Technical solutions for automation of warehouse operations and their implementation challenges

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för ekonomistyrning och logistik (ELO); Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för ekonomistyrning och logistik (ELO)

Abstract: PurposeThe purpose of this study is to focus on the challenges with the implementation of technical solutions for automation of warehouse operations for the movement and tracking of goods. Additionally, the focus is on the similarities and differences between the identified challenges in theory and practice. MethodologyThis study employs a qualitative research strategy with a cross-sectional research design. A qualitative analysis of the challenges for the automation of warehouse operations is done, with the help of semi-structured interviews of 9 different companies.TheoryThe theory chapter starts with an introduction of warehouse management systems (WMS) and the differentiation between the main and supportive warehouse processes, whereby the focus is drawn on the supportive processes. The supportive processes are differentiated into the movement and tracking of goods. For the movement of goods automated guided vehicles (AGVs), Automated forklifts and Automated conveyor systems are analyzed. For the tracking of goods Barcodes, QR-Codes and RFID technology is examined. These two areas are also analyzed regarding their identified challenges. AnalysisThe analysis is based on the identification of the challenges from theory and empirical data for the tracking and movement of goods within a warehouse. Therefore, the empirical perceived challenges are processed and merged together. Afterwards, the theoretical and empirical identified challenges are compared for each of the technical solutions for automation for the movement and tracking of goods. Additionally, a comparison between the degrees of importance of the perceived challenges is drawn.Conclusion Technical solutions for automation for the movement and tracking of goods perceived in theory and practice are analyzed in this thesis. The conclusion of this study is that there are differences and similarities between the challenges for the movement and tracking of goods. Regarding the movement of goods, theory is more directed to see challenges after the implementation in contrast to the focus of practice on the pre-implementation challenges. For the tracking of goods, the perceived challenges in practice are more about the usage and not as technical oriented as the theory.

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