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How to Get an Efficient Warehouse Without a Big Budget and High-Level Automation

Less automated "standard" material handling solutions are perfect for new or smaller companies that do not require highly automated DCs. Klaus Wurm, vice president and managing director of Schaefer Systems, discusses the benefits of integrating standard elements to help such companies get their products to market quickly without big investments or lengthy implementations.

“A lot of start-up companies have a great product and a presence on the internet, but they are not Amazon,” says Wurm. Schaefer helps such companies put together traditional material handling equipment to form a complete system that can handle complex picking challenges, he says.

“With standard solutions, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” says Wurm. “You integrate off-the-shelf, proven products that can be up and running in two to three months, which means you can start filling orders and making money.”

Standard elements can be combined in a way to handle even complex picking situations, he says. “We might use shelving and carton flow racks for fast moving products, often referred to as A movers; we would put B movers in a vertical lift module; and we would put slower, C movers, into a multi-level shelving system,” Wurm explains. Conveyers can be used to move product from pick zone to pick zone or from one work station to another in an assembly process, he says. “For these situations, we created a new conveyor system that does not require any IT interface.”

Such an integrated combination can be implemented in as little as three months, whereas a typical implementation of more sophisticated automation can take 9 to 12 months, he says. “We are trying to get this type of customer into the market faster with standard solutions. The goal is to help customers with something that is already proved, doesn’t have to be field tested and can be up and running as quickly as possible without high investment or a lot of risk.”

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