematic recently reached a global milestone with its 100th commissioning of an AutoStore system. “It has brought substantial benefits to our customers by boosting productivity, realising faster ROIs, and providing agile project delivery without interruption and Dematic brings a depth of expertise in this technology, which, I think, is matchless in our industry,” notes Simon Barnwell, vice president and market leader for the UK and Ireland at Dematic.   

Made up of five unique modules, AutoStore has been designed to work with standardised systems making it easy to install, simple to understand and flexible when it comes to expansions within your facility. 

The AutoStore warehousing and order picking system stores articles in a grid of rectangular containers similar to building blocks, creating a compact aluminum construction. No aisles are needed as articles are accessed from above by robots that move along the grid. 

The bin storage cube can be configured up to a height of six meters (approximately 20 feet). Taller storage heights are possible by building AutoStore subsystem structures on mezzanine platforms. There are no dedicated access aisles so the entire cube can be used to store product. Robots move along the top of the grid to access inventory stored in the bins below. The bins are put-away, retrieved and finally delivered to the ports or workstations as required. The mechanical system design omits a single point of failure that could stop the entire system material flow.

The system works at a reliable speed with items frequently ordered stored at the top and available within a few seconds while items less in demand are kept at the bottom yet accessible within minutes. On average, a robot can handle nearly 25 bins an hour and the number of robots can be increased or reduced as required. The seminal Dematic Multishuttle works along similar lines, where items which are low in demand are stored further toward the back.

The advantage for Dematic customers is that they can pick and choose from – or even combined with – existing Dematic solutions according to their specific requirements. AutoStore is based on standardised systems that can easily be combined with those used by Dematic.

“The system allows up to four times more stock to be stored on the same footprint, and the modular system means it can be used in any warehouse, regardless of shape or size,” explains Barnwell. 

Another key factor is software integration. 

The AutoStore Controller is the brain behind the product. You might say it is the system’s command centre. It provides machine control, directing the robots. It features put-away location management that optimises storage locations for efficient access — bins with SKUs that are used most often are stored near the top of the grid. While it is possible for the AutoStore Controller to interface with a custom WMS or WCS, the process often requires more time and labour from your business. 

For simple integration, Dematic provides warehouse execution software (WES) to interface between your host system and the AutoStore Controller. It provides benefits in overall operation and in the maintenance of the system.

Dematic Software also provides robust picking capabilities to suit e-commerce and omnichannel operations such as batch picking, wave picking and cluster picking. What’s more, thanks to the numerous interfaces made possible by Dematic Software, AutoStore systems can be easily integrated with a customer’s own logistics processes.

“It all boils down to the fact that we are a solutions provider,” Barnwell states, adding, “and we want to deliver the best solution based on a customer’s needs, whether it is with technologies we’ve developed ourselves, or with a system like AutoStore.”

For more information, visit dematic.com