Numina Group Blog

Warehouse Technologies to Consider NOW Before Your Next Peak Holiday Season

January 25, 2024

The 2023 peak holiday season is over, with good news for retailers. US retail sales grew 3.1% in 2023 over the previous year.¹

E-commerce shopping continues to grow. According to Deloitte, consumers spent a record amount on online shopping over Thanksgiving weekend. Consumers strongly preferred shopping online, shifting historical norms on days like Black Friday, previously dominated by in-store shoppers.

How well did your fulfillment operations keep up with order volumes? Is there room for improvement?

  • Were there bottlenecks in pick, pack, and ship workflow that slowed down order throughput?
  • Were you able to meet customer delivery requirements?
  • Were labor costs higher than expected?

Now is the time to review the past year’s operational performance and eliminate problems that could drain next year’s peak season profitability. It’s also a good time to consider warehouse technologies that can be deployed before the 2024 peak season begins.

The following warehouse automation tools can help you absorb volume growth in and out of peak season, as modular solutions or part of an end-to-end warehouse execution system

Blog: The True Cost of NOT Automating Your Warehouse

Order Release Planning Logic

On average, warehouse operators walk about 10 miles a day, or 2,400 miles a year. In discrete picking operations, in which orders are individually picked, this often means returning to the same bin location dozens of times for each order every few hours.

How much productivity can you gain by eliminating redundant tasks and enabling workers to pick multiple orders simultaneously in the optimal pick path?

Order release planning software, such as Numina’s RDS™ Order Release Module, increases picking productivity across the entire distribution center (DC). RDS includes algorithms to select orders based on several variables to more efficiently balance work, modeled on historic picking performance and real-time metrics of the DC’s zone picking performance. 

Optimized Batch Picking

RDS considers picking tasks and travel time in each zone to synchronize the batch wave picking completion time across the DC.

Numina’s batch-picking module, RDS™ BatchBot™, combines the power order release software with autonomous mobile robots working alongside employees. BatchBot provides many benefits, such as:

  • Eliminates Repetitive Walking: By selecting a group of orders with like items to pick at once, ten or more orders at a time, employees reduce repetitive visits to the storage bin to once or twice per hour.
  • Significantly Reduces Labor Costs: Batch picking rates are 2X faster than discrete picking rates when operators are accurately directed by technology to pick multiple items at a time into cartons or totes and validate tasks with barcode scanning.
  • Increases Productivity: Batch picking results in faster fulfillment. More orders are completed/hour at a lower labor cost/hour.

This wave-based batch-picking capability increases picking density, speed, and productivity throughout the order fulfillment operation, which is why many facilities are adopting this strategy to streamline the order fulfillment operation.

Result: RDS Batchbot, combined with RDS order release planning and voice technology, can double picking productivity, without adding staff.

Cartonization Software

Relying on employees to manually choose shipping cartons during order packing is time-consuming, costly, error-prone, and often results in unexpected shipping charges.

With Numina’s RDS Cartonization software module, you can accelerate fulfillment, eliminate errors, and reduce unplanned post-shipment charges from the carrier.

RDS Cartonization automatically selects the most efficient carton size to reduce unused carton space, reduce void fill costs, and ensure the order is packed to take advantage of the lowest possible shipping rates.

Result: RDS Cartonization, when combined with Numina’s Voice Picking and Pick-to-Light solutions, can increase picking productivity by 35% to 50%. Packing efficiency increases by 100% because packers no longer need to perform carton selection or perform secondary inspections.

Voice Picking Technology to Accelerate Picking

Another solution to increase peak season throughput without adding to headcount is to implement voice-picking technology to replace paper-based picking with voice-guided technology to direct and validate pick, pack, and ship operations.

RDS Victory Voice™ combines the convenience of voice-directed instruction, wireless headsets, and hands-free barcode scanners for fast, paperless order picking and task validation.

Victory Voice can improve processes for many tasks, including:

  • Picking automation – batch, discrete cart picking, and pick to conveyor.
  • Voice + hands-free 2D barcode scanning for SKU, aerial, and lot code capture.
  • Kitting for assembly and manufacturing
  • Warehouse receiving, replenishment, and inspection.

Victory Voice requires zero voice training and does not capture or record the operator’s voice biometrics. It’s easy and intuitive, so operators are productive in as little as 15 minutes. Its speed and performance are superior to Alexa, Google, and Siri due to the combination of its finite state logic and voice recognition.

Result: Numina’s voice-picking solution can increase productivity by 30% to 50% and increase accuracy to 99.9%.

Touchless Document Prep and Insertion

Do you rely on employees to insert documents into shipping cartons? You can eliminate repetitive manual tasks, reduce labor requirements, and dramatically increase productivity by automating printing, folding, and inserting documents and labels into shipping cartons.

RDS Print-Fold-Insert (PFI), Numina Group’s highly advanced family of document print-and-insert and print-and-apply labeling technologies, is designed for high-volume, high-performance fulfillment operations.

PFI performs automated document print-on-demand and precision placement of documents into an open carton or tote. PFI automatically prints, stacks, folds, and inserts up to ten 8.5″ x 11″ packing sheet documents into a shipping carton or tote.

PFI employs the industry’s fastest on-demand printing technology and supports single-sided or duplex printing with graphics or customer logos onto blank paper or pre-printed forms. PFI supports a wide variety of carton sizes.

PFI can also include inline vision capture/audit, weight inspection, and semi-automatic or auto-taper sealers. Shipment labor can be further streamlined by adding inline scan, weigh, dimensioning, and print-and-apply solutions to automate retail label application and UPS/Fed Ex shipping, labeling, and order manifesting.

Result: PFI turns a labor-intensive, time-consuming process into a high-speed, touchless operation that frees up workers for other activities.

Automate Pack and Ship Operations

You can also increase order throughput, with less labor, by automating the pack and ship operations, which are often managed by workers performing manual packing and manifesting tasks such as tote-based picking, order packing, keystrokes, hand weighing, & hand-applying shipping labels and packing slip documentation.

Pakt™, Numina’s all-in-one pack-and-ship solution automates the final 100′ of a DC’s order fulfillment operation. Pakt includes predeveloped modules that streamline labor and eliminate fulfillment bottlenecks in the pack-and-ship operation.

Result: Pakt reduces pack and ship labor by 70% and yields a 500% increase in throughput.

How to Maximize Efficiency Gains

While all of these automation options deliver powerful productivity improvements as modular solutions, you will achieve the highest performance improvements and ROI by when deploying them in an end-to-end warehouse execution system (WES) such as Numina’s RDS platform.

Blog: How a Warehouse Execution System Enriches Your ERP and WMS Systems

RDS unites the latest warehouse automation technologies with existing or new Warehouse Management WMS/ERP systems. RDS offers a cost-effective solution to extend the life and functionality of your existing ERP/WMS software.

Getting Started

The most important first step is to develop an warehouse automation design roadmap that defines and rates the improvement initiatives based on the highest-yielding savings along with an assessment document on the strengths and weaknesses within your existing business software.

The Numina Group is uniquely qualified to help you determine the best warehouse automation strategy for your company. The Numina Group is a top-tier designer and integrator of warehouse automation solutions, offering decades of experience in warehouse design, warehouse software, material handling equipment, systems integration, and implementation services for mid-to-large-sized enterprises.

Our team has designed and successfully implemented over 1,000 warehouse automation projects in diverse warehouse environments throughout North America.

Contact us to schedule a complimentary on-site warehouse assessment today.


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