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Automated warehouse logistics

Logistics automation Automated warehouse logistics: deliver quickly and flexibly

Are you checking automated warehouse logistics for your company? Then Swisslog is the right place for you. No matter whether you need a smaller standard automated warehouse logistics that can be implemented in a few months. Or you are aiming for a larger automated warehouse logistics project with subsystems. We plan and implement your system.

Clever automatic storage system solutions offer flexibility:

. Automated storage systems Quickly implemented in just a few months
. Automated storage systems increase storage volume by up to 70% in the same space
. 4x faster outsourcing and picking through automatic storage systems
. An automatic storage system can also be optimally implemented in existing buildings
. Constant product tracking thanks to intelligent software with automatic storage systems
. The automated storage system easily keeps up with changing assortment and growth

When discussing automated warehouse logistics, doubts can arise as to whether the various automated warehouse logistics can be integrated in such a way that the logic of the processes runs smoothly. After getting to know the most important functions of automated warehouse logistics that define automated warehouse logistics, in today’s article we try to answer the questions: How does automated warehouse logistics work and which operations can be automated in automated warehouse logistics at all?

If you decide to use automated warehouse logistics in a warehouse, its profitability should be the starting point for considerations.

Functionality of an automated warehouse logistics

At first glance, the operation of automated warehouse logistics may seem like science fiction due to its size and complexity. After a more detailed analysis, however, one can see that there is a simple logic behind the use of automated warehouse logistics. We will show you how automated warehouse logistics works and which processes to be automated form the basis for this.

1. Automated warehouse logistics that automate the movement of loads around the warehouse

A large part of the resource consumption in a warehouse (up to 48% of the operating costs) occurs during order picking. Valuable time is spent locating and transporting unit loads between the different zones of the warehouse. These movements or routes can be automated section by section in automated warehouse logistics:


Compact vertical storage is one of the strategies followed in many logistic warehouses in view of the scarcity of space. However, manual handling of loads at height is complicated and involves risks that should not be underestimated in terms of safety for employees and goods.

Against this background, the following automated warehouse logistics have proven to be an excellent solution:

  • Automated stacker cranes: How do they work in automated warehouse logistics? In a conventional warehouse, they assume the function of a manual forklift, picking up the goods at one end of the aisle and moving them to the desired location (and vice versa). The movement of an automated stacker crane can be single or combined (bringing the pallet to one location and taking the opportunity to pick another nearby pallet). The storage and retrieval machines are able to move pallets of up to 1,500 kg in single depth and 1,300 kg in double depth.
  • Pallet shuttle: A trolley with an electric motor transports the pallets independently through the loading line (or the channel). The Pallet-Shuttle therefore automates processes that the forklift truck would otherwise carry out with less speed, less accuracy and less safety.
  • Miniload systems: work in principle like storage and retrieval machines, only they are used in automatic small parts warehouses in which items are stored in plastic boxes, trays or trays. Miniload systems speed up the processing of small orders.


Connecting different areas of the warehouse is another operation that can be automated with automated warehouse logistics, typically through roller, chain, or electronically operated conveyor systems. These elements follow a given cycle that can vary from the simplest design to high complexity. In this way, warehouses and even plants can be connected at different levels.

Another common application of conveyor systems is to assist in loading and unloading pallets. Located at the receiving and/or shipping docks, they are able to unload entire trailers of palletized goods safely and quickly.

2. Software for controlling and managing the automated warehouse logistics

When we show how automated warehouse logistics works, we must not ignore the associated software. We want to highlight two types of software here:

  • Control software: executes the movements of the machines. This is the case with Mecalux’s Galileo system, which guarantees the transport of goods with absolute precision and allows increasingly complex movements to be programmed with maximum safety. The control software is integrated into an avalanche transceiver.
  • Warehouse management system (WMS): decides where the goods are placed and controls their location at all times (permanent inventory). A WMS like Easy WMS communicates with the control software regarding the paths of the machines and optimizes them.

When answering the question of how automated warehouse logistics works, it is always about the interaction between the location/removal of the goods and their transport. Automated warehouse logistics and related software allow to increase productivity metrics, reducing the footprint and number of movements required to carry out operations in the warehouse.

What is an automated warehouse or automated warehouse logistics?

Automated warehouse logistics: The efficient control of (small) parts of all kinds

When it comes to optimizing processes and, in particular, making them more efficient, automated warehouse logistics form a sound basis. The production volume in the area of conveyor technology and intralogistics has been increasing for years, in Germany alone it is now more than EUR 22 billion (2019) – this segment has increased by more than in less than a decade (2010: EUR 14.8 billion). 50 percent grown. This includes industrial trucks, cranes and hoists, series hoists, logistics software, continuous conveyors and storage equipment.

The point is: Automated warehouse logistics, with which internal material and goods flows can be better organized, controlled and managed, is now essential in industry and trade alike. We explain the classic structure, how the warehouse control works and the most important aspects of automated warehouse systems.

What exactly is automated warehouse logistics?

The term automated warehouse logistics acts as a generic term and includes all systems and solutions with which warehouses can be automated and optimized. Depending on the type of goods involved, this includes storage and retrieval machines as well as fully automated systems.

Task and function of automated warehouse logistics?:

  • Storage and retrieval of certain goods using pre-assembled pallets, boxes or containers
  • Automation of distribution steps

Important: when we talk about automated warehouse logistics, we are mostly talking about the automated small parts warehouse (AKL). It enables safe, space-saving storage that takes up the full room height and is fully automated.

The typical structure of an automatic small parts warehouse (AKL)

Regardless of whether it is tools, machines or other equipment: Safe, reliable allocation and provision is the basis for smooth internal processes. In order for this to work, such automated warehouse logistics is based on boxes or shelves that are specifically controlled.

The highlight: Automated warehouse logistics not only combines shelves and the necessary mechanics, but also the control unit in the form of warehouse management software in one and the same system. Unlike traditional storage solutions, the product can be transported to the user without barriers – and not vice versa. This saves time, increases the efficiency of processes and makes the entire warehouse management more economical.

Automated warehouse logistics for small parts is structured as follows by default:

  • Automated warehouse logistics Shelving system with aisles of different dimensions, depending on the intended use
  • One stacker crane (RGB) per aisle as a control element for automated warehouse logistics
  • Optional boxes, containers, trays, etc. for storing the individual items
  • Different number of operator stations for order pickers in automated warehouse logistics
  • An integrated conveyor technology in the automated warehouse logistics enables the transport of each individual article to the respective order picker

The decisive factor: Orders for outsourcing can be easily generated via the respective control software. This reduces the administrative effort and at the same time eliminates sources of error, which repeatedly lead to expensive operational interruptions in non-automated warehouses.

Worth knowing about the warehouse control of an automated warehouse logistics

In order to make automated warehouse logistics usable in the first place, a special control unit is required. The automated warehouse logistics, i.e. the software linked to the hardware, is therefore the warehouse management system. This not only allows tasks related to goods receipt to be controlled, but also aspects such as forklift control, order picking and goods issue.

In short: Automated warehouse logistics represents the basic structure within which intralogistics processes can be controlled and designed according to requirements. This makes it possible to optimize the entire process chain with the automated warehouse logistics, which in turn is reflected in a wide range of advantages.

Advantages of using automated warehouse logistics:

  • Automation of all storage tasks in automated warehouse logistics
  • Space-saving integration due to the full utilization of the room height with automated warehouse logistics
  • Scalable and therefore adaptable to operational requirements
  • Transparent processes, which reduces or completely eliminates sources of error
  • High throughput even with a wide range of products with automated warehouse logistics
  • Optional structuring in the form of single or multiple storage
  • Reduced access times result in shorter delivery times thanks to automated warehouse logistics

Advantages of using automated warehouse logistics

In plain language: An automatic small parts warehouse (AKL) enables fully automated operation and control using stacker cranes or so-called shuttles (autonomous warehouse vehicles).

Selected aspects that speak for the implementation of automated warehouse logistics

Since each company has other objectives and at the same time contributes different basic requirements, automated warehouse logistics are usually a custom-made. At least in the way that a modular structure is given. This will take into account the aspect that a later adjustment (expansion of the capacities and / or modification of the system structure) is possible.

The principle applies: the more flexible such automated warehouse logistics are, the more complex and expensive it is to implement.

So-called adaptive automated warehouse logistics, which are based on a basic algorithm and adapt themselves to new situations and tasks in a self-learning manner, are increasingly being used in industry. Since the internal logistics costs often account for more than ten percent of the annual turnover, especially in industry, the possible synergy effects are enormous.

Other factors that should not be ignored when evaluating automated warehouse logistics:

That means: With an intelligent, automatic warehouse control system, processes can be made more dynamic and cost-efficient. This in turn affects the margin and competitiveness in an increasingly competitive market.