Should You Upgrade to an ASRS Warehouse System?

Traditional warehouses can be disorganised mazes. But what if there was a better way? Automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) are revolutionising warehouse operations. These futuristic setups use robots and computer systems to automatically store and retrieve inventory. 

In this article, we’ll look at the pros and challenges of upgrading to an ASRS warehouse. With clever automation, could your warehouse become a model of efficiency? Or is ASRS an expensive hassle not worth the investment? Let’s weigh up whether you should upgrade to this advanced technology or stick to tried and tested manual systems. 

Get ready to glimpse the warehouse of the future.

What is an ASRS Warehouse?

An automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) warehouse uses robots and control systems to automatically load, store, and retrieve materials with speed and precision.

In an ASRS warehouse, goods are stored in a racking structure, with robots automatically placing and retrieving loads from the racks.  A computer system tracks the locations of all loads and directs the robots to the right place.

Key Benefits of an Automated Warehouse System 

Increased storage density

The racking structures can go higher and fit in narrower aisles since humans don’t need to access them. This means you can store more in the same space. This makes it ideal for warehouses in Singapore where space constraints make building up the more preferred option.

Faster material handling

Robots can move materials to and from storage much faster than humans. This speeds up processes like picking, putting away stock, and replenishing pick faces.

Improved accuracy

A well-functioning ASRS virtually eliminates mistakes like misplaced or lost loads. The computer system keeps precise records of where everything is stored. Everything is barcode scanned and tracked electronically so you have real-time data on the location and quantity of all your stock. No more hunting for misplaced items or dealing with lost inventory.

Enhanced productivity

Automation reduces the amount of walking, lifting, and searching required of human workers. Staff can focus on higher-value tasks like monitoring systems and managing exceptions.

A safer working environment

Removing heavy and repetitive manual work creates a safer warehouse environment with fewer workplace injuries. Workers can also avoid the hazards of operating forklifts and pallet jacks in a crowded warehouse. This also makes it more suitable to hire employees of various age groups to manage the ASRS system.

While an ASRS warehouse requires a significant initial investment, many companies find the long-term benefits to productivity and efficiency well worth the cost. If faster, denser, and more accurate storage and retrieval are priorities for your business, an ASRS warehouse could be the ideal solution.

ASRS vs Traditional Warehousing: Key Differences

When deciding between an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) or a traditional warehouse setup, there are some major differences to consider.

An ASRS warehouse utilises large automated cranes and shelving systems to automatically store and retrieve materials, parts and products. This is in contrast to a traditional warehouse which relies on human operators and manual forklifts to move and store inventory.

Some of the key differences between the two options are:

Speed and efficiency: An ASRS can rapidly store and retrieve inventory, handling up to 1,000 lines per hour. This is much faster than human operators in a standard warehouse.

Accuracy: Automated systems have a much lower margin of error, ensuring inventory is stored and retrieved correctly each time with minimal mistakes.

Space utilisation: The high-density storage design of an ASRS allows for maximising warehouse space. Up to 85% of the total warehouse cube can be used compared to only about 50% in a standard warehouse.

Cost: Although ASRS have higher upfront costs, they can save money in the long run through reduced labour costs, fewer errors, and improved space efficiency. 

Flexibility: ASRS systems are flexible and can be reconfigured as needed to accommodate changes in product lines, inventory, or business needs. This is more difficult to do with a standard warehouse design.

Whether the pros of an automated system outweigh the cons for your business depends on your specific warehousing and operational needs. Conducting a thorough cost-benefit analysis of an ASRS warehouse vs a traditional warehouse is key to determining the best approach and if making the switch to automation is right for you.

Is an ASRS Warehouse Right for Your Business?

So, you’ve learned about automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) and how they differ from traditional warehouses. Now you need to determine if making the switch to an ASRS warehouse is the right move for your company. There are a few factors to consider:

Cost

ASRS warehouses often have a higher upfront cost due to the automated machinery and technology required. The cost of an ASRS warehouse can vary significantly based on the system size and complexity. Large, multi-level systems with high-density storage and advanced software tend to cost more. The good news is that the increased efficiency and productivity enabled by ASRS can provide a solid return on investment over the lifetime of the system. If reducing long-term operating expenses is a priority, an ASRS warehouse could save your business money over time.

Throughput

Do you struggle with efficiently moving a high volume of inventory or orders through your current warehouse? ASRS warehouses are designed to handle a large throughput using automated cranes and conveyors. This could significantly improve your workflow and allow you to scale your operations.

Available Space

Space constraints are a common issue for many businesses. ASRS warehouses use vertical space efficiently, with some systems providing up to 100 feet of storage height. This maximises your available square footage and cube utilisation. If you’re running out of room in your current warehouse, an ASRS solution could provide much-needed additional space.

Inventory Management

Tracking inventory accurately is essential for an efficient warehouse operation. ASRS technology provides advanced software for real-time inventory monitoring and control. Radio frequency identification (RFID) and barcoding are often used to automatically identify, sort and locate stock. This gives you greater visibility and control over your inventory.

Extreme Temperatures

If you need your goods to be stored in a coldroom, an ASRS system can be doubly useful for your operations. Coldrooms typically have temperatures down to -35 °C which makes it not a conducive environment for staff to spend long periods of time in. Furthermore, the frequent opening and closing of coldroom doors when staff move in and out can interfere with the cooling system and make it work twice as hard. In such an environment, ASRS systems come in as a saving solution for operational efficiency and staff welfare.

If cost savings, increased throughput, maximised space, or improved inventory management would benefit your business, an ASRS warehouse could be an ideal solution. While the initial investment may be substantial, the long-term rewards of greater efficiency, productivity and workflow can make it worthwhile for companies with high-volume operations. For many businesses, taking the step to automate their warehouse is a strategic move that pays off substantially in the years to come.

Get a Coldroom Built For Your ASRS System with Kiat Lay 

The process of planning a cold room around an ASRS structure or warehouse demands a high degree of precision and strategic foresight. One of the critical considerations is ensuring uniform and consistent temperature distribution across all corners of the room. The challenge intensifies with the introduction of machines and computers, which generate their own heat. To address this, the refrigeration systems of the cold room must be designed to effectively compensate for these heat sources.

 At Kiat Lay, our approach involves a meticulous examination of your temperature requirements, a thorough evaluation of the ASRS structure’s size, and a consideration of factors such as traffic and inventory sizes. Upon assessment, we will be able to build a coldroom that has all the optimal conditions. 

To find out more about coldrooms built for ASRS systems or to get a quote, contact us at (65) 67933313 or enquiry@kiatlay.com.sg.

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