Order Fulfillment During Covid-19
Before the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce was said to be the fastest growing segment in the world.
To some extent, the pandemic even catalyzed that growth while consumers rushed to online shopping. Meanwhile, individual warehouses ended up exposed on high volatility and unpredictability.
Swisslog experts remained in liaison with customers during the pandemic. We had an opportunity to learn from these unprecedented times.
Therefore, we share a list of issues that appeared to be common pitfalls during recent turbulence, accompanied with suggestions on how to avoid them in the future.
1. PERSONNEL SHORTAGE ON SITE
Personnel planning was a challenge during coronavirus. Employees were not able to come to work because of lockdown, or in more critical cases, due to infection. By having robots find and move specific products in a goods-to-person model, it’s no longer necessary to have individuals walking up and down aisles all day pulling orders.
This not only makes better use of human resources; it results in dramatically reduced pick times. Our CarryPick solution delivers flexible and modular order-picking processes that reduces travel paths and the picking error rate.
2. MULTI-SHIFTS OPERATIONS
High reductions in personnel conflicted with rising demand and the necessity to fill for multi-shifts’ operations. A modular, robotic goods-to-person picking solution not only increases the productivity of current personnel, it provides the flexibility to extend work shifts by having robots stage orders before human workers arrive on the job.
Flexible and easily extendable, AutoStore is well-suited for accelerating your operations during surges in demand. AutoStore is relatively easy to deploy – see how we installed additional AutoStore within 10 days to one of our customers on page 18 of this issue. Watch our AutoStore installations in motion.
E-Commerce Facts and Figures
Sporting Goods, Home & Garden and Toys & Games categories registered three-digit growth y-o-y in order count terms during COVID-19.
E-commerce expanded in lower-tier cities and in older age groups (based on China). Among shoppers living in cities classified as Tier 3 and below, e-commerce activity accounted for 69.2 percent of the total share during the outbreak. That was an increase of 12 percent from January. In January, those aged 31 and above made up 49 percent of online consumers. This leaped to 60 percent by the end of February.
- 36 percent of retailers said they adjusted their marketplace strategy as a result of COVID-19.
- 80 percent of global warehouses did not have any automation in 2016.
3. STOCKPILING OF UNNECESSARY CATEGORIES
While we are focusing on those articles/categories that are in need, what happens with those that are not in demand? Are they sent back to the manufacturer? Where are they stockpiled? With smart software you can allocate categories and articles based on their frequency of usage.
Swisslog’s SynQ focuses on stock frequency, the visibility of stock, expiry dates information and operation strategy (first-in-first-out or last-in-first-out) – based on which you can manage your stock. Our SynQ WMS can boost your warehouse’s efficiency and operational performance by strategically managing the location of your fastmoving inventory, and the dynamic management of this.
4. NO TIME TO TRAIN NEW WAREHOUSE PERSONNEL
You needn’t have to slow down your operations in order to make your new personnel trained within warehouse. During the pandemic some of our customers benefitted from our SynQ Virtual Reality (VR) Training Manager.
Deployment of such software can ensure continuity of operations while delivering excellence in peaking skills. Have a look how can our customers continue their operations while having their new personnel trained.
5. MACHINES’ DOWNTIME - WHAT NOW?
In case of interruptions in hardware functioning you probably struggled to get engineers from lockdown on board and fix the issue for you. Such cases made us realize that we came in at the right time for remote services. With Swisslog’s safe Smart Assistance, you can secure quick and spot-on servicing of error handling, facilitated by Augmented Reality. Have a look at remote support options for you.
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