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Everyone knows how warehouses work, right? Goods come into the receiving area, and then they’re moved to shelves, bins, and pallets. Workers take orders from a central point and then fill orders by walking the warehouse, picking items and packing them to ship out.

But newer technology is transforming this common paradigm of warehouse operations into new, efficient automated warehouses. Goods to people (GTP) is a different way of thinking about picking that moves items to workers rather than workers to items. It cuts down on fatigue, mistakes, and overhead.

How does the technology work? There are many systems available for all sizes and types of warehouses and businesses, but the general idea is the same. In a GTP system, orders are entered or retrieved from a central database such as an ERP system. Then, automated equipment finds the items in the warehouse, retrieves them, checks them out of inventory, and moves them to the picking area.

Some GTP systems rely upon cranes on tracks that roll along warehouse shelves, stopping at the right stop and removing items to rolling bins that shuttle them to waiting packing stations. Others use vehicles that cruise the warehouse aisles, picking up items picked by the system and moved to the end cap location. A newer kind of system enables the shuttle to lift off, traversing every aisle at multiple levels so that vertical spaces are conquered and utilized.

GTP systems aren’t new, but they are evolving to the point where even small to mid-sized business can afford them. Many rely upon barcode scanning, so if you haven’t transformed to barcodes, it’s time. Nearly all evolving technology relies upon barcodes or a similar system to identify goods. If your warehouse isn’t up to speed, you’ll get left behind.