What kind of features can you expect when sharing data between manufacturing systems and material handling systems?
What is Smart Storage Anyway?
Smart Storage can be a bit of a catch-all phrase, but there are a few features and philosophies that can help you identify it.
A true Smart Storage System isn't simply storage equipment or inventory management software, but a holistic combination of the two. It understands and considers real world use cases to streamline processes and reduces or eliminates the need for operators to make decisions. And, it fully integrates with all your systems to provide seamless data flow throughout your manufacturing operation.
A Perfect Marriage of Equipment and Software
Most everyone is familiar with using some type of rack-and-bin storage, and for the longest time the best way to increase material handling efficiency was to purchase and implement software systems. There have also been interesting equipment innovations throughout the years with things like carousel storage and robotic towers.
However, these systems are frequently designed around specific and isolated tasks. Software systems don't know or care about how parts are stored and still rely on humans to interpret requirements and carry out manual picking operations. Hardware systems like carousels simply put the old rack-and-bin model inside an enclosed space that requires constant maintenance.
Modern Smart Storage Systems don't simply take two disparate solutions and mash them together, rather this type of system is a fully-integrated solution in which the equipment and the software are specifically designed for each other. Generally this involves system with LEDs and sensors that allows you to store individual packages of parts, automatically sensing when something is added or removed, and lighting the location of any required parts instantly for picking operators. The software in these systems is fully optimized and specifically designed for the equipment to give maximum benefits to the user. This perfect marriage of equipment and software allows for Smart Storage systems to tackle real problems and provide real solutions for all types of manufacturers
Real-World Solutions for Real-World Problems
It's not enough to simply locate your parts; you need a flexible system that understands and accommodates all your needs. Are you locating parts for production, for rework, for inspection and cycle counts? Are you pulling a kit, setting up feeders, or replenishing the line? Typical storage solutions will have some good general benefits, but they won't have enough features to handle every manufacturing operation.
Smart Storage Systems are purpose-built with real-world manufacturing processes in mind. Here is a small snapshot of the standard features you should expect from your storage system:
- Manage owned and consigned inventory
- Track customer or project specific inventory
- Customized picking schemes
- Lowest quantity or partial reels
- Date/Lot sorting
- LED binning
- Global AVL
- Discrete AVL per customer/kit/BOM
- and more
- Stockroom kitting
- Feeder setup
- Feeder replenishment
- Lineside Kanban
- Stationary and mobile storage for maximum flexibility
Seamless Data Integrations
Finding parts in seconds is an incredible advantage in the manufacturing world, but true Smart Storage doesn't stop there. Without integrations into other systems, most manufacturers will still be stuck with manual data entry and endless verification scans. Smart Storage Systems with integrations to ERP/MRP/MES/Pick-and-Place allow you to kit with confidence and skip these time-consuming and error-prone manual processes.
Best-in-class Smart Storage will have many different ways to automate data flow, from plug-and-play integrations with other industry vendors, to APIs that allow manufacturers to architect their own workflows, to fully customized features based on the exact requirements of any particular site. Send kitting requests to storage, automatically receive transactions for exactly what was picked and returned for any job, update counts through pick-and-place or X-ray counter integrations - this is just scratching the surface!
Smart Storage Works for You
The bottom line is that your storage system should do all the hard work of handling material for you. Let your storage decide what to pick instead of jumping through hoops to avoid human errors. Let your storage transact your material instead of endless scanning at every step of the process. Smart Storage allows you to focus on what you do best: high-quality manufacturing.
Get in touch to talk about the features listed here, and about just how deep the Smart Storage rabbit hole can go!