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Monday, August 15, 2022

Warehouse Automation: Langham Invests in Innovation

Ever notice a major construction site pop up seemingly overnight and ask, “I wonder what that is going to be?” US real estate data indicates the project is likely a warehouse.

2021 ended with 568.2 million square feet of industrial property under construction. Despite more than 270 million square feet of warehouse space added last year, vacancy rates reached an all-time low of 3.4%. Analysts predict more than $ 53 billion in warehouse construction spending in 2022 — a 1400% increase over the last decade.

The construction boom is a product of companies building closer to their customers and a need for more space. With demand significantly outweighing supply, rent and construction costs are posting double-digit increases. But warehouse expenses are not the only problem. A labor shortage of almost 500,000 open positions in warehousing and transportation now exists — a number many believe is understated. Not only is hiring new staff difficult, but training and retaining staff is even tougher.

So, what is the solution to these warehousing woes? Successful operations must do more with less. The best way to accomplish this is through investments in automation.

Warehouse Automation in Action

People walking through Langham Logistics warehouses see the application of automation everywhere. A keystone of our corporate philosophy is innovating through technology. We strive to offer the most efficient and effective solutions for the job. As new technologies become available, Langham Logistics investigates, pilots, and implements advancements that stand to benefit clients.

Those currently in a pilot project or under evaluation include:

  • Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) – a pilot of these automated robots is in development for our Phoenix facility. They transport goods along a pre-designed circuit to speed up the flow of heavy materials.
  • Automated Pallet Shuttle (APS) – this high-density compact storage system uses powered shuttles to automatically transport and place loads into the rack.
  • Pick / Put-to-Light (PTL) – the paperless order-fulfillment technology uses lights and alphanumeric displays to guide employees on picking, putting, sorting, and assembling for improved productivity and less errors.
  • Vision Picking – also know as pick-by-vision, staff receive guided visual cues projected on their Head-Mounted Displays (HMD) or smart glasses to locate SKUs more quickly for better order processing.
  • Voice Picking – this paperless, hands-free system uses simple voice prompts that direct warehouse workers to picking locations and instructs them on which items to select.

Langham’s innovation investment process has produced significant upgrades to our nationwide operations. The following recent additions enable us to maximize the time and talents of our workforce, improve warehouse safety, and increase throughput for clients.

  • RFID Portals – radio frequency identification systems automate materials control by performing real-time inventory tracking as it moves in and out of the warehouse.
  • Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) – operating alongside employees without impeding their work, the AMR continuously scrubs and disinfects floors while self-navigating around obstacles to allow us to reallocate labor toward revenue-generating activities.
  • Co-Bots – short for collaborative robots, these machines interact and work alongside staff to free them from repetitive, complex, and hazardous tasks that cost time and risk safety. The co-bots leverage machine learning to eliminate long walks, reduce in-aisle walking, and accelerate tasks including put-away, picking, sorting, and replenishment.
  • Drones – a fleet of drones run overnight conducting inventory counts for up to 1,000 locations per hour inside the warehouse with 99.7% accuracy.
  • Robotic Arm – this robot uses a multi-jointed limb to maneuver products within the warehouse. The arm moves, turns, and lifts items for picking and packing, receiving and storage, as well as palletizing. The robotic arm works up to three times faster than humans with 99% accuracy.

Look to Langham for Innovation

At Langham Logistics, testing and implementing cutting-edge automations is part of our operating culture. We embrace change that is good for our employees and customers. While other companies navigate a slow decision-making process and red tape, we move fast to embrace technologies that drive efficiency and effectiveness. Schedule a visit and experience how technology transforms how we serve customers.

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