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Warehouse putaway is exactly what the name suggests: the process of putting away incoming goods in the most efficient manner possible. Think of it as the middleman between what’s coming into your warehouse and where (and how) it will be housed. Automation can greatly improve this organization and sorting process, leading to increased productivity, reduced labor costs, and improved accuracy. Without it, your facility can experience significant disruption to workflows, pile-up of incoming product, and overall reduced operational efficiency.

Types of putaway processes

Moving incoming goods from receiving to storage sounds straightforward, but it’s not as simple as moving items from one location to another. A strategic warehouse putaway system is crucial to a warehouse’s organization and efficiency and the type of putaway process you choose will depend on your specific warehouse’s needs. Here are the main types of warehouse putaway systems.

Direct putaway

This system aims to transport items to their storage destination as efficiently as possible, limiting the time that product sits in temporary storage. This works best for batch orders when all the items in the order will be delivered to the same customer since the entire batch can be stored in a single allocated area. This method also reduces unnecessary handling, which can reduce damage to the product.

Dynamic putaway

Dynamic putaway makes real-time decisions about where incoming inventory will be stored in the warehouse. It places items in the first available storage location, enabling a quick putaway process. This method works best for facilities receiving products that share physical characteristics.

Fixed location putaway

Fixed location putaway is the ideal system for warehouses that receive a wide variety of goods that need to be easily and quickly retrieved. Items are stored by category—whether that’s by product type or based on physical characteristics—in specific locations within the warehouse, so they are easy to find when needed. 

6 ways automation can optimize putaway

One way automation can improve putaway is through the use of automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS). These systems use computer-controlled cranes or robots to move goods to and from storage, reducing the need for manual labor. Additionally, these systems are often paired with automated conveyor systems for even greater efficiency.

Another way automation can improve putaway is through the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology. RFID tags can be placed on goods, allowing them to be tracked and located automatically, reducing the need for manual inventory management. This can also help to reduce errors and improve accuracy in the putaway process.

Boxes moving on a conveyor belt

In addition, warehouse management systems (WMS) can also be used to automate the putaway process. WMS software can be used to track and manage inventory, as well as to plan and direct the movement of goods within the warehouse. This can help to optimize the putaway process, reducing the need for manual labor and increasing efficiency.

An increasingly popular solution is the use of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). These systems use self-driving vehicles such as forklifts to automate the delivery of products from the receiving dock into storage. When integrated with a WMS, they can provide a fully automated solution. AMRs a more modern approach to automation with intelligent navigation and path planning that allows the system to adapt to the current state of your operation in real time. 

The use of drones in warehouse putaway can also be beneficial. Drones can be programmed to take inventory and monitor the warehouse, providing real-time data on the location and movement of goods.

Finally, using machine learning in warehouse putaway can also help to optimize the process. Machine learning algorithms can be used to analyze data on goods and warehouse activity, identifying patterns and trends that can be used to improve the putaway process. This can help to optimize the placement of goods in the warehouse, reducing the need for manual labor and increasing efficiency.

Overall, automation can greatly improve the warehouse putaway process. AGVs, AMRs, AS/RS,  RFID technology, automated conveyor systems, warehouse management systems, drones, and machine learning can all be used to optimize the putaway process, reducing the need for manual labor and increasing efficiency.

Putaway optimization through robotics

Fortunately, Vecna Robotics has a wide range of AMR solutions that are tailor-made for putaway workflows. For more information about how you can get started with your putaway automation journey, go to our From No Bot to Robot page, or can contact us today to schedule a consultation with a factory automation expert.