How SLAM Lines Are Revolutionizing E-Commerce Operations

First Published: September 20, 2023

If you work in e-commerce, you’ll be familiar with the SLAM concept. Outside of the industry, maybe not so much.

A lot of automation is finding its way into e-commerce and distribution – if you’ve been to a ProMat or Modex show in recent years, you’ll see that robots and other types of automation are everywhere.

A SLAM line, or SCAN, LABEL, APPLY, MANIFEST line, is an automated system used in e-commerce facilities to scan, label, apply, and manifest packages for shipping. It is typically located in the last 100 feet of the order fulfillment process, just before the packages are sent to the shipping carrier.

The SLAM line is located at the final stage of order picking and packing, and all the parts of the process are controlled by the warehouse or logics control software.

The operator (human or robot) will have loaded an order into its packaging and applied a barcode label on the outside. The barcode is a unique number (called a license plate number or LPN) that the operator scans to associate the LPN with that particular order.

The image shows an Amazon LPN label, that would have been applied when the box was packed and sealed.

Once this label has been applied and scanned, the package and others from more picking stations can move to the slam line.

The SLAM line typically consists of the following components:

  • A barcode scanner: This scans the LPN barcode on the package to identify the order and the shipping information.
  • A scale: This weighs the package to determine the weight of the completed package for shipping.
  • A dimensioner: This measures the dimensions of the package to determine the shipping dimensions.
  • A label print and apply system: This prints and applies the shipping label to the package.
  • A manifest printer prints the manifest, a list of all the packages being shipped in a particular batch. In many cases, this is all handled electronically, and a printed copy is not required.

The operation of a SLAM line is as follows:

  1. The package arrives on the SLAM line along with other packages of various types and sizes for other orders.
  2. The barcode scanner scans the LPN barcode on the package and communicates this to the warehouse software. The LPN number is unique to the particular order and allows all of the order and shipment information to be retrieved from the database.
  3. The scale weighs the package and transmits the data to the warehouse software.
  4. The dimensioner measures the dimensions of the package and uploads this data to the warehouse software.
  5. The real-time size and weight data from the package is combined with the order information in the database to enable the label printer to print the appropriate shipping label. Immediately after printing, the shipping label is automatically applied to the package.
  6. The database is updated with the shipping manifest information, which is provided to the carrier.
  7. The package is removed from the SLAM line and sent to the shipping carrier for delivery to the customer.

SLAM lines can help e-commerce facilities improve efficiency and accuracy in the shipping process. They can also help to reduce labor costs by automating many of the manual tasks involved in shipping.

Here are some of the benefits of using an automated SLAM line in an e-commerce facility:

  • Increased efficiency: SLAM lines can help to speed up the shipping process by automating many of the manual tasks involved.
  • Improved accuracy: SLAM lines can help reduce shipping process errors by ensuring that the correct shipping labels are applied to the proper packages.
  • Reduced labor costs: SLAM lines can help to reduce labor costs by automating many of the manual tasks involved in shipping.
  • Increased scalability: SLAM lines can be easily scaled up or down to meet the needs of a growing business.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: SLAM lines can help to improve customer satisfaction by ensuring that orders are shipped quickly and accurately.

If you are an e-commerce business looking to improve the efficiency and accuracy of your shipping process, then a SLAM line is a good option to consider.

Many logistics and materials automation companies will be happy to put this kind of solution together for you.

Further Reading

A look at Amazon’s SLAM process: Amazon Inside Look

MHI’s SLAM Industry Group

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