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Myths of ASRS / Goods to Person systems

As the need for faster and more efficient warehouse operations continues to escalate, Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) and Goods-to-Person (GTP) systems have emerged as powerful solutions designed to optimise materials handling processes as well as enhance order picking & fulfilment. However, along with their rise in popularity, various misconceptions have also come to light. In this blog, we'll highlight and dispel some of the common myths and assumptions surrounding ASRS and often-linked GTP systems.

Automation Overview

Traditionally, warehouse automation of any kind, from robot palletisers and conveyor networks to storage and retrieval systems have been seen as a significant investment, with long lead-times for implementation involving considerable disruption to existing processes and operations, as well as being complicated to integrate with legacy systems.

 

However, with technology innovation advancing with exceptional speed, dynamic and cost-effective solutions are entering the market all the time, with the biggest sector benefiting being the SME market. New technology available for both large scale and SME operations now eliminates the historic long lead times of 2+ years. Additionally, the perceived financial implications of spending millions in investment with significant – and costly – operational downtime whilst new processes and infrastructure are installed and tested, is now replaced by cost effective and dynamic solutions that support a compelling case for ASRS and GTP system integration.

Myth#1 – ASRS entail fixed automation

With a significant number of mechanical components and linear processes, there is a perception that all ASRS systems operate in a fixed manner with preset configurations.

 

Reality - Many solutions brought to market in the past few years now combine agile technology such as Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) with racking locations for storing the goods. Moving in 3D is now becoming the norm with the adoption of AMRs, where solutions are tailored to be able to service all parts of the storage from any workstation.

EXOTEC AAG
EXOTEC AAG

Myth #2 - ASRS are rigid solutions with no flexibility

Labour Savings: ASRS solutions automate the retrieval and storage of goods which minimises the need for manual intervention. By reducing reliance on labour-intensive tasks, companies can reallocate human resources to value-added activities, driving operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

 

Space Saving: Traditional warehousing here in the UK often struggles with space constraints. With warehouse and distribution centre real estate availability at a premium, particularly following the dramatic shift towards e-commerce post-Brexit and the global pandemic, simply moving a business to larger premises is often not an operationally viable or cost-effective option. However, operations can be significantly enhanced through intelligent use of the available footprint with ASRS systems designed to utilise vertical space efficiently and maximise high-density storage capacity within a compact warehouse footprint. Optimising storage capacity for inventory management using ASRS allows businesses to reduce the real estate costs and enhance the flexibility of the overall warehouse layout.

Myth #3 - ASRS and GTP installations are only for large scale operations 

It is still widely considered that ASRS and GTP systems are only suitable for large scale operations in warehouses or distribution centres.

Reality - These systems can significantly benefit large operations, however they are equally effective in smaller facilities as ASRS and GTP systems can be tailored to suit the size and specific needs of various operations, such as those with limited space or inventory. There are entry level systems available with the right solution, providing the opportunity for SMEs to operate on a small scale and expand over time as the business grows and savings have been made.

 

Myth #4 - Implementing an ASRS is capital intensive & means a new building or challenging retrofit 

Companies often believe solutions like ASRS and GTP systems are cost prohibitive and would either need expansion of the existing footprint through buying, leasing or building a new facility, or alternatively, would need a full system retrofit into their existing site with significant disruption and operational downtime. 

Reality – Integrating ASRS and GPT systems naturally involve initial expenditure, however increased efficiency, reduced labour costs, space optimisation, and improved accuracy in order picking and inventory management are just some of the key advantages leading to a positive return on investment over time. 

These systems are also designed to optimise the available space with high density storage, thereby significantly reducing the likelihood of needing to relocate to new premises or to expand the existing warehouse footprint. Furthermore, the project delivery is also optimised to implement the infrastructure and software integration with minimal downtime and disruption to existing processes.

 

Myth #5 - An ASRS system is not suitable for the operation

Many companies see the technology as static with a one-size-fits-all approach and will dismiss it for various reasons: products do not fit, order profile and volume aren’t suitable, or it is too large for what is needed.

Reality – ASRS systems are highly flexible to the demands of a business so will be a suitable fit in many operational environments. Also, the majority of projects involving an ASRS use the system for a specific portion of the overall operation, be that large or small, bringing efficiency to the required process whilst allowing other technology to cater for the remainder. 

For example, a company could use an ASRS system for the e-Commerce order picking offering yet utilise a different solution for store replenishment of retail goods. Additionally, smaller parts could be picked using an ASRS or GTP system, whilst larger or unusually sized SKUs are manually picked from pallet racking or shelving where the remaining items are stored. These examples highlight a very compelling case for managing dynamic operations with positive ROI.

 

Myth #6 - ASRS and GTP systems replace human workers 

Implementing ASRS and GTP systems is seen as leading to widespread job losses by automating tasks that were traditionally carried out by human operatives. 

Reality - As the labour shortage continues to affect UK warehouse operations, ASRS and GTP systems help optimise the available workforce resources, driving cost and efficiency benefits. They create new opportunities for skilled workers needed to oversee and maintain the systems, perform quality control checks, manage inventory, and handle exceptions that require human intervention. 

 

Conclusion

As the demand for faster fulfilment and efficient warehouse management continues to grow, it’s important to dispel the myths surrounding ASRS and GTP systems and showcase their considerable benefits for both small and larger scale operations.  By understanding the impressive and varied capabilities of these automated solutions, businesses can make informed decisions to improve their operations, increase their competitive edge in a challenging marketplace, and meet the ever-changing needs of their customers in today’s dynamic logistics landscape.

 

About L-A-C Logistics Automation 

As a leading UK Systems Integrator, we pride ourselves on our expertise in providing tailored solutions based on specific business requirements. Our committed and detailed approach focusses on understanding the unique needs of each business and designing a system that aligns perfectly with those needs. Whether it’s a small warehouse operation or a large-scale distribution centre or production facility, we have the in-depth knowledge and experience to deliver an ASRS solution that is precisely right for you. Contact us today to find out more.

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L-A-C’s team of experts are here to support you from concept to the finished system, working together to design and deliver a bespoke solution that meets your current objectives and future growth expectations, with favourable ROI. 

 

Across semi-automated and fully automated systems, L-A-C has the expertise and range of products to provide flexible and scalable solutions that will significantly enhance your operations and keep you agile as your business evolves. 

 

Join us on a pivotal journey towards a more efficient, productive, cost effective and sustainable future with L-A-C’s innovative automation technology solutions.



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