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Last updated: October 07, 2020

What are Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems?

automated storage retrieval buffer stockAutomated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) consist of systems operated by software that automate the storing and retrieving of products from storage locations throughout a facility. ASRS enhances the handling of materials moving high volumes of inventory into and out of storage areas.

ASRS relieves storage constraints by providing storage density, increased picking accuracy, safer ergonomic work areas, and reducing the risk of damaging inventory. These systems automate manual handling processes of materials.

Computer software controls and manages the inventory of items stored in the system. This software determines the most efficient place for products to be stored for quick retrieval. This component of the system is called SRM – storage and retrieval machine. The SRM locates the product, pulls the products and drops the item off at an ergonomic retrieval counter. 

The process can be assisted by conveyors or automated guided vehicles (AGVs). These conveyors and AGVs move inventory in and out of storage areas and then transports them throughout the facility.

The ASRS system manages inventory by utilizing inventory management software. The software maintains inventory real-time counts, reorder points, and stock locations automatically.

The results of using an ASRS system are significant. Reduction of labor, increase of inventory management accuracy, and space savings are just a few advantages that businesses have in using ASRS for their material handling needs. Click here to find out more about automated storage and retrieval systems

What is Buffer Stock Management?

buffer safety stock inventory managementBuffer Stock Management is defined as "a supply of inputs held as a reserve in case there are future demand and supply fluctuations," MBA Skool Team. Having some kind of buffer to protect the uncertainty of the future protects businesses from financial risk and creates a safer work environment.

Buffer stock benefits all stages of the supply chain. Some benefits include:

  • Improves production line continuity.
  • Enhances productivity.
  • Prepares the supply chain for unexcepted situations in meeting supply demands.

Buffer Stock also positively affects business operations. Some advantages are:

  • It allows businesses to capitalize on new opportunities.
  • Stabilizes revenue.
  • Decreases fluctuation in supply.
  • Brings material storage closer to the point of use. 
  • It functions as a critical component to the overall production operations, designated to handle variability.
  • Maintains real-time inventory.

Buffer System Strategies

buffer storage asrs systemsBuffer Inventory management consists of a strategy called Safety Stock to ensure that the manufacturer can produce products for the suppliers and consumers. When unexpected orders of high quantity come in, safety stock helps manufacturers fill the demand for those orders.

Safety Stock buffering focuses on reserving additional inventory to prepare for sudden variations in supply chain orders. Orders and suppliers need to be reliable and work together. Buffering allows the supply chain operations to have balance in their inventory.

There are numerous issues with overstocking. Without strategic buffering, overstocking ensues. With this comes less floor space, stalemates the manufacturing process, and hurts production going out the loading docks. Maintaining a safety buffer ensures no overstocking, preparation for variables in orders, and seamless, uninterrupted manufacturing processes.

Another strategy is Process Buffering. Process buffering creates compact storage holding areas within the manufacturing line process. In a multi-step manufacturing sequence, one process may take longer to finish than another. To prevent delays, buffer storage areas are added to maintain the flow of materials and eliminate bottlenecks throughout the manufacturing process. Without this strategic buffer storage areas, production could be halted.

How Buffer Systems and ASRS Work Together

Individual items are placed in storage locations by the operator. The buffer system assists in balance, efficient inventory management. What complements this system is software. This software provides real-time inventory control. The platform allows for custom reporting on inventory, dynamic alert generation, enhanced safety, and eliminated inventory shortages.

Additionally, the software platform that runs ASRS also works for process buffering strategies. A software system can alert the operator when the buffer step is completed, seamlessly allowing the process to continue. To achieve full automation, the buffer strategies integrate with conveyor systems. This integration leads to increase production with less labor, increase safety in operations, improved security of the stored items, and accurate inventory control. The system is a manufacturer marriage made in heaven.

ASRS and Buffering Systems in Manufacturing

asrs buffer stock storage machinesAs previously mentioned, buffering is used in manufacturing to compensate for variations in the supply chain process. This combination allows operations to automate the process of storing work-in-progress and complete orders when they are requested. The solution enables manufacturer providers and supply chain operations to meet their order requirements accurately and with less contingency on labor. Shipping and receiving are fast, secure, and automated.

A successful ASRS system requires solutions with thought and planning that goes beyond just how an item is stored. Buffering Systems are part of the long-term design of a successful ASRS system. Coordinating order fulfillment, supply chain flow, and parts storage are all considered when ASRS works together with Buffer System strategies.

This kind of solution interacts with storage and how it is handled. The ROI for businesses is seen quickly by increasing productivity and safety in a warehouse's operational throughput. A carefully designed ASRS system with buffer strategies measures each element's performance in the supply chain life cycle.

Features such as drop off, pick up, load handling, and itemizing inventory are measured, executed, and reported on to maximize the output with minimal labor effort. Prevention of operational errors and increased safety measures make the ASRS solution with buffer strategies the perfect fit for suppliers looking to be ahead of their market demands. Watch a video that highlights a vertical buffer module

Southwest Solutions Group Can Meet Your Needs

Contact our professionals today so that we can work with you to meet the challenges you face in your day-to-day operations. We provide ASRS systems that offer advanced ergonomics for the operator, complete control over critical inventory items, state of the art security, and the ability to save much-needed space on the floor. Our space-saving solutions are ideal for assisting in fulfilling orders for retail suppliers, engineering manufacturers, and e-commerce operations alike. Call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.

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