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Establishing how to run an efficient warehouse may seem straightforward at first. However, warehouse managers currently face unprecedented post-pandemic challenges, including increasing workforce shortages and high consumer demand.   

Warehouse automation represents a solution to these challenges, bringing improved efficiency, better pick rate, and the potential for rapid scalability. If you want to run an efficient warehouse, here’s how automation can help you. 

1. Set Up a Warehouse Management System 

A warehouse management system (WMS) or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with a robust WMS module increases efficiency by indicating optimum pick-up and put-away methods. These systems also create automated pick lists for mobile devices. With the appropriate WMS for your company, transaction accuracy will improve, and picking errors will decrease. 

Ensure that you choose a WMS that can easily integrate with other IT and automation systems and consider investing in cloud-based solutions to avoid future upgrade and integration issues. The WMS should meet your activity requirements such as packing, stock control, put-away, and returns. Establish your output requirements regarding dispatch documentation, management reports, labeling, and KPI monitoring; make sure the WMS is appropriate for your needs. 

2. Introduce Barcode Scanning 

Labeling your products with barcodes makes inventory identification easier and reduces costly errors. Stock-keeping units (SKUs) are usually included with barcodes, making individual product identification more straightforward. 

Begin with an audit of your current products, sorted into categories, with appropriate additional detail when necessary. You will also need to generate and print barcodes, scan them, and decode each barcode’s information. Once implemented, a barcode scanning system saves time, reduces mistakes, and improves traceability.  

A woman scanning a barcode on a box

3. Optimize Inventory Management 

Without an efficient inventory management system, costly errors inevitably increase as a business grows. Technological advances such as inventory drones and robots can reduce errors with radio-frequency identification (RFID) and barcode scanners for inventory tracking. When utilized in tandem with employee training and with the correct labor and process systems in place, robotic solutions help to promote efficient warehouse management. 

4. Increase Warehouse Visibility 

Warehouse managers must accurately forecast supply, demand, and inventory. As automated solutions are adopted, companies increase their warehouse activity awareness.  

Many automation solutions provide advanced data analytics and order optimization software. Integrating these into a WMS or Warehouse Execution System (WES) can provide a single source of record for all automated data streams, enabling operations to effectively monitor, manage, and measure each system.  
Another option to consider is a digital twin system. A digital twin provides a virtual sandbox; a digital replica where new ideas are tested and improved before launch in the real world. Real-time data identifies areas for streamlining within warehouse operations. The digital twin is set to be the next significant advancement in technological supply chain management. 

 5. Reduce Safety Risks 

Standard warehouse operations traditionally involve high-risk activities, including heavy pallet handling and forklift truck operation. Workers can become quite skilled at repetitive tasks, but accidents will inevitably happen sometimes. Even minor incidents cost companies tens of thousands; the average cost of each forklift accident is $188,000. 
With automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), high-risk material handling tasks can be automated, thus eliminating risks for warehouse employees. Where employees are involved, automation brings the products to the employee. The resultant reduction in human traffic minimizes product damage and improves warehouse safety. 

6. Improve Product Identification and Sorting 

Installing an automated sortation system that automatically identifies and sorts products will streamline warehouse operations. The resultant decrease in order handling will lessen growth constraints for your business. This automation sortation system can direct products to various warehouse locations, including: 

  • Shipping station 
  • Packing station 
  • Picking zone 
  • Returns and QA/QC processing zone 
Boxes moving on a conveyor belt

7. Invest in Material Handling Automation Solutions  

You need not disrupt all your operations with costly ASRS or other massive infrastructure investments. Start automating the movement of goods in your facility to quickly find ways of making your existing labor more productive.  

Autonomous mobile robots (think AGV 2.0) are incredibly flexible next-generation automation solutions; they adapt quickly to any operation. Advanced AMR orchestration systems will navigate any facility without guidelines on the floor or human intervention. Innovative Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) solutions ensure a super-fast transition from financing to deployment. Expect significantly increased accuracy and productivity once you adopt an AMR system. 


Implementing automation solutions within your business is a collaborative process that reduces human mistakes, operational time and costs, and safety risks. You’ll also see greater agility in order picking and storage. The ubiquity of the technologies has brought the time from adoption to cost down — now there is no excuse not to automate.  

Let’s face it, labor markets have changed and the move to reshore/nearshore back to North America will only put more pressure on your ability to fill your productivity gaps. A healthy mix of automation investment today will make your current workers more productive by having them focus on value-added tasks that are better suited to humans. The longer a company’s transition time to autonomous operations, the harder it may be to catch up, especially as competitors begin their own automation journeys. 
To learn more about how Vecna Robotics can help your distribution, warehousing, or manufacturing operations achieve its automation goals, click here