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ASRS and E-commerce

E-commerce ushered in an era of ever-changing order demand, as online and mobile shoppers expected to be able to purchase any product at any time. Constant fluctuations make it difficult for companies to predict what they will sell on any given day. The rate of change in inventory units (SKUs) required to fulfill an order can vary by up to 85% from day to day. This fluctuating demand for SKUs complicates picking operations and slows down the fulfillment process as workers have to travel between warehouses to pick the requested products.

Because retailers had a better understanding of what consumers buy regularly, they were able to take action to place high-demand SKUs in more accessible locations. These “forward picking areas” store its frequently ordered SKUs, reducing picking time and expediting order processing.

However, e-commerce demand is highly variable, so forward pick areas need to be continually changed to accommodate fluctuations in demand for items. The ensuing process of constantly rearranging SKUs not only ultimately defeats the purpose of the front picking area, but also requires additional manpower just to keep up with demand for inventory turnarounds.

If you’re doing high-volume e-commerce operations, ASRS is the best solution. An automated storage and retrieval system integrated with robots provide an ideal solution for meeting the fluctuating SKU demand inherent in today’s e-commerce fulfillment. Craftsman’s ASRS shuttle utilizes a unique configuration that allows shuttles to be shared between levels coupled with algorithmic logic for product movement given by Craftsman’s Warehouse Management System. This makes it the closest approach to giving equal accessibility to all SKUs inside a system.

Another benefit of ASRS is that it can be used to support goods-to-person order fulfillment stations. In such an operation, ASRS retrieves the SKUs required to fulfill the order from storage and delivers them to the workstation’s order picker. A goods-to-person approach for picking reduces worker movement throughout the warehouse and expedites order fulfillment.

Using the Goods-to-Persons Station in conjunction with the Craftsman’s ASRS Shuttle eliminates the need for forward picking areas and all associated replenishment/rescheduling tasks associated with picking area maintenance. The goods- to-people operations supported by ASRS are so efficient that manual picking, replenishment, and inventory management manpower can be reduced by up to two-thirds.

The labor force reductions that are experienced as a result of integrating an automated storage and retrieval system into a fulfillment operation often enable a company to recover its investment in a few years, even though an ASRS does require initial capital expenditure.

However, the need for an automated storage and retrieval system isn’t solely supported by lower labor costs. An ASRS not only controls SKU demand fluctuations but also speeds up the fulfillment process, allowing e-commerce and omnichannel businesses to meet order delivery deadlines. This, in turn, builds customer loyalty and produces the numerous revenue-generating advantages that come with it.

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