Taking a Phased Approach to Selecting DC Automation

Have you recently experienced a surge in E-Com orders?

We have seen a big uptick in interest for process and technology improvements across a number of different industry segments looking to more efficiently operate their E-Com shipping business due to a surge in business.  Many had previously experienced 10-15% year over year E-com growth, but the pandemic has now caused a 3-4X surge in B2C order shipments. There are steps that can be taken to become more flexible and efficient in an order fulfillment operation to adapt to evolving conditions.

If this sounds like your DC, a facility that just a few years back was shipping primarily full pallet or mixed case pallets, but is now faced with the challenge of shipping a single case or a single SKU due to exponential growth in E-Com orders, it’s time to implement changes to streamline your direct to consumer order fulfillment operation. The question is where to start? 

It is well documented that picking is the costliest and most labor intensive process in the distribution center. The picking process is usually the most obvious first step. However, when it comes to B2C shipments, many times it’s not picking holding back the operation, it’s the bottleneck in the pack, documentation, manifesting, and labeling process that is limiting the shipping operation!

That’s why at Numina Group we offer a phased, modular solution for warehouse order fulfillment automation. Our Real-time distribution software, RDS™ includes a full family of pack and ship automation that can be used to solve a DC problem area or, if needed, automate the entire warehouse operation.

Phase 1 – Evaluate and Plan before you Act

Many integrators offer minimal advice on how to add productivity to your DC.  Numina Group looks at the whole process and can define a solution that will include the pack and ship area as the initial phase, or if the current picking process does not have the tools to operate an Omni-channel operation, we will address the complete requirements for E-Com pick, pack, and ship processes. During the operation evaluation step, we focus on all the components in the order fulfillment operation.

Eliminate the Bottleneck in the final 100’ of the DC

Our family of advanced automatic print and apply labeling solutions maximizes order throughput to lower labor costs and increase operational efficiency. Numina Group’s flexible, scalable print and apply labeling solutions are used in both manufacturing and warehousing facilities to automate the application of product identification, retail and e-commerce compliance, carton content, packing slips, and shipping labels.

Replacing the manual operation with a Numina Group in-motion high speed print and apply labeling conveyor line automates the scan-weigh dimensioning and the application of the pack sheet or a removable packing slip and shipping label. A print and apply labeling system can eliminate the cost of 4-5 operators per shift, saving $28,000 to $30,000 a year per employee.

The automated pack line incorporates an in-line weight and vision audit scale, an auto pack sheet print, fold, and insert station, an operator at a semi-auto void fill machine, and a semi-automatic or fully automatic adjustable taper/sealer to pack and seal cartons at rates of 6-12 CPM.

At the exit of the taper, the carton travels to the lowest cost and most proven robot for the distribution industry, print and apply label applicators! Print and apply labeling of compliance, packing slips/sheets, carton content, return labels, and shipping labels eliminates unnecessary manual touches and fully automates manifesting and shipping.

The pack line allows a single operator to perform what is typically the task of 2-3 people in a manual packing process.

Implement a Speed Pack Station

If your business has a lot of single line E-Com orders, you can double order packing throughput by implementing a speed-pack station.  Orders are batch picked to the speed-pack station, then scanned directly to a padded bag, the pack sheet is printed, then inserted into the bag, and the carton is sealed, and placed on a conveyor.  The bag is automatically weighed with scan-weigh-dim technology, the weight is passed directly to the carrier’s manifesting system for rate shopping, and then the shipping label is printed and applied directly to the bag.  The label is scan verified with RDS’s FDA rated level of tracking and validation software, then sorted directly to the gaylord.

Speed-pack padded bag lines can achieve rates of 18-24 cartons per minute with a single print and apply applicator. 

Print and Apply Labeling Tunnel 

If the operation has a large percentage of E-Com shipments that consist of full case, the operation may benefit from a solution that automates outbound case shipping.  At pick completion, pallets of the product or a pick to conveyor line transports the cases to the Print and Apply Labeling Tunnel.  Automated labeling systems process from 650 to 3,000 or more cases an hour to increase the DC throughput, and minimize manual handling, improve order documentation, and shipment accuracy. 

The Labeling tunnel includes a camera based scanner and scales to capture the case SKU barcode and weight to verify picking. The case identification data is then used by the software to automatically assign the case to an E-Com order and the series of print and apply label applicators applies the required shipping labels and packing sheet documentation to match the customer shipment rules for each.

Labeling tunnels can also automate the shipping requirements for retailers such as Amazon, Wayfair, Home Depot, Lowes, and Walmart and for third party carrier manifesting requirements such as UPS, FedEx, or LTL.  When ready-to-ship cartons and cases are placed on an automated labeling tunnel conveyor line in the shipping area, you can eliminate 3 minutes or more of manual labor from every case E-Com shipment. At $20 an hour labor cost burden – that’s over a dollar labor savings per shipment.

Whatever your warehouse optimization needs are – Numina Group can help

Whether you envision your operation benefiting from our RDS™ Voice Suite, or an automated labeling tunnel to alleviate the current pack and shipping bottleneck, think Numina Group. We go beyond picking automation. We’ll work with your team as a partner to evaluate and recommend the right blend of warehouse automation and tailor the solution to your requirements and ROI objectives. 

Imagine the impact and benefits that higher productivity, reduced labor needs, and happier, safer and more motivated employees would do for improving customer satisfaction and profitability.  Together, we can make this happen. Contact us today to discuss phase one of defining the right blend of automation to accelerate your DC’s performance.