Storage optimization specialists

In the last few years there has been more and more talk about warehouse automation and VLMs (Vertical Lift Modules) or more simply, automatic vertical warehouses. These are the solution for improving your business efficiency. Are they really so efficient and effective?

If you are not convinced, here are 6 reasons which will convince you to invest in an automatic vertical tray warehouse:

1 – So you will never again be able to say “I don’t know where that product is“

This is surely the main reason. You will have had to prepare an order and not know where the products are, either because you don’t remember or because the person who does know where the products are, is not around at the moment, or because of a thousand other reasons. With an automatic vertical warehouse, none of this ever happens. This is because each time you deposit products into the warehouse they are recorded in the database by the software which manages it. In this way, every operator, even the one who just started yesterday, will know exactly where every single product is located in the warehouse.

2 – So you don’t make unprofitable investments

We often fall into the same trap of thinking that the only solution to increasing our capacity to register and store products in our existing structures is to increase the physical space in the warehouse. Before you take this very costly step, stop and think for a moment. Are you really sure you are putting your currently available space to the best use? An automatic warehouse allows you to store products using the full height of your warehouse, up to 16 metres, and save up to 90% of your floor space. How is this possible? Because with a vertical warehouse you can store 80 cubic metres and 90,000 kg of stock in just 16 m2.

3 – So you don’t have orders returning and dissatisfied customers

Knowing the precise location of every product in your warehouse, you can quickly retrieve them and start preparing your orders safe in the knowledge that you have the correct products and haven’t forgotten any.

One of the greatest advantages of this new technology and therefore a good reason to choose it, is that automatic vertical warehouses allow you to automate order preparation: just send the correctly formatted list of products on the order to the management system. The warehouse then proceeds automatically to pick all the items on the order from tray after tray and place them in the delivery bay, ready to be wrapped and despatched.

This then allows you to create an automatic operational flow such as: semi-finished products -> finished product -> order preparation if the order you are preparing is made up of products made by you, or simply assembled by you. In other words, by linking your business management system to your warehouse you can transfer the picking list directly from the business management system to the vertical warehouse once production of the items on the order is complete and confirmed.

4 – So you don’t have to give up your Christmas holidays to do your inventory

How many times have you had to give up your Christmas holidays or cancel your employees’ holidays to do an inventory? Too many perhaps.
With an automatic vertical warehouse, this will never happen again. Thanks to the management system which keeps track of all operations and all stock movements, you can perform an inventory at any time with one click. For example, by connecting your warehouse and factory management systems, you can consult your inventory in real time, handily subdivided into raw materials, semi-finished products and finished products. All you have to do is divide up your stored items according to your operational flow patterns and let the machine keep track of everything.

5 – So products are not damaged and have to be discarded

When Storage Units have to be retrieved manually by an operator who is required to climb up and down a ladder, falls or other incidents which can injure people or damage goods are often reported. Also when products have to be moved frequently around the warehouse to either reposition them or simply to move them to the order preparation area, products often get damaged when they are dropped or are shunted against other products or simply through the carelessness of your staff. With automatic vertical warehouses, all your products are completely secure in their trays and move around without incurring any danger.

6 – So you can save, save, save

If you have read everything this far, you will know that an automatic vertical tray warehouse can save you lots of space, time and above all, money. Speeded up picking operations, improved security of goods, inventory operations with one click are just some of the advantages offered by this new technology.

Article source

Modula lift
Products that might interest you:
MODULA Automated Storage Systems

Storage optimization specialists

In the world of logistics, the efficiency of each movement is a fundamental pillar for business success; in an industry where speed and precision have become essential, every well-stocked or handled item plays a decisive role in ensuring the proper flow of operations.

For example, efficient pallet management, both in the warehouse and in production, is of great importance in many sectors and industrial contexts. Many companies are faced with complex challenges in administering and handling these loading units and often also encounter delays and inefficiencies in the production process.

An effective response to these logistics needs has always been a primary goal for us at Modula; during our numerous visits to clients’ warehouses and production departments, we observed and understood the importance of providing innovative and efficient solutions, to revolutionise the management of pallets in warehouses. Hence the idea of developing alternative technologies to traditional storage systems, such as stacker cranes or AS/RS.
To fully understand the impact and potential of this idea, we asked the first client who installed the new automated vertical lift module for pallets to tell us about their experience.


How to automate pallet handling with Modula

Malagoli Aldebrando – a Modena-based carpentry company specialising in laser cutting, bending, welding and machining for various sectors such as agriculture, automotive, furniture and shipbuilding – manages on a daily basis a wide range of materials and components that require a well-structured logistics organisation. Given the significant amount of work and materials handled, the company was faced with the need to optimise the management of its pallets, to ensure an efficient and safe production flow

“Before the arrival of the Modula Pallet, we used about 80 m² of warehouse space to store pallets. To move them, however, an operator qualified to drive the forklifts and move loads within warehouses and production environments was needed.

Introducing this Modula solution – following the installation of two Modula Lifts – marked a fundamental turning point for Malagoli Aldebrando.“Thanks to this innovative machine, our company immediately reclaimed valuable floor space, optimising the use of production environments and significantly improving ergonomics and safety in the workplace”.

How to improve load storage and handling

It is clear that the introduction of the Modula Pallet at Malagoli Aldebrando has led to significant improvements in the management and handling of loads, bringing with it numerous tangible advantages for the company.

First of all, the use of the Modula Pallet has enabled the company to handle considerable numbers of pallets with extreme ease and speed.

“With an intuitive interface like the Modula copilot‘s, the process of loading and unloading materials has become efficient and safe: we currently load all the materials with a simple pallet truck, making the most of the convenience offered by the Modula Pallet. Plus, despite the size of the machine, the Modula Pallet was installed quickly and smoothly, in about three weeks (roughly five days for the Modula Lift). The technicians are genuinely very efficient and professional”.

Anotheradvantage of introducing automatic warehouses has been found in terms of the staff involved in pallet storage.

“Before installation, there were two permanent operators in the pallet area of the warehouse. These people have now been moved into production, thanks to the automation guaranteed by the Modula Pallet”.

Importance of software integration in logistics processes

The efficiency and optimisation of logistics at Malagoli Aldebrando are ensured not only by the use of Modula warehouses, but also by the integration of specialist software such as Modula WMS and Modula Cloud. These tools play a vital role in keeping track of every single activity in the warehouse and ensuring precise and effective material management.

“The Modula WMS software ensures we can monitor and manage all three of the company’s vertical warehouses, processing data relating to access, picking and depositing movements, as well as handling positions and quantities of goods. This level of traceability and control enables us to maintain an orderly and efficient workflow, minimising the risk of errors and delays. Finally, installing Modula Cloud provides us with easy access to all the information we need on vertical warehouses through a simple web interface”.

These integrated tools give operators an interactive map of Modula’s automatic warehouses, to decide which information to show and to provide further flexibility and control over logistics operations.

The implementation of Modula products and the integration of specialist software have radically transformed logistics management at Malagoli Aldebrando, demonstrating the tangible value of an innovative, cutting-edge solution. Thanks to Modula solutions, the company has made significant improvements to operational efficiency, workplace safety and workflow control.

Article source

Modula lift
Products that might interest you:
MODULA Automated Storage Systems

Storage optimization specialists

The percentage of purchases made online has grown exponentially in the last few years: more than 320 million people in Europe made at least one purchase on an e-commerce site in the last year and almost 80% make at least one purchase a month.

This makes e-commerce a great opportunity for all businesses, enabling them to reduce the distance between their end customers and their products by enabling consumers to make a purchase from their own home, with a simple mouse click, using their computer or smartphone.

However, for businesses this poses a major question: how can they manage e-commerce logistics quickly and efficiently?

The first step is without a doubt to consider all the “routine” problems which might adversely affect the performance of an e-commerce operation, such as deliveries by suppliers or excessively bulky packaging. Then the entire issue of warehouse management has to be considered, if necessary with the help of experts in e-commerce and general logistics.

a new approach to logistics

E-commerce: a new approach to logistics

From storage to freight to reverse logistics and returns management, from packaging to delivery: logistics as we have always known it has to evolve into e-commerce logistics.

The main aim is customer satisfaction, considering that customers expect to receive goods on time, intact and, above all, with no additional costs. To do all this it is essential to apply clearly defined strategies and review the warehouse’s whole logistics management model.

Speeding up e-commerce picking operations: it’s much easier with automatic warehouses

One initial step in speeding up picking operations might be to consider a new solution as a replacement for shelving warehouses: one of the best options is definitely the automatic vertical warehouse.

In contrast with the traditional concept, in which the operator moves around inside the warehouse looking for the articles he needs, with the technology of an automatic vertical warehouse the goods are brought to the operator, who does not move from his workstation. All this allows tidy, safe organisation of goods, but above all allows faster picking operations, for e-commerce and in warehouses in general.

E-commerce logistics: warehouse management for faster reverse logistics

The introduction of e-commerce into businesses is a gradual process, which may take place in different ways depending on the organisation’s size. However, one factor must be considered even before the portal is opened: how can reverse logistics, meaning simply returns, be accelerated within the warehouse?

Reverse logistics is a major weapon in the battle for market shares: in fact, over a two-year period consumers tend to reduce their purchases by 100% on sites with a charge for returning goods, but to increase them by up to 457% on sites with free returns.

So efficient management of the return of products is essential to ensure complete customer satisfaction. It is estimated that about 10% of online purchases are returned to the seller, although in sectors such as fashion the percentages can be as high as over than 20%.

This implies the need to reorganise the whole logistics operation, with the aim of speeding up reverse logistics as much as possible, in order to minimise the associated costs.


Modula automatic warehouses: the integrated solution for e-commerce logistics

Modula automatic vertical warehouses are the appropriate solution for all the logistics problems of an e-commerce business: created to make full use of all the height available, saving floor space, vertical technologies are suitable for any type of product, in any industry or sector, since they can be customised with different payloads, heights, sizes and accessories.

Modula allows you to store goods in an organised, clean, secure and fast system, reducing the number of movements operators have to make and avoiding damage to your goods. Packaging, cardboard boxes and returned goods can be stored in a single warehouse, regardless of size and weight. A single storage tray has a payload of 990 kg and remains balanced even if the load it contains is off balance. What’s more, Modula can calculate how the storage trays should be placed to optimise the gaps between them.

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Modula lift
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MODULA Automated Storage Systems

Storage optimization specialists

Safety in the warehouse is a fundamental element for effective workplace management and is synonymous with quality of production and of your workplace environment. A safe warehouse means fewer accidents, fewer problems, fewer delays during operations and fewer incidents.

In fact, although these last factors primarily have negative repercussions for your staff, they can also affect the financial health of your business. Frequent accidents mean a reduction in efficiency, replacement of staff, possible extra recruitment, insurance policies and government inspections.

The starting point for eliminating all critical factors which conspire to make a warehouse less safe, and therefore less efficient, is to identify what the actual problems are. The most common “symptoms” which indicate problems with warehouse management in terms of safety are generally as follows:

  • Damaged goods
  • Disorganised warehouse
  • Complaints by operators about onerous tasks or heavy loads
  • Frequent accidents
  • If you become aware that one of the above problems is occurring constantly, then the time has come to think about the safety of your warehouse.
  • When we talk about safety, it’s important to distinguish between the two different types:
  1. Safety of personnel working in the warehouse: everything that relates to the people working in the warehouse and the various activities they perform when moving goods around, but also the weight limits imposed by manual handling regulations, obstacles and distances between objects depending on whether handling is being carried out manually or using mechanical vehicles.
  2. Security of goods: everything that relates to the goods being stored. Everything in the warehouse has a value, so theft and damage will negatively impact the business’ bottom line. For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to how goods are being stored in order to avoid this type of issue.
    Let’s take a look in more detail.

Protecting operators

Looking after the people who work in the warehouse is an absolutely fundamental issue. In this case, the concept of safety can be split into two methods: adoption of accident prevention measures or the ability to intervene effectively when an accident occurs. We all know that prevention is better than cure, and it’s always better to pay attention to and invest money in the former. If operational risks are high or if you are getting complaints from your staff relating to safety then you need to take another look at how you are managing your warehouse.

Warehouse safety

How? First of all, you must monitor completely all operations. Don’t leave any out just because they may not be performed very often. They may still pose a significant danger for anyone who performs them and they must obviously be redesigned or eliminated.

Now analyse each individual activity and everything that relates to it. This is so you can understand if the working environment is safe enough for the people working there. Are the goods located on traditional shelving units and therefore are people often required to use stairs or carry heavy loads by hand? How safe is the equipment being used? Is the space between shelving units wide enough to allow people climbing stairs to retrieve the goods safely? What is the likelihood that a load could be dropped by an operator? Are you complying with legal limits? These questions will help you to understand any weak points in your warehouse which can act as the starting point for implementing new safety measures.

If, for example, loads are mainly being moved manually, the risk of incidents or accidents is increased compared to movements made using automatic systems or mechanical equipment. As manual handling requires operators to push, lift or drag even very heavy loads, this carries a much higher risk of objects being overturned and puts the health of operators in jeopardy.

The size of loads also has an influence on the quality of work in the warehouse. If the goods to be moved are large and cumbersome, operators are required to make movements or twisting motions which are dangerous to their safety. For this reason, and in the interests of improving safety in your warehouse, you must design your packaging correctly so that it reduces the effort required by your staff to a minimum, or else you need to rethink how their work is organised.

Keep the warehouse clean and tidy

One simple but fundamental rule which will help you maintain a higher level of safety for your operators is really just about keeping the place clean. Especially where oily substances are used inside the warehouse or where the floor of your working area often gets wet, the risk of accidents occurring is rather high.

It’s a good rule in these cases to warn others of the “danger” as soon as possible and proceed as quickly as possible to remove the spillage. Clean the floor to avoid falls which may be dangerous for operators and at the same time create an obstacle for vehicles used inside the warehouse.

Pay attention particularly to transit areas: avoid any type of obstacle which might cause an accident such as packaging, detritus and stationary vehicles. Operators can get distracted, become tired or simply can’t physically see the danger. However, it’s important that every person working inside the warehouse remains alert to these issues to encourage a workplace which is safer for everybody. Being in a hurry to complete the day’s deliveries can sometimes cause omissions or distractions which can have undesirable consequences in terms of safety.

Organise safety courses for all operators and update staff constantly about regulations

Always give a high degree of importance to training new staff before they start work. This goes especially for those workers who use transport and handling equipment.

Make use of the advice of safety experts so you know what types of courses your operators should be sent on and also find out if your warehouse is effectively compliant and safe.

Pay particular attention where new people are employed and/or when new machinery is being adopted. In both cases, before starting production, you must ensure that you have properly explained all safety regulations that relate to your warehouse to your new employees and, in the latter case, ensure that all methods for using the new machines are clear to everyone.

If any equipment requires specific certification for its use, you must make sure that all those persons who will be using the equipment are in possession of this certification and that it is still valid.

Security of goods

Have you ever found goods have been damaged in the warehouse? Or have you noticed that some products have magically disappeared?

These are definitely symptoms of a failure in the way the warehouse’s security is managed. It could be that your employees are not very careful when moving goods about, that the goods arrive already damaged but nobody says anything, or that orders coming in are not complete (you are receiving lower quantities than you ordered), or that someone does not have a clear conscience.

Resolving this type of problem is simpler than you might think: just keep track of all operations involving the goods. For each order coming in, know with certainty what the quantity is and its relative specifications (model, colour, etc.) but also who was responsible for loading it onto the shelves or moving it around.

One of the simplest ways of doing this is to get yourself some Warehouse Management Software to manage and record day-to-day operations. We recommend that you allocate specific tasks and responsibilities to each person or to groups of people so you can more easily get to the heart of the problem. If a particular product type is regularly proving to be faulty, you could turn to the person responsible for its production and request an explanation. You can then understand if it is a problem with how the warehouse is managed or if the problem is down to a careless supplier.

Warehouse safety

Lots of problems? One single solution which improves security in your warehouse

In the last few years, new types of solutions have been arriving on the market which simplify warehouse management and bring improvements in every area: from improvements to throughput in picking operations to security for the entire storage area.
These are automatic vertical warehouses, dedicated product storage systems which are made up of ultra-robust metal trays propelled automatically by an internal elevator and which are able to hold weights of up to 90,000 kg.

Using a simple digital interface, you can control all the goods in your warehouse and with one click you can bring them directly to the delivery level which can be either internal or external, single or double. As you will have noticed, this avoids all dangerous operations normally carried out by people, such as carrying heavy loads, retrieving them from very tall shelves or gangways and mezzanines, and which are generally the main source of accidents. With automatic vertical warehouses, the operator only has to move the goods from the delivery/loading level which is completely ergonomic, protects the operator’s personal safety and prevents issues related to this type of task.

Another very important aspect is that not everyone has access to the automatic vertical warehouse, only those who have been authorised. In this way, you will know exactly who performed certain loading and unloading actions: who accessed which tray, at what time and in which machine. This will allow you not only to keep watch, in real time, over everything that happens in the warehouse but therefore also better manage orders. Moreover, you will be protected from theft of and damage to your goods.

This type of warehouse is recommended for any type of product, from small items up to heavy weights and even expensive goods and allows you to store goods with different sizes and weights thanks to the use of Dynamic Tray Height Storage: in other words, the machine organises the trays according to the various heights of the goods stored in them in order to best manage the space available and not waste even a millimetre of it.

Once your goods are organised into the closed trays, they can no longer become damaged and always stay clean. For this reason, all the above problems simply disappear.

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Modula lift
Products that might interest you:
MODULA Automated Storage Systems

Storage optimization specialists

It is well known that keeping a certain amount of merchandise in the form of stock involves costs. In fact, stock is a cash asset which requires a large capital investment and has a direct effect on delivery to customers.

Why does stock accumulate?

The reasons vary greatly, but on the whole stock is essential for covering any shortcomings caused by the temporal inconsistency between supply and demand. To counter this need in the 1980s, the Just in time method was born, an Oriental production philosophy developed within Toyota. “Just in time” fits into a broader methodology of organising production without any waste, pursuing continuous improvement with the aim of creating warehouses without stock and purchasing only when there is demand.  Obviously in many realities, if not exactly in all of them, this is a hypothetical and unrealistic attitude. However, the one thing that we must learn from this philosophy is that limiting the quantity and value of stock stored in warehouses allows large capital savings.

If the goal is to keep stock to a minimum, it is a given that purchases will have to be much more frequent, with little chance of volume-related discounts and high costs in terms of order preparation and despatch times for the procurement department.

On the one hand, therefore, we have the cost of ownership, referring to the stock of inventory goods, on the other the cost of supply, linked to handling a large number of orders.

Inventory management, or stock management, aims to reach a compromise between these two costs while at the same time meeting overall business choices and goals as well as the strategies of each department. In fact, while finance departments prefer to maintain low stock levels to save capital outlays, marketing departments push for high stock levels so as to allow them to offer and increase discounts.

MODULA Automatic warehouse systems

Stock management models: the variables to consider

There are multiple stock management models and there is not one that suits every company.

When deciding which road to go down and what system to adopt, you must consider the following variables:

  • Company goals and business types
  • Type of stocks: raw materials, semi-finished products or finished products
  • Goods Rotation Index: indicates the number of times that goods are “rotated” or “renewed” over a certain period of time within the warehouse
  • Lead time of supply, that is, the time it takes from issuing the order to receiving the ordered goods
  • Demand characteristics: volatility, unpredictability, etc. Two types of demand can be identified: independent demand refers to market conditions and is therefore dependent on factors outside the company and therefore by nature unpredictable, and dependent demand refers to companies that build and assemble a finished product. This is predictable and strictly depends on the final product
  • Available resources to devote to managing and organising stock: human capital and/or physical capital

Given these variables, there are three main questions to ask yourself and to get answers to:

  1. How much to order?
  2. When to order?
  3. How to check the efficiency of the system?

Let’s look at this last aspect.

Managing stock efficiently and effectively

As mentioned earlier, there are several systems for managing stock, and not one can be considered the best across the board. The optimal solution differs from company to company, but there are some common principles that can be implemented regardless of the type of system used and which guarantee effective stock management.

Ascertain the priority of items in the warehouse

An easy way to do this is to use the ABC system and subdivide the products into three categories based on their usage value (high, middle, and low). Generally, it is common to implement this system using Pareto’s law, according to which 80% of sales come from 20% of all items. Items in category A will therefore be those that need more attention. Classifying them in this way allows you to always keep control over availability of the most important stock for production, manage its reordering more efficiently and avoid production downtime.

Always keep inventory data up-to-date

Whenever an action takes place within the warehouse you have to monitor it because it changes the total value of your stock. Only with an up-to-date and true representation of your stock situation at any time can you make effective management decisions.

Plan shelf and compartment layouts so that they can provide a suitable environment for locating and picking items as quickly as possible. It must also be dynamic so that it can be reorganised according to future needs.

Adopt management software

With software, you can automate management of stock movements and simplify it, keep track of all transactions and reduce errors.

Managing warehouse

And what if there were a solution to automate and simplify stock management?

This topic gets talked about more and more, and the answer is automatic vertical tray warehouses. This is a simple solution, and much simpler than fully automatic warehouses. These automatic machines are able to facilitate the management of all items in the warehouseincluding stocks. Arranged vertically, they have an automatic tray handling system and an operator interface that allows you to handle picking and loading requests with just one click. In most cases, they integrate perfectly into your company’s network so that you can monitor all actions performed by any operator.

This solution requires only a limited budget (depending, of course, on the number of machines you want to acquire), and you can keep an eye on your stock situation which is updated in real time. Not only that, automatic vertical warehouses are able to manage your stock automatically and report any items in need of reorder.

Remember that they are machines, and so they will remain. There is therefore a certain amount of research necessary on your part beyond this current session to find the best solution for your business in order to decide when and how many to order. The above points remain valid (variables and decisions to be considered), but if properly planned, inventory management and automatic vertical warehouses can offer an absolutely optimal solution: they reduce errors (almost to the point of eliminating them entirely), save space, time and ensure maximum security for your goods and safety for your operators.

Article source

Modula lift
Products that might interest you:
MODULA Automated Storage Systems

Storage optimization specialists

Doing inventory is always a chore for anyone, whether you are talking about a small or medium-sized business or a complex and multi-site supply chain.
The volume of items changes, and so do the staff involved, but it is always a boring operation that takes a lot of time which could be better spent in some other way.

Can you not just do away with inventory then?

Unfortunately, no, as it is a fundamental task for controlling your warehouse’s situation in terms of its stocks of materials, products and semi-finished products at the end of a given period. This activity is sometimes done periodically by some companies to avoid problems with reordering and production.

If you are managing an e-commerce store, doing inventory is even more important for reducing discrepancies between physical stocks and the numbers held in your online shop. The modern consumer is knowledgeable and demanding. They expect speed and cost-effectiveness from product distribution systems and for this reason Distribution Centres have taken on a strategic role in the supply chain. They must therefore be managed in the best way possible, even if this means doing the inventory several times a year to maintain precise information about product availability and quantities.

The advent of new technologies has brought many benefits to industrial processes and in particular to the automation of warehouse management with many positive implications for running inventory. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, first of all we need to understand the three main reasons why inventory is needed.

Regulatory obligations

First of all, it is worthwhile remembering that doing inventory is required to fulfil statutory and fiscal principles for quantifying and evaluating remainders. In particular, inventory is fundamental to completing your year end accounts, must be completed upon setting up your business and every year thereafter.

In this last case, it must relate to the specific company year end date and contain all goods divided into categories according to type as well as the value of each individual item in order to be able to estimate your company’s worth in terms of assets and liabilities and then be recorded in your inventory records.

Ensure efficiency in the production process

The second reason concerns the management of the warehouse itself and of orders. A precise and consistently executed inventory allows you to keep track of all goods inwards and goods despatched.

Any delays due to, for example, the lack of a raw material needed for the production process will negatively affect your company’s overall profits.

Getting precise stock availability

A very common problem is not having precise information about actual stock availability due to discrepancies between the goods physically in the warehouse and their expected quantity.

To avoid such discrepancies, simply keep a meticulous eye on all operations carried out in the warehouse so that you can watch for any goods which are being depleted and proceed to reorder them in time for production and/or despatching the order to the customer.

To optimise this, the best solution is to schedule the reordering of items to take into account lead times for delivery to the customer and delivery from your suppliers.


How do you do a warehouse inventory quickly?

The ways you can carry out your inventory can be grouped into the following four categories.

Paper and pen (and calculator)

This is the traditional method and definitely only suitable if you have a small warehouse and a limited number of products. In this case, the first thing you have to do is to divide your products into categories; there are no pre-defined categories so it is up to you to find the best way to subdivide them according to your business.

Next, proceed with further product subdivisions, taking into account the speed with which the items are running out so you can keep watch on the ones that require frequent reordering.
To get an overview of the warehouse stock situation write information next to each product macro category which includes the names of your suppliers and your minimum required stock level.
Then label the shelves and catalogue the goods by annotating everything on multiple sheets and creating tables that reflect the physical subdivisions inside the warehouse.
You can then, for example, create a table with information on which category the goods belong to, product arrival date, product cost, quantity, etc., and thus create a proper database.
Keep the sheet constantly up-to-date so you don’t find yourself having too many cataloguing operations all at once. This would increase the likelihood of errors.

Excel spreadsheet

A simple solution to speed up inventory operations is to manage the warehouse efficiently, carefully and meticulously. This means constantly keeping track of all the operations that take place inside it: despatch, orders, stocks, returns, and so on. If you do not have the possibility of using business management software that can do this automatically for you, you can use a simple Excel spreadsheet.

In this way, at the end of the year you will not have to waste valuable time checking over everything, but instead you will have detailed summary tables in front of you.

Here are some tips for building a warehouse management application using Excel spreadsheets that allow you to speed up inventory operations.

  • Use three separate sheets:

    – one for products, where you record the complete list of goods with their relative supplier and stock information
    – one for goods inwards movements to record the date of arrival and quantity of goods in the warehouse
    – one sheet for despatches

  • If your warehouse is used for stocking raw materials, semi-finished products and finished products, in this case use three separate sheets to distinguish them
  • Connect these sheets together. How? For example, report the column containing the actual stock figure from the product table into the sheet containing despatch information. In this way, before confirming despatch, you can safely check actual availability without delay and, of course, by only having to update one single sheet you can keep all your data updated in real time
  • To automate operations, use drop-down menus. For example, in the order sheet, create a drop-down menu which allows you to select the products relating to the order to be despatched from those listed in the first “Products” sheet.
    There are many pre-compiled sheets available online that can help you build your Excel file. However, this is still only a tool which can certainly be very helpful but only if kept constantly up-to-date.

Warehouse Management Software

If this activity is central to your business and is worth making an investment that will repay you over time, then you may opt for management software.

A Warehouse Management System (WMS) actually allows you to keep track of all handling operations that take place inside your warehouse. Combining this with the use of mobile terminals, such as barcode or RFID readers, operators can very quickly and very easily keep the situation under control.

Inventory control using WMS is constantly up-to-date and this allows you to speed up the calculations needed for your Company Accounts, which, as stated above, are required for fiscal and statutory reasons.
In fact, your company accounts need to show details and values of the assets and liabilities relating to your business, and all goods divided into categories according to type and value must be listed, including an indication of each category’s value.

Your management system will also contain all your historical records, so auditing any mistakes will be really easy. As every single company is different, your software can be set up according to individual needs and individual production streams.


Vertical warehouses

An all-in-one solution. Automatic vertical warehouses are a solution that allows you to automate your warehouse at low cost, and also resolve your inventory problems. This technology will replace your old shelves, which are bulky and impractical for handling goods, and not at all ergonomic for your operators.
Automatic vertical warehouses are structures up to 16 metres tall, and in which trays move around. These trays can hold up to 990 kg and are propelled by internal elevators which bring them directly to the delivery level.

The trays inside the warehouse can hold products of different height, size, volume and weight. The software can adjust the unit height automatically thus maximising the vertical space inside the warehouse and avoiding waste, with a tray storage pitch of 25 mm.

The vertical warehouse WMS allows you to manage your orders automatically via a convenient PC interface: simply select the product you are looking for, enter the quantity and submit the request. In just a few seconds the product you were looking for will be made available on the delivery level. Not only that: the software will keep a record of this operation automatically and you will be able to do your inventory with one click.

In fact, the WMS monitors all movements and knows how many products there are in the warehouse and where they are located: get the stock situation at any time with just one click and have your inventory in real time.

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In the current economic climate, efficiency and integration play a key part in paving the way to success in business. A crucial contribution on this front is made by modern ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems for comprehensive coordination of all of a company’s resources, including staff, machinery, goods and assets.

But what exactly would ERP implementation entail for your organization and how can it improve your business management processes? In this post, we’ll take an in-depth look at ERP software and highlight its benefits, while also explaining how it can be integrated with other systems, focusing in particular on warehouse management systems (WMS), to keep your storage facilities running efficiently.

What are ERP systems and where do their origins lie?

Today’s ERP systems could be described as the brains behind companies, because they are used for synergistic planning, management and monitoring of business processes in all departments. It’s all made possible by networked connections between the different areas of businesses and a constant flow of information that ultimately enables decision-making processes to be coordinated in real time.

The forerunners of ERP – MRP and MRP II systems – were created to boost communication between the logistics and production areas of organizations, at a time when profitability largely depended on the cost of raw materials. Over time, ERP systems became increasingly integrated and began to encompass other areas of organizations that would benefit from automation and monitoring, as people realized that the advances in computing had something to offer for all departments.

Nowadays, the name ERP II is used to describe increasingly open management systems that can be used for integrated interaction not only within companies but also with other stakeholders, such as banks, customers, suppliers, retailers and technicians.


Why should we make the move to an ERP solution?

The main reason for switching to Enterprise Resource Planning systems is the one mentioned above: the scope to integrate the different areas of your organization and create a single, all-embracing system that enables you to assess the impact of individual activities on your company as a whole.

It can be a key factor in the success of your business, because it boosts efficiency and profitability by providing various features to support your processes. Therein lie the core advantages of ERP software.

The benefits of ERP software

The comprehensive range of features offered by ERP systems and the integration of these solutions within companies open up a host of incredible opportunities. Modern business management software presents a vast array of configuration and customization options that can be tailored to suit an organization’s specific needs, by choosing between different modules.

The benefits of ERP systems generally tend to include the following:

  • Greater operational efficiency and fewer errors, thanks to the automation of processes that do not require human intervention.
  • Better coordination between departments, thanks to real-time sharing of data.
  • Better financial control, thanks to meticulous management of deadlines.
  • Enhanced capacity to respond to changes in the market, thanks to the constant availability of up-to-date reports that allow executives to react by making informed decisions.
  • In addition, ERP systems are designed to grow with the companies that use them, so they can be integrated and changed at any time in order to adapt to developments in the business.


The importance of integration between ERP and WMS for efficient warehouses

So far, we’ve seen how enormous the benefits of adopting an ERP system can be in terms of efficiency, visibility and coordination of decision-making processes when running a business.

However, when it comes to logistics management, ERP software alone is not enough because it does not come with all of the advanced features needed to adapt to various specific needs (such as supply chain management) or optimize all logistics processes.

Much of the efficiency in business depends on what happens in the warehouse. With that in mind, all companies that require sophisticated warehouse management features should adopt WMS software, a warehouse management system that is specifically designed to control the logistics chain.

In order to ensure that your business ecosystem remains cohesive and you’re making the most of your WMS and ERP systems, it’s essential for the two to interact with each other. Therefore, you need to integrate the two systems. The roles they perform might be different, but they all play a crucial part in your organization.

Integrating ERP and WMS

Integrating WMS and ERP systems involves enabling secure data sharing between the two, so that there’s a constant flow of information in both directions, with the roles of the master and slave being reversed as and when necessary. This means that – when integration is done properly – all updates in one system (which will have an impact on the other) are sent in real time.

Integration between WMS and ERP systems can be carried out using APIs, Web Services (XML/Data Sets), text files or databases. For example, integrating Modula WMS Premium with major ERP systems is quick and simple thanks to the standard integration options that are ready for use.

Our consultants are ERP-WMS integration experts and they’re aware of the importance of implementing everything properly in order to keep the shared data secure. They will plan every step in the process alongside you and carry out all the tests required to ensure there are no communication errors.

Nowadays, WMS and ERP systems have become essential tools for all organizations that want to optimize their logistics management and stay competitive in the market.

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Warehouse logistics is an ecosystem of solutions and tools that coexist and operate in synergy to achieve common goals, including efficient storage and preservation of goods and order preparation. Technological evolution has made warehouses a key component of ongoing progress, thanks to the use of systems which are capable of speeding up the management of goods and order preparation, enhancing operating conditions, reducing errors, and increasing productivity. These efforts towards more efficient warehouse operations certainly involve personnel, too: warehouse operators are no longer simple workers but the coordinators of an advanced, easy to manage and innovative system designed to facilitate their work.

In the complex world of warehouse logistics, we can distinguish:

  • storage solutions, that is, the actual structures where goods are stored, such as automatic vertical and horizontal storage systems;
  • software designed to manage warehouse automation and to be integrated with automatic storage systems;
  • picking solutions, that is, systems that optimize the preparation of orders starting from the picking of goods from the storage areas.

In this article we will explore picking solutions and analyse their impact on warehouse logistics.

The put to light system and the elements that enhance its functionality

The put to light system is a picking solution developed to achieve greater efficiency in warehouse managementgoods picking, and order preparation. The put to light system can make use of two elements that enhance its functionality, designed to work in synergy and to further improve warehouse logistics: the picking cart and the picking station.

Let’s start from the heart of the system, the put to light, which is the perfect solution for faster, more practical and intuitive order preparation. The put to light is part of the outbound internal logistics flow and is a valid aid in the sorting of goods. In fact, in the put to light system displays positioned on counters or roller conveyors visually guide the operator to the individual areas where the picked products and items must be placed. More precisely, each specific position is dynamically associated with an order and is combined with a lighted display that indicates to the operator where to place the item(s) and in what quantity. Through the implementation of dedicated WMS (Warehouse Management Software), it is possible to manage different picking processes such as batch picking (same SKU to be distributed on different orders) or multi-order picking (simultaneous preparation of multiple orders without batch picking). The put to light system can be applied to both automatic storage systems and traditional storage structures such as static shelving.

After introducing the put to light (PTL) system, it is time to further explain the characteristics and functions of two critical elements supporting the put to light method, the picking station and the picking cart:

  • Picking station

Picking Station

The picking station can be considered the infrastructure (hardware) of the put to light (the core system). It is an intermediate storage point, consisting of a sturdy coated steel structure equipped with multiple shelves for the containers where the goods are placed. Each container is associated with a put to light display with its own control unit and power supply. The picking station can be used in combination with manual or automatic handling systems like belt conveyors. The picking stations are modular and thus can be placed side by side to expand the operating area (with operators on one side or both sides), which is very useful when it is necessary to process multiple orders simultaneously. The basic structure of the picking station can be customized with additional modules, to facilitate, for example, the installation of monitors, barcode readers, label printers or other accessories.

  • Picking cart 

Picking Station

The picking cart is a steel trolley equipped with 4 pivoting wheels, designed to be maneuvered with extreme ease. It has shelves for containers, put to light displays with the related control units, power or backup batteries, and WiFi systems for wireless connectivity. The picking cart can be moved manually by the operator or by autonomous mobile robots. The picking cart can be used with vertical or horizontal automatic storage systems as well as with “traditional” storage systems based on static shelving. Picking carts facilitate the handling of goods throughout the warehouse.

Picking stations and picking carts can also be supported by specific picking applications for smartphones and mobile devices which track picking and placing operations within the entire warehouse.

The advantages of picking solutions for warehouse logistics

All these new picking tools are aimed at improving the safety and efficiency of the warehouse personnel. The put to light, the picking station and the picking cart are 3 complementary elements which can work in synergy to improve productivity, a critical factor for many sectors such as distribution. Some of the main objectives of the picking solutions include:

  • improve operating speed (for example, the number of picking operations in a given time unit) and therefore obtain savings in terms of processing time;
  • increase precision and significantly reduce errors (which can occur in the case of manual processing);
  • minimize the impact of reverse logistics;
  • implement high-performance picking aids which require limited maintenance and upgrades to always guarantee top efficiency.

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Manufacturers worldwide are facing significant challenges as industries rapidly digitize and automate towards Smart Factory Industry 4.0 operations.

However, despite the proliferation of robotics and interconnected processes, many manufacturing aspects have only partially embraced Industry 4.0 initiatives.

To meet the challenges of modern manufacturing, Smart Factory solutions are becoming essential.

The urgent need for smart factory solutions

Supply chain executives across various industries must balance production runs, inventory volumes, and delivery schedules efficiently.

In pursuit of higher efficiencyreduced energy consumption, and cost optimization, manufacturers are closely evaluating their manufacturing and distribution models. Smart Factory connectivity offers an optimal solution to address these challenges.

Optimizing Small-Piece Storage and Fulfillment with Smart Factory Solutions

Lean warehousing

In today’s Smart Factory warehouse, the heart of efficient operations lies in the automated storagepicking, and fulfillment of small-piece items and finished goods. Whether it’s handling finished goods, replacement parts, retail e-commerce micro-fulfillment, tool cribs, or kitting for assembly, an automated storage and picking system for small-piece order fulfillment is essential.

Vertical lift modules (VLMs) and horizontal carousels (HCs) exemplify the ideal system for this purpose. They are capable of managing thousands of different SKUs, allowing small-piece inventory to be stored, picked, and packed within a small footprint with impressive speed and efficiency.

The unique capability of VLMs and HCs to store inventory in a compact space leads to a significant reduction in conventional inventory storage size, up to 90%. This allows facilities to save valuable floor space and concentrate operations in a smaller footprint, closer to where they are needed. As a result, the flow of operations is optimized, and the need for off-site storage can be minimized or eliminated.

The modular and scalable design of VLMs and HCs enables them to function effectively in various environments, including both high-ceiling and low-ceiling facilities with unusual configurations. These systems can easily adapt to changes in SKU counts and throughput volumes. Moreover, they can accommodate the storage of both ambient and temperature-controlled products within the range of  2°C and 25°C.

VLMs leverage the available room height, allowing items to be stored up to 16 metres high within a confined footprint, effectively maximizing the use of vertical space in the facility. On the other hand, the Modula HC is designed for use in environments with limited ceiling height.

While VLMs and HCs have already proven their effectiveness in enhancing storage and fulfillment efficiency, the latest evolution of these solutions takes things further. They now offer a higher level of integration and connectivity, fully supporting Smart Factory operations. Companies like Modula are at the forefront of manufacturing such advanced automated storage and retrieval systems.

By embracing these Smart Factory solutions, manufacturers can optimize small-piece storage and fulfillment processes, leading to increased efficiency, reduced operational costs, and improved overall productivity in their warehouses.

WMS Connectivity: Enhancing Smart Factory Operations

As the backbone of managing VLMs and HCs, a dedicated and comprehensive warehouse management system (WMS) is the most ideal solution, specifically designed for receiving, picking, and organizing small-piece fulfillment.


VLMs and HCs offer complete Ethernet connectivity with the plant WMS and house ERP. 

The Modula WMS, for instance, is a robust inventory management software specially tailored to operate VLMs and HCs while seamlessly integrating with traditional manual  in static racking.

A key feature of this WMS is its real-time integration with the facility’s host WMS via Ethernet. This ensures that the host WMS has updated information about the location of every item to be picked or refilled. The VLM and HC’s WMS interface supports various WMS, DMS, MRP, and ERP platforms, enabling faster and more accurate processes like receiving, picking, and putting away products. Additionally, the VLM and HC WMS allows the host WMS to directly monitor the VLM and HC units.

Each VLM and HC is equipped with a color touchscreen console called Copilot, connected to Modula WMS via Ethernet. This user-friendly interface simplifies operations, enabling operators to request specific items or execute orders seamlessly.

MODULA Copilot

Each VLM and HC is equipped with a color touchscreen Copilot console, connected to Modula WMS via Ethernet

The graphical visualization of the tray layout on the Copilot provides clear information about the location of desired items within the VLM or HC. It also displays all relevant information related to picking or refilling operations, such as item codes, quantities, and item notes.

The dedicated and connected WMS for small-piece inventory storage and picking with VLMs and HCs offers several inherent benefits, including:

  • Elimination of Manual Input
    By utilizing barcodes and other automated solutions with VLMs and HCs, the WMS reduces the risk of human errors associated with manual input.
  • Inventory in Racking
    Many warehouses use sophisticated MHE and WMS but still handle thousands of SKUs manually with shelving, drawers, and tool cribs. A dedicated WMS for small-piece inventory can integrate data from static shelving digitally with VLMs and HCs via Ethernet, streamlining management and reporting.
  • Insight-Driven Dashboard
    The WMS offers personalized views and real-time visibility into key performance metrics through customizable layouts, alerts, and custom reports. This empowers managers to make data-driven decisions to optimize warehouse operations.
  • Track and Trace Unique IDs
    As the need for tracking unique IDs grows, especially for high-value smaller-item products, the latest VLM and HC WMS support this requirement. They enable efficient digital management of inventory for track and trace capabilities and seamless data sharing with the host WMS and management through Ethernet connectivity.
  • Fast Installation and Connectivity
    Unlike many traditional WMS requiring lengthy installations, the latest WMS, like the Modula WMS, provides a rapid installation process. It comes with standard interfaces for seamless integration with the company’s ERP, enabling quick and secure order and inventory management via Ethernet.
    By leveraging WMS connectivity and the capabilities of VLMs and HCs, companies can significantly improve the efficiency and productivity of their Smart Factory operations, enabling them to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced manufacturing landscape.

MODULA display

Graphical display of tray layout clearly shows the operator where the desired item is located in the warehouse. 

Embracing Industry 4.0 and Smart Factory Solutions

Implementing a Smart Factory initiative is aimed at achieving the highest level of production efficiency.
To achieve this, manufacturers must develop individually tailored and comprehensive intralogistics solutions that prioritize security and flexibility, propelling them confidently into their digital future.

A critical aspect of this evolution is harnessing interconnected automation solutions across multiple distribution processes, enabling a seamless production flow. Central to this transformation is the integration of VLMs and HCs for automated small-piece fulfillment, revolutionizing the efficiency and productivity of Smart Factory operations.

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Whether it’s eliminating waste by removing cumbersome warehouse processes or ensuring your warehouse employees are safe, lean warehousing is the solution to several different challenges in warehouse management.

Lean warehousing is an approach to warehouse management that eliminates warehouse processes or activities that use resources but do not create additional value, to help reduce waste and improve productivity.

This approach was initially developed in the manufacturing industry — in the automotive sector by Toyota — with a focus on reducing waste and improving efficiency.

Let’s take a manual picking process as an example. Manual picking requires your warehouse operators to use pick lists and navigate pick locations manually, which can be seen as wasteful, as it uses resources, such as time and labor, but it doesn’t add any value for your customer.

To resolve the wasted resources from manual picking, implementing the lean warehousing approach in this situation might mean taking advantage of automated picking solutions instead.

Lean warehousing means:

  • Improve productivity: Lean warehousing focuses on eliminating wasteful warehouse processes, such as overproduction and excess inventory storage. By identifying and eliminating non-value-added activities, productivity is improved.
  • Boost employee safety: Lean warehousing prioritizes workplace safety by utilizing automated vertical storage solutions to eliminate the need to reach high and low places, reducing both clutter and unsafe work practices.
  • Increase employee morale: Lean principles promote employee involvement and empowerment. By involving your employees in continuous improvement initiatives, you can boost retention rates and allow your employees to feel valued and motivated to contribute to the success of the warehouse.
  • Reduce downtime: By improving processes across your warehouse, you can reduce downtime and ensure your warehouse operations run smoothly.
  • Reduce the need for more storage space: Instead of moving to a bigger facility, implementing the lean approach to your existing warehouse allows you to optimize inventory levels and reduce excess stock. This, in turn, allows you to save on premium costs associated with warehouse expansion or leasing additional storage facilities.

Stacker crane automatic warehouse

How To Implement Lean Warehouse Management

Once you’ve nailed down the steps to achieving a lean approach, the next step is to implement best practices into your daily warehouse operations.

To fully integrate the lean warehousing approach:

1. Audit Your Warehouse Processes

Auditing your warehouse processes is key to identifying inefficiencies and areas that need improvement in your warehouse.

  • Define your objectives: These might include improving efficiency, reducing costs, ensuring safety compliance, enhancing customer service or identifying training needs. Clear objectives will help you focus on the audit.
  • Create an audit checklist: Develop a list of areas to examine based on your objectives. This might include inventory management, order picking, packing and shipping, equipment maintenance, space utilization and employee training.
  • Gather data: Utilize different methods to collect information, such as physical inspections, staff interviews, documentation review (like shipping records or safety logs) and data analysis (like order fulfillment times or error rates).
  • Analyze the data: Look for patterns that indicate a problem. For example, if there are frequent stockouts of specific items during a certain season, this might indicate inadequate stock of fast-moving items.
  • Benchmark your performance: Compare your performance against industry standards and/or against your past performance to look for areas that need improvement.
  • Provide recommendations: Based on your findings, recommend improvements. This might include changes to procedures, equipment, warehouse layout or employee training.
  • Present your findings: Prepare a report outlining your findings and recommendations, and present this to the relevant stakeholders.

2. Implement Just-in-Time (JIT) Inventory Management

Just-in-time (JIT) is a type of inventory management that requires you to work closely with suppliers to ensure that raw goods arrive as soon as production is scheduled to begin.

Implementing JIT inventory management allows you to boost efficiency, eliminate excess inventory and reduce storage costs — goals that are in line with lean manufacturing.

To implement JIT inventory management in your warehouse:

  • Collect historical sales data at a granular level (by consumer behavior or SKU, for example) to provide a detailed outline of your demand patterns.
  • Develop strong relationships with your suppliers and involve them in your planning process. Communicate your demand forecasts with your suppliers and ensure they can meet your requirements in terms of quantity, quality and timing.
  • Implement an inventory management software that automatically triggers purchase orders when your goods reach low inventory levels, so you don’t risk stockouts.

3. Train Your Warehouse Employees

Implementing lean warehousing requires changing processes and restructuring your employees’ mindsets.

Training your warehouse employees is key to ensuring that everyone understands the principles of lean manufacturing and how to put them into practice.

To train your employees on lean warehousing practices:

  • Provide a thorough orientation program for your new employees. The program might include an introduction to the principles of lean warehousing, for example, along with an overview of your company’s specific processes and procedures and a clear explanation of employee roles and responsibilities within the warehouse.
  • Offer specific training sessions focused on lean warehousing principles and practices, such as the 5S methodology, value stream mapping, waste reduction techniques, visual management and problem-solving tools for continuous improvement.
  • Provide hands-on training opportunities for your employees to apply lean concepts, such as mock simulations, role-playing exercises or actual work assignments.

Lean warehousing

4. Utilize Warehouse Automation

Automation can significantly improve efficiency and accuracy in your warehouse — characteristics that align with the lean approach.

Automated warehouse solutions include automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS), robotic picking systems, and warehouse management systems (WMS) that can boost picking accuracy and speed.

As a leader in automated storage solutions and warehouse management systems, Modula provides advanced solutions that can enhance productivity, efficiency and picking accuracy — primary goals that align with the lean warehousing approach.

5. Utilize Continuous Improvement (Kaizen)

The lean journey doesn’t end once the initial improvements have been implemented — it’s a continuous process.

You can ensure continuous improvements by holding regular team meetings to discuss ideas or hosting formal kaizen events where your team works together to solve a particular problem.

For some years Modula has decided to equip itself with a Kaizen manager to monitor and improve company processes, with a view to continuous streamlining of processes.

Modula’s advanced storage solutions and warehouse management system allow you to implement a lean approach to your warehouse operations to optimize your storage space, improve your picking accuracy and boost your employee’s productivity and efficiency.

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