Streamlining Warehouse Operations: The Power of Conveyor Systems

Oct 26, 2023

In today’s fast-paced business environment, optimising your warehouse operations is crucial for success. That’s why we’re here to explore the world of warehouse automation and how it can revolutionise your distribution system and warehouse solutions. 

In a world where efficiency and speed are paramount, warehouse automation has emerged as a game-changer. At Conveyor Systems, we understand the importance of staying ahead in the automation race. 

In this blog, we’ll delve into the key aspects of warehouse automation, including the role of automated machinery, warehouse control systems (WCS) and integration. 

Understanding Warehouse Automation

Warehouse automation is the integration of advanced technology and machinery to streamline the processes involved in the storage, retrieval, and movement of goods within a warehouse. It’s a transformative concept that has the potential to revolutionise how businesses manage their warehouse operations. Let’s delve deeper into what this entails and how it can truly transform your distribution system and elevate your warehouse solutions to unprecedented levels of efficiency and productivity.

Efficiency through Technology Integration

Warehouse automation leverages cutting-edge technologies to optimise and orchestrate the various tasks within a warehouse. This technology integration encompasses a wide range of elements, each contributing to the overall efficiency of the system. Some of the key components and technologies involved include:

Warehouse Control System (WCS):

 At the heart of an automated warehouse, the WCS serves as the central nervous system. It coordinates all activities, from managing inventory to directing automated equipment and robots, ensuring that every operation seamlessly fits into the larger workflow.

Automated Warehouse Equipment: 

This includes an array of machinery designed to handle specific tasks, such as automated conveyor systems for material transport, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) for efficient storage, and automated picking systems for order fulfilment. These machines work together in harmony, reducing the reliance on manual labour.

These machines often include: 

Conveyors Belts and Roller Systems 

Conveyor belts and roller systems are pivotal in warehouse logistics, streamlining material movement. Conveyor belts adapt to handle various products, offering cost-effective elevation changes. Meanwhile, roller conveyors excel at managing flat-based items with adjustable speeds. From gravity roller conveyors to powered roller conveyors, these versatile conveyor systems can enhance the processes in your warehouse. 

Some key benefits of conveyor belts and roller systems include:

  • Efficient material handling: Business processes can be streamlined by implementing conveyor belts and rollers as they automate the process of transporting goods from one place to another. This reduces the need for manual labour, improving the speed of operations. 
  • Space optimisation: A whole facility can be utilised with the use of conveyor systems as they are able to facilitate the transport of products both horizontally and vertically.
  • Reduced Labour Costs: By implementing conveyor systems, employees don’t need to transport products manually. This minimises the need for staff to transport heavy items, reducing physical strain.

Spiral Conveyor Systems 

Spiral conveyor systems maximise warehouse space, offer flexibility, and boost efficiency by smoothly moving products vertically with variable slats, multi-lane options, compact designs, and high speeds, ideal for vertical storage.

Spiral conveyor systems have the advantage of: 

  • Small footprints: Spiral conveyor systems aid with the transportation of products vertically meaning their actual footprint is quite small compared to horizontal conveyor systems. This increases the amount of space in a warehouse. 
  • Flexibility in elevation changes: The main function of a spiral conveyor is to transport items vertically. This means products can be lowered or raised between levels allowing for maximum efficiency.
  • Continuous material flow: A smooth flow of materials enables processes to operate continuously increasing efficiency in the workplace.

Automated Sortation Conveyor Systems

Automated sortation systems are vital for efficient logistics and warehouse management. They handle up to 20,000 products per hour, optimise space, and improve accuracy with barcode readers. Notably, systems like Interroll’s Cross Belt Sorters and Intralox’s Activated Roller Belt offer low-maintenance, energy-efficient solutions, reducing labour and errors in streamlined warehouse operations.

Key benefits of automated sortation conveyor systems include:

  • Real-time tracking and visibility: With the use of advanced tracking technology, real-time monitoring of items can be utilised to enhance inventory management and order tracking.
  • Versatility and scalability: These conveyors can handle various products of all sizes and weights, allowing for the transport of a wide range of items. Additionally, it is possible to increase the capacity of these conveyors as your business and demand grows.
  • Streamlined order fulfillment: By accurately tracking products, orders can be fulfilled quicker reducing lead times.

Packing Automation Systems

Efficiency is crucial in e-commerce, and automated packing systems like the CVP Impack are game-changers. They size, construct, seal, weigh, and label orders precisely, reducing waste, lowering delivery costs, and cutting box volume by 50%, saving on shipping expenses and addressing environmental concerns.

Packing automation systems allow for: 

  • Increased efficiency and throughput: These automated systems are able to package products with high speed and precision, increasing throughput, which is an advantage for businesses with high demand. 
  • Enhanced accuracy: Computers and sensors reduce human error minimising the likelihood of shipping incorrect orders, which improves quality control.
  • Labour cost savings: Enabling automated systems to handle repetitive tasks reduces the need for manual labour in these labour-intensive roles. Employees can be allocated elsewhere and given more value-added tasks providing them with more engaging tasks.

Pallet Conveyors

Pallet conveyors efficiently manage pallet movement within warehouses, handling loads up to 2 tons and eliminating manual handling. They integrate with complementary equipment, enhance safety, and offer flexibility in handling pallets of various sizes and weights, optimising warehouse operations with seamless automation.

Some key benefits of pallet conveyors include:

  • Increased productivity: Pallet conveyors are able to handle heavy loads, speeding up the process of transferring goods and reducing the need for manual handling. 
  • Potential for integration: To improve the utilisation of space within a warehouse, pallet conveyors can be integrated into automated storage and retrieval systems allowing for large pallets to be stored vertically.
  • Improved safety: The need to manually handle large and heavy pallets is reduced resulting in fewer injuries and improving the safety of a workplace.

Vertical Storage 

Automatic vertical warehouses use a central motorised elevator to efficiently move product trays, offering up to 90% space savings, improved order picking, reduced risks, increased security, precise product identification, and efficient stock management, resulting in a rapid return on investment.

The main advantages of vertical storage include: 

  • Space optimisation: The main purpose of vertical storage is to increase the amount of space available in a warehouse or distribution facility vertically rather than needing to expand horizontally. 
  • Increased accessibility: Vertical storage reduces the need for employees to manually search for products, enhancing the efficiency of business operations.
  • Enhanced inventory control and accuracy: Products can be monitored using various computerised software, including location tracking, inventory monitoring and updates on stock levels.

Autonomous Mobile Robots 

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) revolutionise warehouse and manufacturing operations globally. These smart robots use advanced sensors for precise positioning, ensure employee safety with obstacle avoidance, and operate independently. Highly versatile, they optimise pick stations, streamline goods-to-person picking, and redefine warehouse efficiency, ushering in the future of automation.

Key benefits of AMRs are: 

  • Flexibility and adaptability: AMRs are able to navigate places autonomously allowing for them to adapt to rapidly changing environments and demands without the need for reprogramming.
  • Improved efficiency: With this added automation, AMRs can collaborate with humans and other robots to streamline workflows and increase throughput.
  • Enhanced safety: Workplace safety is increased as any physically demanding tasks can be given to AMRs rather than human employees. Additionally, advanced sensors and technology mean AMRs can safely navigate the workplace, avoiding any collisions.

Vertical Lift Conveyors

Vertical lift conveyor systems provide space-saving solutions for modern industries, safely transporting a variety of products between different heights or floors. With impressive throughput rates of up to 2,000 products per hour and the ability to handle loads from 75kg to 2 tons, they offer efficient, versatile, and safe warehouse solutions.

Vertical lift conveyors have the advantage of: 

  • Utilising vertical space: Businesses are able to make better use of the available space in a small warehouse by optimising vertical space rather than just horizontal. This reduces the need for extensive floor space. 
  • Versatility: Vertical lift conveyors are capable of handling heavy loads of all shapes and sizes meaning they can be used in a range of different industries.
  • Ability of integration: If you have any existing conveyor systems, vertical lift conveyors can be easily integrated into your established workflow.

Mezzanines, Goods Lifts & Pallet Racking 

Innovative solutions are needed to optimise warehouse space, boost productivity, and maximise ROI. Mezzanine floor designs expand storage capacity, streamline warehouse operations, and seamlessly integrate with conveyor systems. CSL’s mezzanines enhance workflow, utilising space efficiently. Goods lifts improve vertical transportation for greater operational efficiency and safety. Pallet racking and shelving systems cater to unique storage needs, ensuring optimal storage efficiency. 

Some benefits of these solutions include: 

  • Space utilisation: Both mezzanines and pallet racking allow for the optimisation of space within a warehouse. This enables businesses to store a greater amount of product without having to expand their warehouse. 
  • Increase efficiency: By automating these processes, overall operational efficiency can be improved as manual labour is reduced and pallet racking allows for ease of locating and retrieving items.
  • Adaptability: Each of these solutions are highly adaptable to accommodate different products. This means mezzanines, good lifts and pallet racking can be used in a number of different industries.

Benefits of Warehouse Automation

Increased Efficiency and Productivity:

Warehouse automation significantly boosts operational efficiency and productivity. Here’s how:

  • Faster Order Processing: Automated systems, such as conveyor systems and robots, perform tasks swiftly and consistently, reducing the time it takes to process orders. This leads to quicker order fulfilment and shorter lead times for customers.
  • Higher Throughput: Automated equipment can handle a larger volume of goods and tasks simultaneously, resulting in increased throughput. This means your warehouse can process more orders in less time, improving overall productivity.

Reduced Labour Costs:

Labour is a significant operational cost for warehouses. Warehouse automation offers cost-saving opportunities in several ways:

  • Elimination of Repetitive Tasks: Robots and automated equipment take over monotonous and physically demanding tasks, reducing the need for human labour in these areas. This not only saves on labour expenses but also frees up your workforce for more value-added roles.
  • Consistent Performance: Automation ensures consistent and error-free performance, reducing the need for costly rework due to human errors.

Enhanced Accuracy and Reduced Errors:

Precision and accuracy are critical in warehouse operations, especially in picking, packing, and inventory management. Warehouse automation excels in this area by:

  • Minimising Human Error: Automation systems follow predefined processes with incredible accuracy, significantly reducing the risk of errors in order fulfilment, inventory tracking, and data entry.
  • Improved Order Accuracy: When every aspect of order processing is automated, the chances of shipping the wrong items or incorrect quantities to customers are almost eliminated. This leads to higher customer satisfaction and fewer returns.

Improved Inventory Management:

Effective inventory management is essential to prevent overstocking or running out of products. Warehouse automation improves inventory control by:

  • Real-time Tracking: Automated systems continuously track inventory levels and update them in real-time. This ensures that you always have accurate data on the status of your stock.
  • Data Analytics: Automation systems collect and analyse data about inventory movements, demand patterns, and historical trends. This data can be used to optimise stock levels, reorder points, and storage strategies.
  • Reducing Overstock and Stockouts: With accurate inventory data and intelligent forecasting, you can maintain optimal stock levels. This means fewer instances of overstock (reducing holding costs) and fewer stockouts (improving customer service).

Scalability and Adaptability:

Warehouse automation solutions are designed with scalability and adaptability in mind. This means:

  • Easy Expansion: As your business grows, you can seamlessly expand your automated warehouse system by adding more conveyor lines, robots, or storage solutions. This scalability allows you to meet increasing demand without major disruptions.
  • Adapting to Seasonal Variations: If your business experiences seasonal fluctuations in demand, automation provides the flexibility to adjust to these changes. You can scale up or down as needed, ensuring efficient operations year-round.
  • Future-Proofing: Investing in warehouse automation is a future-proofing strategy. It ensures that your distribution system can adapt to changing market conditions, technology advancements, and customer expectations, giving you a competitive edge in the long term.

Key Components of an Automated Warehouse

Central to the success of automation are key components that drive efficiency and innovation:

  • Warehouse Control System (WCS): This orchestrates operations, synchronising equipment and ensuring seamless workflow.
  • Automated Machinery: From order-picking solutions to storage and distribution operations, a range of automated machinery enhances accuracy and productivity.
  • Integration: Unify your Warehouse Management System (WMS) with WCS to optimise your automation project’s heartbeat.

Automated Warehouse Design

Warehouse automation is not just about implementing advanced technology and machinery; it’s also about designing a space that maximises the benefits of automation. Proper warehouse design is the foundation upon which efficient, automated systems are built. 

At Conveyor Systems, we understand the critical role that design plays in ensuring your automated systems work seamlessly and optimise space utilisation. 

Efficient warehouse design and automation go hand-in-hand, and here’s why:

  1. Workflow Optimisation: A well-designed warehouse layout takes into account the flow of goods and materials. It ensures that products move logically from receiving to storage, picking, packing, and shipping, reducing unnecessary backtracking and congestion.
  2. Space Utilisation: Automation can help make the most of your available space, but only when the layout is carefully planned. An optimised design maximises storage capacity and minimises wasted space, leading to cost savings.
  3. Integration of Conveyor Systems: Conveyor systems are the arteries of an automated warehouse. They facilitate the smooth and continuous movement of goods. Proper design ensures that conveyor systems are seamlessly integrated into the layout, minimising bottlenecks and ensuring a consistent flow of products.


How Conveyor Systems Can Help

Our experts at Conveyor Systems specialise in designing layouts that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your warehouse automation:

1. Tailored Solutions

We work closely with you to understand your specific needs, industry, and product characteristics. Our solutions are tailored to ensure that every aspect of your warehouse design aligns with your unique requirements.

2. Workflow Analysis

We conduct a thorough analysis of your current workflow and processes, identifying areas where automation can provide the most significant benefits. This analysis guides the design process to ensure optimal results.

3. Integration Expertise

Our experience in warehouse automation and conveyor systems allows us to seamlessly integrate these critical components into your warehouse layout. This integration ensures that your automated systems work cohesively, eliminating bottlenecks and enhancing overall efficiency.

4. Scalability Considerations

We design layouts with scalability in mind, allowing your warehouse to adapt to changing demand. Whether you need to expand your operations or incorporate additional automation components, our designs accommodate future growth.

5. Space Optimisation

Our designs prioritise space utilisation, helping you make the most of your available square footage. This leads to cost savings in both storage and operational efficiency.

6. Safety and Ergonomics

We prioritise the safety and well-being of your workforce by designing layouts that adhere to industry safety standards and promote ergonomic work environments.

Automated warehouse design is a critical component of warehouse automation success. Proper planning not only enhances efficiency but also ensures that your automated systems perform optimally, leading to cost savings and improved customer satisfaction. Conveyor Systems’ experts are here to help you create a warehouse layout that maximises the benefits of automation while promoting smooth workflows and integration of conveyor systems.

Streamline Your Work Processes With Conveyor Systems

Warehouse automation powered by Conveyor Systems is a game-changer for your distribution system and warehouse solutions. Embracing automation not only improves efficiency and accuracy but also future-proofs your operations.

Ready to transform your warehouse operations? Contact Conveyor Systems today to explore how our warehouse automation solutions and conveyor belt solutions can elevate your distribution system to new heights. Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest trends and case studies in warehouse automation. Join us on the journey towards a more efficient and productive warehouse future.

Conveyor Systems FAQs

What are the different types of conveyor systems? 

There are many different conveyor systems that can transform the operations within a warehouse. The more common forms of conveyor systems are conveyor belts, roller conveyors and screw conveyors. At Conveyor Systems, we have installed conveyor systems and conveyor belts across the UK. If you need a conveyor system designed for your warehouse, contact us today and our experts will find a solution for you. 

How do I choose a conveyor system?

Some things to consider when deciding a the right conveyor system for you are:

  • Type of product: The type of product you are handling can determine the size and type of conveyor you need. For example, belt conveyor systems are great for loose items. 
  • Space and layout: The size of your conveyor system will be determined by the amount of space you have in your warehouse. This can also dictate whether you need spiral or vertical conveyors or if traditional belt conveyors are right for you. 
  • Throughput requirements: The volume of items you need transported within a given timeframe also affects the type of conveyor you need. Different conveyor systems have various speeds and capacities meaning installing the correct conveyor system for your needs is imperative as to not affect the efficiency of your warehouse. 
  • Level of automation: The type of systems you already have in place and how much automation you require, affects the type of conveyor system you need. Many conveyor systems can be integrated with pre-established systems so understanding which one will work seamlessly with your current systems will cause less disruption to your work processes. 

There are many more considerations you need to think about when deciding on the right conveyor solution for you. At Conveyor Systems, our experts are on hand to help you find the perfect fit for your warehouse. 

How long should a conveyor belt last? 

Depending on what you are using your conveyor belt for, conveyor systems can last anywhere between a few years to 10 or more years. Factors such as the products being transported, operating environment and the maintenance of the conveyor system can affect the lifespan of your conveyor system. 

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