Automation has been in use for centuries in the form of water wheels, windmills, and water pumps. However, these devices don’t look like automation to modern eyes. They require human oversight and labor to keep running. Modern automation, on the other hand, replaces human effort instead of just supplementing it. One of the places that industrial automation has been most effective in replacing human effort is in the logistics chain. Warehouse automation backed by Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and other software has reached the point that it is replacing labor in ways that weren’t thought possible a decade ago.
Intelligent automation is offering new possibilities for warehouses by combining heavy equipment with programmable logic. Conditional statements like “if this, then this” allow nearly every scenario in the warehouse to be planned out and accounted for. Warehouse automation can now operate with minimal human oversight. While automated equipment was incorporated into warehouses as early as the 1970s, it took the form of equipment like conveyor belts and palletizers. Today, as computers grow cheaper and more powerful and innovations like the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) become more feasible, forward-thinking leaders in logistics are realizing the full potential of intelligent warehouse automation to increase efficiency, improve safety, lower labor costs, and reduce a company’s Total Cost of Business (TCOB).