Making the Transition to Automation

transition to automation

Recently, it seems as if automation is the key to ultimate supply chain optimization. Everywhere you look, logistics-based companies flock to these robotic innovations.

From automated order entry to robotic unloaders, automation has proven over and over that it improves efficiency. 

The main problem many logistics businesses face is coming up with the right strategy to make the transition to automation go smoothly. But, just as with any other program, the key to success is forming a detailed plan that helps guide all stakeholders and team members in simplifying the transition. 

In this blog post, we’ll be providing you with a few tips that may help you make the transition to automation a process that avoids some of the larger hurdles.


Gather Input from All Departments

A logistics company is much more than its leadership.

It’s the ‘boots on the ground’ that complete most of the work, serve customers, and keep the flagship afloat during slow seasons.

One of the first steps before deciding to automate things is gathering input from all stakeholders in the company. This includes everyone from the general laborers on the warehouse floor every day right up to the logistics manager.

Now, this doesn’t mean you need to hold a companywide meeting that will turn into a complaint session. Rather, gather up your team leaders or supervisors from each department and discuss the pros and cons of integrating automation. From there, the chain of command should kick in and they in-turn pass this knowledge or training down to their individual teams.

By seeking input from multiple departments, you’ll mitigate several potential obstructions as you begin to transition to automation. Additionally, it’ll improve morale and help enhance the relationship between management and the team. 


Do Your Due Diligence 

Research and planning are important steps that should be completed before attempting to transition to automation. Research needs to be robust and complete. Looking at and reviewing the pros and cons of working with different vendors goes much further than the price of the new tools. 

Research should factor the cost of a full transition to automation. From the price of the technology to the time needed to train employees on it should all be given a high level of attention.

Your research should also include any historically reported disruption of service or inefficiencies.

Before making a final decision, do your due diligence with research. 


Consider the Technology 

Automation tends to be a pricy investment in the future of any supply chain operation. However, the level of technology included in your automated systems should be considered. This is especially true when you’re in the planning stages of integration. 

Consider some of the following technological factors:

  • Skill needed to operate: Some automated systems are exceptionally advanced. These platforms might require a specialist to operate, manage, and fine-tune them for optimal efficiency. This should be considered before purchasing the system as it will impact the cost of goods and operational expenses. 
  • Scalability Factor: Many supply chains experience peaks and valleys of sales or activity. Some periods of the year may require additional user accounts, which may represent only a few months of actual time. If the technology is scalable, this offers flexibility to add or subtract user accounts as needed. 


Get Help from Professionals in Logistics Automation

Automation is a great tool for improving efficiency in supply chain operations.

However, it’s also a slippery slope that can lead to negative performance if not correctly planned.

It’s due to this reason that working with a company with experience in finding the right automation tools for specific industries is something that all logistics businesses should carefully consider. 


Final Thoughts

Finding a 3PL to help guide you through the transition to automation is nothing short of the best option available.

An experienced 3PL like Redwood Logistics understands the complete supply chain industry, inside and out.

From the struggles that warehouses and fulfillment centers deal with, to the challenges inherent with shipping, manufacturing, and transportation. A reputable 3PL deals in all these areas and more on a daily basis. They are capable of providing a "big picture" perspective to allow their clients to target otherwise hidden pain points and develop a strategy that fits their business model. This big-picture perspective extends to the technology and automated tools used by these businesses to improve customer service, save money, and streamline the entire process. 

They’re also quite adept at creating plans for integration and performing cost-analysis to determine if the investment will deliver a measurable ROI. 

If automation upgrades are on your radar, contact Redwood Logistics first!