Automated stock management can boost production performance

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UK companies have long recognised that automated manufacturing and assembly processes are vital for staying competitive in world markets, with equipment such as robots, automated assembly lines, CNC systems and conveyors a common sight throughout the industry. Couzens Storage Solutions puts the case that extending similar levels of advanced automation technology into storage and stock management can have a powerful impact on production and total plant productivity

According to the British Automation and Robot Association (BARA), some 1,250 robots were installed by UK companies in 2011, up almost threefold since 2009 and the highest figure for more than a decade. So it’s evident that companies are prepared to invest in automation even in today’s tough environment.

While investing in more modern storage systems such as narrow aisle equipment to save space is a widespread practice, fewer manufacturers have recognised the full potential that more advanced and automated systems such as lifts and carousels can provide.

Space saving

Lifts and carousels use a series of storage levels stacked above each other to heights of up to 14m, providing safe and secure storage and picking, and outstandingly efficient use of floor and cube space. With the potential to cut storage footprint by up to 90 per cent, they can release valuable productive space, may help avoid the cost and disruption of relocation or even enable a company to consolidate operations and reduced total property costs. As they can be bespoke designed to use often overlooked overhead space, carousels and lifts are well suited to improve space utilisation in older buildings or where room is restricted.  

Flexible, efficient storage

Able to hold an almost limitless range of products and materials, from high value, tiny electronic components, up to individual loads of five tonnes – including awkward items such as jigs, tools, castings, cable and sheet metal stock – carousels and lifts are increasingly popular in manufacturing and engineering environments.

Trays are individually configured to hold whatever items the user needs to store, either in totes and containers, or as individual items. Once the operator has selected which items are needed, the relevant tray is automatically delivered to a comfortable and safe picking level in seconds.

Smart technologies

Systems such as those supplied by Couzens Storage Solutions incorporate the latest IT and software with equipment including biometric access and security devices, barcode readers, on-screen images for faster, more accurate picking, and pick and place-to-light technology. As a result they can be integrated with MRP/ERP systems, conveyors, forming part of a fully integrated, productive stock control and management process.

Improved productivity

As well as using space and stock more efficiently, carousels and lifts routinely provide far more effective use of staff time and effort.  Instead of searching through a warehouse, items are delivered directly to the picker, saving time and improving accuracy. Existing staff can easily cope with increased throughput or be allocated to other tasks. 

Proven results

Aluminium profile building systems company SAPA recently installed two Couzens Modula storage systems giving the business the scope to consolidate three existing promises into one. The units have been designed to store an estimated 153,000 items and 1,258 lines including fixings, seals, handles, brackets and other components for its Gloucester-based replacement window and conservatory business. They are being used to hold small and medium parts to support production and customer installations, while longer profiles are stored on cantilever racking. 

Power Engineering Services, E.ON’s turbine repair and service facility uses a heavy duty TowerMat vertical lift storage unit to store high value metal bar. It can hold up to 140,000kg of stock on a footprint of only 30m², and uses advanced software to manage expensive materials in the most efficient manner. The project is expected to release around 250m² of workshop space and help to consolidate stocks from other locations, saving space, overheads and stocking costs.

With the hoped for improvements in UK manufacturing and the need to compete internationally, automating storage and stock management provides a proven, efficient and fast way to improve productivity – and with a swift ROI.

Couzens Storage Solutions

T: 01442 250010

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