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Automating your Beverage Warehouse with Tablet PC: Part II

You’ve conducted a detailed internal assessment. You know exactly what’s needed to transform your beverage warehousing and distribution system to address your most critical existing challenges and also support your plans for the future. Now it’s time to determine which technology options are best-suited to help you do that.  

Learn how Ben E. Keith Beverages is growing their business using rugged tablet PCs.


You’re probably already using a rugged tablet PC to streamline activities throughout your warehouse. Regardless of the size or complexity of your operation, you can maximize the value of mobile devices with new levels of automation that can further enhance and speed processes. You can increase productivity, reduce costs and space needs while ensuring your ability to meet internal and customer expectations.

rugged tablet pc beverage warehouse distributionWhen selecting warehouse storage and transportation technology, the most important factor is unit load integrity. The size and shape of the load being handled cannot be subject to shifting that could result in protrusions, loose wrappings, etc. Lack of uniformity can cause costly equipment and product damage as well as delays.

Here are some technology options you’ll want to consider:

Rack storage.

The greatest efficiency comes from moving products directly from storage to trucks. But interim steps such as picking and staging create differing needs, so your goal is to be as efficient as possible, given the parameters of your space and fulfillment requirements. Storage density will determine which rack system makes the most sense to perform your work at peak speed and accuracy.

Options include:

  • Drive-in racks.
  • Gravity-flow racks.
  • Push-back racks.
  • Selective racks.

You’ll want to consider criteria such as whether you use FIFO or LIFO inventory control, the number and volume of different SKUs and how much physical space you have available -- both floor space and height. Whatever you choose, it’s critical that systems meet the Rack Manufacturers Institute standards for strength and security under load.

Transport equipment.

Moving goods around your warehouse depends on space configuration and density. Your goal is to create pathways that take up the smallest amount of space while allowing you to work quickly and efficiently. Trade-offs reflect labor versus equipment and maintenance costs. A rugged tablet PC can enhance efficiency for forklift operators and floor personnel.

Options include:

  • Forklift trucks.
  • Conveyors.
  • Automated guided vehicles (AGVs).
  • Manual or automated turret, narrow aisle (NA) or very narrow aisle (VNA) trucks.

Systems that do both.

These systems combine storage and picking in one mechanized process. Options include:

  • Storage retrieval machines (SRMs).
  • Aisle-bound or stacker cranes.
  • Deep lane storage retrieval machines.
  • Automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS).
  • High-density dynamic storage (HDDS).
  • Super-high-density flow systems.

Ultimately, the most efficient and cost-effective solution could be a system that combines automated and manual processes, especially if you’re storing and shipping different SKUs at different frequencies. You can always expand automated activities as you grow or your needs change.

The one thing you can count on is increasing computerization. Electronic automation depends on it. With a rugged tablet PC in play throughout your warehouse, you can take full advantage of things such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, warehouse management systems (WMS), warehouse control systems (WCS) and specific machine control systems.

The result is a level of automation that perfectly matches your beverage manufacturing, storage and fulfillment needs, now and into the future.


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