Increasing the Efficiency of an Automated Warehouse System to Meet Demand

Increasing the Efficiency of an Automated Warehouse System to Meet Demand

What is an automated warehouse system?

An automated warehouse system involves the use of robots and other equipment, such as conveyors, to automate warehouse processes. The goal is to increase the efficiency of storing and retrieving goods.

To further improve these systems, companies usually reorganize layouts or implement solutions for warehouse automation. Simulation modeling for warehouse operations is an effective strategy for these improvements. It allows businesses to test and refine changes virtually, minimizing risk and ensuring the effectiveness of the upgrade before actual implementation.

In this project, we focus on how Browns Shoes, a retailer in Canada, optimized their operations with automated warehouse solutions using AnyLogic.

Overview of the warehouse management system project

Browns Shoes is a leading independent footwear chain in North America, with 70 stores across Canada. It's an 83-year-old family business known for its high-quality shoes, innovative store design, and excellent customer service.

SimWell is a global consulting firm focused on simulation, optimization, and digital twins. Founded in 2015, it has around 70 employees worldwide and has been an AnyLogic partner since 2018. The company’s purpose is to help businesses improve their operations by using advanced simulation modeling.

They collaborated to upgrade Browns Shoes automated warehouse system to handle increased order volumes more efficiently. The team used AnyLogic to simulate different improvements virtually before implementing them. This approach ensured the warehouse operations were optimized and responsive to growing demands.


In 2015, Browns Shoes launched a new distribution center equipped with an automated storage and retrieval system, also known as an automated warehouse system. This system was important for managing the company’s wide range of shoes efficiently and for quickly and accurately fulfilling orders.

However, by 2023, with more orders coming in, the initial automated warehouse system setup just couldn't keep up. It was clear that the same number of picking stations and the old operational methods were hitting their limits. This caused slowdowns and delays in order fulfillment.

Simulation model of the automated warehouse system, created using AnyLogic software

Automated system solution for the warehouse management system project (click to enlarge)

Browns Shoes was looking to upgrade and optimize their automated warehouse system. To handle more orders, they aimed to keep their delivery quick and reliable.

The company thought about various scenarios and experiments they wanted to try:

However, to be sure of their decision, Browns Shoes first tested these ideas with simulation modeling before implementing the changes in real life.

Solution for the warehouse management system project

Browns Shoes teamed up with SimWell for this project. Initially, they built a simulation model for the automated warehouse system using other software.

However, since AnyLogic simulation software is known for its flexibility and 3D visualization, the team decided to switch to it. By doing so, SimWell could accurately simulate the warehouse’s operations and explore various strategies to optimize the warehouse layout.

The simulation model they created was detailed, showing exactly how the warehouse works. It demonstrated how shoes, packed in big cartons in the automated warehouse system, were sent to picking stations based on order requirements.

This model was key in figuring out how adding more picking stations and another conveyor belt loop could reduce bottlenecks, speed up processes, and optimize the warehouse.

Simulation model of the automated warehouse system, created using AnyLogic software

Automated warehouse system after optimization with additional features (click to enlarge)

A big improvement in the company’s warehouse management system project was adding a carton erector to make packing quicker and save a lot of time. The simulation model accurately tracked the movement of boxes from the warehouse to the picking areas and showed how this change could improve efficiency.

The team made sure the simulation accurately mimicked how the conveyor belts' sensors and sections work, giving a true-to-life view of automated warehouse operations. They even modeled what would happen if a misaligned box blocked a conveyor belt. This demonstrated the ripple effect and how the system handles it.

This helped Brown Shoes understand how well their automated warehouse system was able to recover from outages so that they could further optimize their operations.

Simulation model of the automated warehouse system, created using AnyLogic software

Conveyor belt is blocked by a misaligned box (click to enlarge)

The simulation model also managed the complexity of the automated warehouse system, showing how its lifts and shuttles move boxes around efficiently. Using this tool, the client would be able to determine whether adding more lanes or changing the layout could further optimize the warehouse.


With AnyLogic, Browns Shoes could simulate potential improvements within the warehouse to see how they would function in real life. This allowed the company to experiment with different setups without the expense or disruption of changing the actual automated warehouse. In fact, Brown Shoes saved a lot of time and effort.

By using AnyLogic Cloud, Browns Shoes and SimWell could easily share and refine the simulation model of the automated warehouse system. The cloud platform was important for gathering feedback, timely adjusting changes, and optimizing the warehouse's performance.

What the company has achieved:

Two graphs comparing the performance of different layouts in an automated warehouse system

The results of the warehouse management system project

The team plans to keep testing different warehouse setups. They're particularly interested in an empty carton system that could further help with warehouse optimization. They also want to further refine the automated warehouse system to prevent overloading and better manage cartons.

Looking forward:

The work isn't done, but the path forward is clearer. The team is focused on making the automated warehouse system as efficient as possible to ensure Browns Shoes remains a leader in customer service.

Discover how companies around the world, including Walmart, DHL, and Migros Online, used AnyLogic to improve their warehouse operations.

The case study was presented by André Jacques from SimWell at the AnyLogic Conference 2023.

The slides are available as a PDF.

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