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Shuttles Deliver Goods-to-operator Efficiencies

Shuttles Deliver Goods-to-Operator Efficiencies

   Rick Graff

Shuttles Deliver Goods-to-Operator Efficiencies

It’s a common sight in a distribution center (DC): employees pushing carts throughout the warehouse — all shift long. What if these same employees could maintain consistent picking productivity during that time, or complete tasks that support faster and more efficient throughput?

Today’s DC managers face ongoing struggles: labor shortages, SKU proliferation, inventory storage costs and rising customer expectations. These demands require robust solutions.

Send a shuttle

Shuttle systems are one form of automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) that enable goods-to-operator (GTO) efficiencies in the DC. Rather than an operator-to-goods scenario, where workers travel throughout a warehouse to gather products, AS/RS shuttles work on a GTO basis to deliver products to workers. The system has shuttles that travel through a rack with lifts bringing products down to the picking stations. 

In an each-picking scenario, the shuttle brings a tote to an operator who removes the correct quantity before the shuttle returns the tote to the racks. Shuttles can be used for case picking as well, whereby product travels via shuttle from inventory (or temporary storage) to palletizing and then to shipping, often enabling a shipping buffer or cross-dock configuration.

Higher throughputs and SKU counts necessitate additional storage space. AS/RS addresses this concern, too, maximizing facility storage capacity to save on building and expansion costs.

Inaccuracies add up

Escalating order demands can increase the potential for costly mistakes. For example, a DC with a 0.5 percent error rate and a 2,000-item throughput per day will face significantly more unhappy customers if its throughput increases to 20,000 items per day. Shuttles help to reduce inaccurate picking, keeping errors and reverse logistics costs to a minimum.

Experts at Honeywell Intelligrated can help configure a shuttle system for you by evaluating your building volume, number of SKUs and their velocity, and daily throughput rates.

Although AS/RS shuttles are a higher-value investment, they’re not just for DCs with the highest throughput; DCs of any size can realize payback.

Honeywell Intelligrated’s GTO shuttle systems offer an excellent payload capacity and the ability for the shuttle to travel deeper into the racks to retrieve products. Our AS/RS shuttle solutions deliver focused, high-powered fulfillment automation for a variety of business requirements.

To see how AS/RS might benefit your DC, watch our shuttle systems video