Dark warehouses are fully automated and can function 24/7 without human assistance or shop floor workers.
Dark warehouses use a mix of fully interconnected automated machinery, AMRs (Autonomous Mobile Robots) and AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) to perform all tasks 24/7.
They tend to be purpose-built facilities requiring massive upfront investment rather than customizing existing buildings.
How does a dark warehouse differ from bright or dim warehouses?
A dark or lights-out facility can function without human assistance or shop floor workers. Bright facilities are largely staffed by human workers, while dim warehouses and logistics operations rely on a mix of humans and robots working alongside each other.
What are the activities carried out in a dark warehouse?
In order to become fully “dark,” the warehouse needs to automate all of its warehouse activities which includes processes such as receiving, putaway, storage, picking, as well as sorting & staging for shipping.
In a dark facility, almost all functions are also automated, for example input of raw components, assembly and sub assembly, and testing.
What equipment/technology do you need for a dark warehouse?
It is a combination of many pieces of automated equipment, including robot arms, shuttles, sorters, conveyors, AS/RSs, box folders, labelers, sensors, scanners, and AMRs that each perform a specialized function.
To support the various items of equipment, specialist and robust software, systems need to be put in place (this could be Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning programmes) which help to connect the entire facility together.
What are the pre-requisites to dark warehouses?
A dark warehouse is a significant investment which you have to build from the ground up so that it’s optimized for the equipment needed. For example, you would not need traditional aisles for people or forklifts so you can increase storage & equipment density if needed.
The facility would also required the implementation of a Power and Network infrastructure as well as sufficient space for conveyor runs, automated storage and retrieval systems and person-to-goods AMR systems, charging systems, and maintenance access.
What are the benefits of a dark warehouse?
The main benefit is that you can achieve huge order throughput or extremely high production output with humans and robots working side by side. Companies can build efficient processes to meet production goals and there can be less chance for error using automated technology.
With e-commerce pressure on businesses to deliver orders, automated warehouses can run 24/7 enabling businesses to satisfy customer needs in a quick and efficient manner.