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Growing pains: sizing your automation for the future

Distribution bakery distribution center e-commerce micro-fulfillment planning trends

If the past year has shown us anything, it’s that we never know what the future will bring. You may experience a dramatic rise in order volumes tomorrow or a proliferation of SKUs in a few months. While it’s exciting on the business side to experience such growth, it can also mean challenges in warehousing and distribution.

Once reliant on manual order picking, more warehouses and distribution centers are now looking at automation to facilitate and streamline their order fulfillment operations. But simply automating doesn’t solve for potential growing pains. You need to plan for the future by building a solution that can grow with you.

Design for the future

The best way to approach future growth is with a versatile solution that offers flexibility and scalability. This can mean having extra slots in your storage space for potential new SKUs. Take into account your current warehouse layout, overall material flow and growth trajectory, and design a solution that can keep your facility running at its best based on projections.

Consider a modular order picking system that uses gantry robots to pick products from above a large storage area. With a modular system, you can readily add additional robots to increase picking capacity based on your facility’s immediate needs, including when faced with spikes in demand.

Preparing for the unexpected

For Midwest convenience store chain Kwik Trip, Cimcorp designed a space-saving, custom automated solution centered around our MultiPick order picking system at its La Crosse, Wisconsin baking facility. The system currently manages 80,000 trays of fast-moving bakery products and processes orders for 53,000 outbound trays to over 700 Kwik Trip stores each day. We specifically developed the solution to meet the company’s five-year growth plan.

Notably, since the MultiPick is a modular system that can be rapidly scaled according to production output and consumer demand, it proved instrumental to Kwik Trip for maintaining operational efficiency at the onset of COVID-19. During this time, Kwik Trip saw demand nearly triple within a single week. Thanks to the speed and adaptability of the MultiPick, Kwik Trip was able to maintain a product flow and level of order accuracy consistent with its normal daily operations.

Learn more about Kwik Trip’s scalable, automated solution for “kwik” and fresh bakery distribution by downloading the Case study. 

Author Derek Rickard

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