With the growing importance of each picking, companies really should explore horizontal carousels, Romaine says. Many company executives, however, may be slow to do so simply because they are used to shipping pallets.
"The reality is that not that long ago, each picking wasn't really happening with some organizations," Romaine says. "They were used to and good at shipping pallets." But with the internet changing both customers' buying habits and retailers' fulfillment methods, each picking has become standard. "All of a sudden, organizations that never each-picked before are having to do it."
Of course, that means that a lot of the material handling equipment they relied on before no longer works. "They need to think of new technologies and new ways. And that's where horizontal carousels come into play."
Having said that, each company's need is different, so a one-size-fits-all approach won't work, Romaine warns. There are industries that are slow-moving in terms of the need to fill orders - or they may be under the gun to provide quick fulfillment. "It depends on the industry because one industry's fast is another industry's slow, and vice versa. What happens is, each industry is treated differently, but the optimization and benefits that each company gets from use of horizontal carousels is tremendous."
Not surprisingly, Romaine is upbeat about the equipment's return on investment. In fact, he says, it's simply the "most cost-effective form of automation that you can find in the material handling world."
He says ROI in 9 to 18 months is common, the equipment can save up to 66 percent of floor space, and labor costs can be reduced by two thirds or so.
Two other areas are important, he says. First, control systems built into the carousels give real-time reports on maintenance needs and power consumption. Second, while the equipment has always been used for order picking, it's becoming highly useful in order consolidation now, especially for companies that don't have the money to invest in miles of conveyors and diverts.
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Keywords: Warehouse Logistics, Value-Added Services, Third-Party Logistics, Logistics, Online Commerce, Multi-channel Fulfillment, ASRS Systems, Conveyor Systems
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