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GTP or Goods to Person (noun): systems that store and retrieve merchandise and/or assist
in the picking process and deliver to a staging area for packing and dispatch.
This increasingly popular automation solution isn’t new in distribution facilities or the material handling industry. In fact, today GTP solution options run the gamut; from the easily recognizable cube-based structures to aisle-based shuttles, mobile robots and other variations. Although not new to the industry, they are constantly evolving.
Adapting to a changing economic and uncertain labor markets, as well as advancements in robotics and software, goods to person continues to prove to be a robust foundation for distribution center operations that can grow and adapt.
More Than Flexible, Introducing Extensibility
Any automation solution is an investment. Integration of goods to person is no different, and with technological advancements, GTP has always been known as a flexible solution that accommodates various products and operations. Demonstrating extensibility, however, reaches beyond minor adjustments or accommodations.
Extensibility is the measure of the scalability and integrability of a product or system, providing for a truly future-proof solution that works well with future technologies and functions.
Visual picking enhancements and product transport
Staple warehouse technologies like pick to light or conveyor can be integrated for a more effective goods to person solution.
- Pick to light – Light devices mounted on workstations or mobile carts to guide operators to the correct quantities of the items needed to fulfil an order, offering a faster, more accurate pick method than requires a minimal learning curve to utilize the technology.
- Conveyor – To move products either to the GTP workstation for putaway or away from the workstation to transport filled orders for further processing, creating an improved ergonomic environment by eliminating heavy lifting and reliably delivering products to their destinations.
Tight integration with the host system via WES software allows for more efficient use and even greater throughput, with accurate and real-time inventory pick instructions.
AI innovation and integration
AI and machine vision, however, adds a new level of automation that introduces a fully automated order fulfillment option. A fully automated order fulfillment solution consists of a goods to person system, industrial robot, AI-powered vision system, takeaway conveyor with automated labelling and weight check, and warehouse software to control the entire process, like Exacta® WES.
When an order is received, the warehouse software communicates with the GTP system to deliver the bin containing the ordered item to the robot-operated GTP workstation. Within milliseconds, the robot’s AI and vision platform identifies the SKU(s) needed for the order, then selects the “most pick-able” SKU in the pile and releases the robot to pick it and place it into the designated container.
When the order is complete, the container will be transported via the takeaway conveyor for further outbound processing like check weighing with in-line scales to ensure order accuracy and automated labeling to attach a shipping label.
Continuous Learning for More Efficient Business Growth
Equipped with innovative AI and machine vision, piece picking robots don’t require training or programming to handle your current SKUs or new SKU integration. As new products are introduced, the AI software builds a library of objects it has seen and handled over time, along with optimal picking information. This is shared across the entire fleet allowing them to continuously learn from each other so they can function as a single, highly efficient order fulfilment operation. The AI and vision platform directly interfaces with Bastian Solutions’ Exacta software, communicating SKU data and sharing order fulfillment information. This integration allows the cells to run with even higher autonomy.
Identifying the Right GTP
Whether exploring a fully automated order fulfillment solution or exploring goods to person as a first step in automation, identing the right goods to person technology is key. Automation should simplify your operations, not complicate it with unnecessary steps. As an independent integrator, we explore a variety of technologies and brands – AutoStore, Attabotics, Perfect Pick, ADAPTO, Scallog, Caja Robotics, Tompkins Robotics, and many more. From our customers, however, common attributes that are considered center around storage density, throughput rates, and expansion capabilities.
Grid or cube-based designs
- High-storage density design without the use of aisles
- Ideal for tight spaces and fast-moving SKUs
- Features bins, robots and pick interfaces
Shuttle and racking options
- Moves across set levels and aisles
- Accommodates totes, trays and cartons
- Features shuttles, racking
- Utilizes overhead space and a narrow footprint
- Accommodates totes or bins, SKUs with mid-range activity
- Features aisle-based equipment, static racks or shelves, various load-handling devices
Robotic, mobile shelving
- Dynamic storage solution
- Accommodates cartons, boxes or bins
- Features shelving and AMRs/AGVs
Thrive in Today’s Market
The global warehouse automation market was valued at $29.6 billion in 2020 and is forecasted to expand to $69 billion in 2025. That growth includes the growth of mobile robots as well as fixed infrastructure automation equipment, according to the 2021 Warehouse Automation report by Interact Analysis.
Automation technology and its creative applications are rapidly developing. Companies across the globe are quickly realizing that automation may be their only option to keep up with consumer demand and labor shortages. If you need assistance evaluating the appropriate level of automation, Bastian solutions can determine the right fit and forecast scalable options per business data and objectives.