In January 2019 Versteijnen Logistics opened an AutoStore, a kind of automated storage in which orders are picked by robots instead of humans. Last year the capacity of the warehouse was already doubled. Improvement Engineer Dirk Luijten tells more about AutoStore and the advantages of an automated warehouse.
A cube with robots
An AutoStore, perhaps you have never heard of one. Yet this kind of automated warehouse already exists for several years. The first one in The Netherlands was built in 1998. Dirk explains more about the AutosStore: “An AutoStore is an automated warehouse. It is like a large cube in which trays are stacked on top of each other. On top of this cube robots roam around which move the trays to the right station. At these stations our employees then check the trays and make sure everything is ready for delivery.” You can notice a change when it comes to the picking method with the arrival of AutoStore: “At first we used the person to goods method. In which a person walks to get the order from the right shelf. Now we are using a goods to person method. In which the goods are brought to the person via the robot”, says Dirk.
Opening an AutoStore was done with an eye toward the future. It keeps getting more and more difficult to find good personnel and an automatization process such as AutoStore helps a lot with this problem. “In the future we would like to have more fully automated AutoStores”, says Dirk. “In this way we can use what personnel we have for our other operations. We have enough to do and AutoStore helps to keep the pressure at a low.”
Using AutoStore has some advantages as opposed to a regular warehouse. An AutoStore is compact, which means that you have more square meters that you can now use in your warehouse. Besides that you need les personnel because part of the process is taken over by robots. Dirk: “It is quite difficult to calculate how much manpower you save by using robots. But we see that picking orders happens a lot faster. We can now pick 133 orders in one hour per working station.”
Versteijnen Logistics recently expanded their fleet from 18 to 35 robots. The number of trays have doubled from 20.000 to 40.000 pieces. ‘’The AutoStore was expanded because of a growing customer demand. We like to fulfil the need of our customers and search for possibilities.’’ Dirk expects that expansions like this will become more frequent in the future. He tells “We are expecting more customers, the building of a second AutoStore is a distinct possibility. ”