Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS), are computer-controlled systems that store and retrieve items with minimized human contact.
Many grocery store and supermarket managers are adopting this technology to address high labor and land costs. If your grocery store is looking to change how your supply chain operates, installing ASRS can be beneficial.
Let’s look at how grocery stores can implement ASRS:
WHY ADOPT ASRS
As a grocer, you know the increased demand of online grocery orders, increased labor costs and labor shortage affect your business. Implementing automation can provide solutions to these issues.
For online orders, adopting automation to fulfill online orders saves time and money. Having employees fulfill online orders with conventional picking carts not only causes congestion in store aisles, but it also is time-intensive, costing you money. Whether you adopt in-store automation or build an offsite automated micro-fulfillment center, ASRS makes online orders more efficient.
For typical grocery distribution centers, ASRS can make working conditions safer and more ergonomic. For example, refrigerated and frozen food facilities employ manual workers, but the dangerous sub-zero conditions require frequent breaks to prevent freezing. With automated technologies, this would not be something to worry about.
ASRS also decreases lifting and traveling. This can be beneficial if you have an aging labor pool, especially with less and less of the next generation to replace them.
HOW TO START
ASRS technology can take several forms. Grocery warehouse automation looks different depending on the products (e.g. produce vs. meat).
For grocery warehouses with larger loads, a fully automated warehouse might look like a combination of Autonomous Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and pallet shuttles. If you have a smaller grocery warehouse or work with goods that have been packaged, use a robotic palletizer, which is relatively inexpensive and offers an alternative to manual labor and excels at packing mixed caseloads.
If your grocery store needs a boost with online order fulfillment, either from back-storage space or an offsite dark store, start with semi-automation. One way to do this is through mobile floor robots that accompany store associates. The floor robots process the order, calculate the location and most efficient way to fetch the items and then lead the store associate through the back room or dark store to pick the items.
One notch further is fully automating your warehouse. Install a grid system where mobile robots or automated carts travel on tracks to fetch items. While this is a big change, the industry is moving toward this model. Watch this video from Ocado, an online grocery store partnering with Kroger, in action.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
FoxArneson specializes in both design and building services for grocery, warehouse and distribution centers.