Understanding ASRS Software Integration
You’ve just purchased a new automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) for all of the benefits it can deliver your operations: accurate and real-time inventory; increased throughput and efficiencies; space savings; less product damage; automated rack location assignment; and higher density storage. These are all benefits that will serve your business well moving forward, particularly if you are a high-volume distribution center.
But ASRS integration into your facility goes beyond the physical—it also involves software integration. Getting this piece of the puzzle right is essential to your ability to make the most of your new automation. An ASRS system is more than the hardware—it’s the software and its ability to work seamlessly with your existing WMS or manufacturing execution software.
While you may have a solid IT department on hand, it’s likely that achieving seamless integration will require the help of your ASRS provider’s team and /or an outside consultant. You need someone who understands both the ASRS software and your existing platform, and how to create an interface.
At issue is the fact that every company’s operations are different, and therefore the software that controls and oversees those operations is unique. You’ll need an expert who can understand the multiple issues involved. Included in this are factors like which messages your software needs to send to the ASRS; what transactions the ASRS software needs to communicate back to the WMS; or how your WMS can send orders to the ASRS. All require an expert to oversee the development of specific interfaces.
In action, each time an item is added or removed from an ASRS, the machine should update its own database of inventory and then send that message to your own software. When you need to store or retrieve an item, your own software will send that information to the ASRS platform, and so on.
The level of complexity will vary by business, software, and ASRS. In some cases, an out-of-the box ASRS software solution will be enough to make your processes flow smoothly. In these situations, the ASRS team will be well equipped to integrate with your company’s main software. In other cases, however, integration is more complex and may require a third party to assist in getting it right. Most ASRS companies can carefully analyze your data to help develop the processes and algorithms that will be essential in a successful ASRS launch. They can help you develop a workflow and a system for staying on top of all transactions, messages and movement associated with inventory in your ASRS. The best place to start is with your ASRS partner to determine which category applies to your operations.
Software integration with a new ASRS can be complicated, but with the right partner, the solution is at hand.
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