Cut Labor & Increase Profitability with Proven Warehouse Automation Solutions

Jen Maloney
February 23, 2022


Why are businesses investing so much in warehouse automation for their distribution centers? It’s no surprise – month after month we see the articles detailing the  the ongoing challenge of attracting and retaining good employees. 

In fact, a recent Descartes survey of 1,000 supply chain & logistics decision-makers has revealed that 76% are experiencing notable workforce shortages and 37% characterize the shortages as high to extreme. It’s a big problem that won’t disappear in the near future, making it critical to determine how warehouse automation can protect your company from labor-shortage related issues.

The bottom line is – good workers are hard to come by and hard to retain once you find them.   

Our customers express these facts to us every day. Business is booming, but recruiting labor is expensive, time-consuming, and a revolving door training new and temporary workers. Wages for warehouse labor are at an all-time high, yet retention of workers remains a challenge.

If your warehouse operation is one of the lucky ones not facing labor challenges, there are additional benefits obtained through implementing warehouse automation.  Automation is scalable; it allows customers to meet their volume/growth demands and allows your business to remain competitive. 

In addition to higher productivity and lower fulfillment costs per order gained by investing in a warehouse automation solution, businesses can gain significant savings on packaging material usage, and reduce shipping errors and costs while meeting customer same day delivery expectations. A happy customer is a repeat customer and a great reference for attracting new customers.

Let’s review a few recent customer automation project successes.

Numina Group clients across a broad range of businesses have experienced the benefits outlined above through their investment in warehouse automation. 

The solutions we provided vary by their business needs and order volume, but all have reaped the rewards of increased productivity with less labor, increased accuracy, and customer satisfaction. 

Automation also increased employee work satisfaction by relieving workers of arduous work tasks such as lifting heavy products and reducing walk time in the operations.

United Medco Increased Productivity & Reduced Labor 60%


United Medco is a national wholesaler and distributor specializing in support and full-service warehouse order fulfillment deliveries of over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical and wellness products to customers of major medical insurance companies.

Challenge – United Medco’s sales growth had surpassed their operational throughput and could no longer rely on a paper-based picking operation to meet their daily order volume.

Solution – Numina Group designed an optimized zone routing pick-to-conveyor and pick-to-light system with operators using location and product hands-free barcode scan validation. Numina’s real-time warehouse automaton software, RDS™, manages and controls order start, picking, packing, and print and apply labeling. 

Orders are picked to the right size carton, weight-checked and packed at dual inline pack stations that include auto pack slip print-insert, void-fill and-taper stations. 

Packed cartons travel to the dual print-and-apply label applicator to apply the carrier shipping label and sort the cartons to the required shipping destinations. 

This resulted in increased order flow across the pick, pack, and ship order fulfillment operation.

  • Benefits
  • Pick rates increased to 300 lines per hour
  • Picking accuracy improved to 99.8%
  • 18-month ROI from the productivity gain and 60% labor requirement reduction

According to United Medco’s CFO, the pick to light system has significantly boosted productivity and simplified employee training, a big plus in a tight labor market. 

Employees now work as a team with assigned tasks in the conveyor pick zones. The pick and pack processes are 3 to 4 times faster with less walking to fulfill orders.

“Before we had the Numina system, our staff was walking 10 to 15 miles a day to pick orders,” said Kyle Tuers, Warehouse Manager. Now they work within a ten-foot space, and they’re much happier. Their feet thank them every day.”

PNA Increased Productivity 48% & Reduced Labor

Premier Needles Arts (PNA) is a direct-to-consumer supplier of craft products for knitting, crocheting, and sewing communities around the world. 

Its six brands are sold via its own e-commerce sites, Amazon, and select partners.

Challenge – Early in 2020, e-commerce sales were surging, surpassing PNA’s ability to keep up with growing daily order demand. As volumes spiked, PNA incurred more overtime and had to rely more on temporary labor. 

Before the Numina Group solution, PNA was relying on printed paper tickets for picking. A supervisor sorted the tickets to create the workers’ pick routes, which was a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. 

“We had been planning to enhance our operations by investing in automation and new technologies, but the sudden surge in order volumes due to the pandemic pushed us to accelerate the timeline,” said Hyland.

The old manual process required a pick-to-tote process and order items were double-touched with scanning and manual packing at 15 manual workstations, including manually constructing the shipping cartons. 

The new pick-to-carton process eliminated most of the tote handling and the operator manual packing workstations. PNA was able to free up valuable warehouse floor space and reduce 10 operators from the packing operation.

Solution – Numina’s RDS warehouse automation software analyzes available orders, performs cartonization logic to determine the most efficient shipping carton or polybag per order, prior to releasing the optimized order wave for creating batch pick carts. Order release combines several operational rules, such as, travel distance, orders with like SKUs, pack class, order priority, shipping cut-off times, and inventory availability.

RDS Voice directs the operators performing the batch picking using voice commands to guide the workers to the required pick locations and direct item picking and put to carton/totes. The pickers are equipped with Zebra WI-FI wearable computers and hands-free barcode ring scanners that provide the voice commands and scan validation of picked items, eliminating pick and pack errors to provide the operation a pick accuracy rate of 99.9%.

Pick-completed orders are unloaded onto an automated pack and ship conveyor line that includes in-line weight audit and vision capture of the order contents, dual print-and-apply label applicator to apply the carrier shipping label, and sort of the cartons to the required shipping lane destinations.


  • Productivity increased 48%
  • Optimized order releases shortest picking path
  • 9% accurate order picking with voice-directed technology
  • Increased warehouse floor space by eliminating 15 manual packing stations
  • Reduced shipping costs by selecting the right-size cartons and polybags

With Numina Group’s design expertise and warehouse automation software, PNA has dramatically increased efficiency and lowered its cost to fulfill orders.

“Comparing last year to this year, we’ve gained a 48% increase in outbound efficiency, even while we had a 33% increase of individual items in each of those quarters,” said Mark Hyland, PNA’s CEO. “We’re picking 33% more items and getting out 48% more item volume compared to the previous year.”

Northshore Care Supply Doubled Orders Per Labor Hour

NorthShore Care Supply is the leader in the distribution of super-premium incontinence supplies and adult diapers. 

Its products are sold online for home delivery but also with a growing channel shipping to institutions.

Challenge – Northshore was experiencing double-digit annual sales growth – pushing fulfillment operations to the limit requiring a move to a new, larger warehouse. Adam Greenberg, the president of NorthShore, knew he wanted a solution that could scale to meet the company’s anticipated growth over the next 7 to 10 years. 

This required a flexible design that reduced labor needs and reduced the number of touches in the order fulfillment process. He wanted a flexible automation solution that eliminated the need for an operator to push heavy 400 lbs+ order pick carts in the new operation.

At Northshore, 60% or more of the customer orders can include two or more bulky full-case items that require packing consolidation with other items in a fast efficient process to meet their same-day shipment policy. Speed across each of the pick, pack, and ship order fulfillment processes is critical to meet parcel carrier cutoff times.

At the old warehouse, work was slow and demanding, using carts and paper picking. “The process wasn’t scalable and could not keep up with our growth,” recalls Adam Greenberg. Also, mis-picks were a problem, especially when using temporary labor because many of the product cases have a similar look, size, and weight.

Solution  Numina Group designed a warehouse automation solution that included an optimized pick, pack, and ship solution managed by RDS warehouse software. The system includes a group of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that automate the order picking and movement throughout the new DC. 

RDS automatically assigns up to 25 orders to a large 700lbs capacity picking cart, and directs the AMRs to pick-up and transport the carts throughout the 6 pick zones. Multiple robots can be dispatched at the same time to optimize zone picking density that minimizes the pickers’ walking time. 

Pickers are located in the pick zones and are simultaneously directed by pick-by-voice to meet the AMR carts at the first pick location. The operators are equipped with Zebra wearable mobile computer and hands-free ring scanners. Voice commands and hands-free scan validation directs the pick and pick of cases and eaches to the assigned order positions on the cart. 

The combination of the AMRs and pick-by-voice has dramatically increased the operations’ order picking rates to over 200 lines per operator with 99.98% accuracy.

At completion of the last pick, RDS directs the robot to deliver the carts to one of the eight available pack stations located along the automated pack and ship conveyor line.  

After the cart drops off, RDS assigns the robot to next available cart picking task.  Pack automation includes in-line carton scan weigh-dimensioning for both an order quality control audit and carrier labeling, manifesting, and sorting to the correct carrier lane.


  • AMRS increased order throughput and handled payloads up to 700 LBS.
  • Order per labor hour doubled
  • Eliminated reliance on temporary workers
  • Pick-by-voice increased picking speed and accuracy
  • Eliminated the requirement for a second shift
  • Executes Amazon Prime order shipment requirements
  • Scalable for future growth

“Numina Group has a deep understanding of the warehouse process improvements, and its software ties together all of our processes and technologies throughout the fulfillment operation integrated to our order management ERP-WMS software,” Greenberg says. “Numina Group has tailored it’s middleware to our needs, becoming the brains behind the operation and directing everything.”

Sam’s Beauty Reduced Manual Touches & Saved 2 Minutes of Labor Per Order Shipped

Sam’s Beauty is a hair and beauty supplier with a thriving and growing online business segment. 

Sam’s also serves customers in its brick-and-mortar stores in Chicago and Melrose Park, IL.

Challenge − Sam’s experienced several years of growth and needed to increase their warehouse order fulfillment shipping volume. Its existing pick, pack, and ship processes were manual. Order picking was paper-based using totes. 

“As business grew, our manifesting stations became a bottleneck during peak times. Packing and manifesting couldn’t keep up with our e-commerce order volume,” said Jin Park, Operation Improvement Director at Sam’s Beauty. “We would have to continue to add more headcount to cover our growth. This led us to begin investigating automation options.”

Solution − Sam’s Beauty chose Numina Group, an independent systems integrator due to its RDS Real-time Distribution Software. RDS has a proven pre-developed pack and ship automation module. RDS, a Warehouse Execution and Control System (WES-WCS) reduced manual touches from Sam’s Beauty operation, eliminating two minutes of labor costs from every order shipment.

The new pack-and-ship solution includes an in-motion carton weight capture scale, dimensioner, and print-and-apply label applicator integrated into an automated pack-and-ship conveyor system. The leaner, lower touch pack process reduced the chance of a pick sheet falling off or being attached to a packed carton. The improved pack process and automated labeling and validation has eliminated labeling and manifesting errors.


  • Eliminated 2 minutes of labor costs form every order shipment
  • Sam’s is processing over 3000 orders per day, 2-3X more than previous volume
  • 2-3 fewer operators needed in the pack and ship area
  • Eliminated shipping errors
  • Reduced quality control error
  • Easy to add new product lines & efficient order flow
  • Built-in scalability

“They were knowledgeable and able to help our team define and understand the process improvements required, resulting in our ability to more than double shipments while increasing the pack and ship area productivity,” said Jin. “In the future, we’ll be exploring Numina’s pick-by-voice solution for automating the picking process as our business continues to grow.”

Merit Medical Boosted Productivity 200% & Saved Over a Minute of Labor Per Shipment

Merit Medical is a major medical and surgical supply manufacturer.

Headquartered near Salt Lake City, Utah, Merit recently moved into a new distribution center in Virginia, doubling the size of their previous East Coast location. 

Challenge − Merit was experiencing continuous growth that was limiting their ability to get orders out on time. Reliance on overtime hours and temporary employees was not sufficient to meet demand.

Solution − Numina Group helped Merit Medical replace its single-order pick-to-paper process with advanced technology. This process included integrating Numina Group’s RDS Real-time Distribution Software to manage and enforce better pick, pack, and ship processes.

Better picking processes were achieved by replacing single-order picking with batch picking based on priority and work demand. Pickers are directed by voice and hands-free bar code scanners capture lot and serial code. 

Orders are released in a continuous wave process that directs operators to the highest priority pick zones. Multiple order types are picked simultaneously across the entire warehouse in a combination of the following zones, fork truck cart picking, case picking to conveyor, pick-to-tote, pick-to-pallet, full-pallet picking and VNA vehicle picking. 

The goal is for pickers to visit a location fewer times per shift, by batch picking different order types simultaneously.

Better pack and ship processes were also implemented. A unique order specific barcode label is printed with lot serial number for tracking and conveyor routing. Put-to-light order consolidation is used for repacking to save time in the picking process and to reduce shipping costs. 

In-line Scan-Weigh-Dimension and manifesting were added. Cartons are scanned and weighed using an inline scale, then measured for their precise dimensions using a dimensional scanner. A print and apply labeling system automates the shipping manifesting, labeling, and application of the packing sheet. Cartons convey and are sorted to the carrier trailer loading lanes.


This project was implemented with minimal downtime or interference to Merit’s normal operations. Results were better processes and technologies that optimized the entire order fulfillment operation by reducing labor, increasing throughput, and successfully managing the critical same day priority shipments. Integrating automated pick, pack, and ship processes yielded substantial savings and quickly justified the investment.

  • Picking accuracy rose to 99.9%
  • Rapid ROI
  • One-Step Plus saved over a minute of labor from every shipment
  • Increased productivity
  • Doubled order volume
  • Greater accuracy
  • Reduced delivery times
  • Eliminated overtime
  • Scalable for future growth

Warehouse automation is the key to unlocking labor savings.

Automation is the most attractive alternative to solving the labor shortage. The key is selecting the right blend of warehouse automation technologies that delivers faster and more accurate pick, pack, and ship order fulfillment processes for your DC’s operations, which will reduce enough labor to provide a quick ROI. 

High-speed, low-touch picking, packing, and shipping processes when matched with the right blend of technologies including voice picking, goods-to-person, robots, conveyors, print-and-apply labeling are proven to optimize fulfillment operations, lower labor requirements while boosting profitability.

About Numina Group

For over 35 years, Numina Group has been an industry-leading independent systems integrator, which sets us apart from manufacturers and in-house automation departments. 

We work as your partner to evaluate and select the right warehouse automation and material handling technology investments. We offer expert warehouse design & engineering, superior automation software, and implementation services.

 The Numina Group has established one of the industry’s most experienced engineering teams of industrial, mechanical, electrical controls, software, and project management staff to support our clients.

Numina Group designs and implements optimized warehouse operations managed by our RDS™ WES-WCS warehouse execution and control software platform. Numina’s RDS™ Warehouse Execution and Control Software is a full suite of predeveloped modules including order release optimization for managing the latest generation autonomous mobile robots, AMR-driven goods-to-person (G2P), voice and pick-to-light systems with automated pack and ship conveyor systems, cartonization, conveyor system control, weight, and vision audit, print and apply labeling, and high-speed sortation. 

For information about how to increase productivity by 35% or more in your distribution center, contact us to speak with one of our warehouse engineers.

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