Slowly Integrating Warehouse Automation is the Key
Last Updated Aug 2, 2023
Warehouse automation technology has been rapidly changing the supply chain industry in recent years.
From manufacturing facilities to fulfillment centers, automation tech streamlines all sorts of daily tasks. While a cobot is picking packages to be shipped, an automated guided vehicle (AGV) can be controlled at the loading dock to more easily load goods onto trucks.
There are a variety of warehouse automation solutions on the market at the moment. However, regardless of the role that they each fulfill, all of them serve one main purpose; to streamline operations.
But, as with any other major change being made to operations across the board, automated tools should be slowly integrated. This starts with creating a plan that takes into consideration the areas of your operation that need improvement and then identifying the automation tools that would be of the most benefit.
In this blog post, we will be talking about the best way to integrate automated systems into your own warehouse. Furthermore, we will outline how to identify areas of improvement, choose the right automation platform and briefly touch on the follow-up needed in order to ensure these systems deliver the best ROI possible.
Create a Warehouse Automation Strategy Plan
The first thing that any supply chain organization should add to its automation checklist is creating a strategy for full integration. This includes identifying the most prominent areas of weakness in your organization, determining why and how automation helps resolve these issues and creating a plan to ensure the technology is implemented without disrupting your ability to continually serve customers.
This strategy also includes determining a budget for purchasing a platform, cost of training and the annual expense to maintain these solutions.
From the start, it is crucial to get a big-picture perspective. Starting with a rather broad view of your entire warehouse operation ensures you don’t miss any steps.
Identify Your Pain Points
Many logistics businesses integrate automation to simply keep up with the competition. They do it quickly and try to rush the entire process.
While trying to remain competitive is always a smart idea, this strategy rarely works out when it comes to restructuring. Instead, spend the extra time researching your options and most importantly, identifying your pain points.
Which daily warehousing tasks could you improve upon?
How will automation tech help?
The reason you are employing automation solutions is important. In fact, it is more important than the specific tools you use or how fast you can put them to work. After all, if you don't have a clear direction in mind, you could have the best tools in the world and it still won't matter much.
By identifying the pain points first, you can locate the tools that will help you solve these issues. If needed, contact a professional 3PL to help you locate areas of improvement. Additionally, they can help you pick automation tools that will resolve these issues.
Collaboration is Crucial
It’s quite common for businesses to assign the task of integrating automation to a single individual.
This is another strategy that tends to backfire quite frequently. When they are not available, how do you keep your automated solutions up and running smoothly?
To avoid this, take time to build a team that collaborates well with one another to find the most important areas of improvement, the correct tools that solve them, and create a training or implementation strategy that allows for a seamless transition. Train them on the tools and swap them in and out of those roles periodically. This way, you have a full team capable of running the tools without dependence on one or two people.
This allows the process to move smoothly all-around. Most importantly, it provides some level of operational security if specific individuals are no longer with the team.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
With each step listed above, the most important thing to remember is that you need to take your time.
Automation is best used and most successful when its implementation is slow and steady. Rushing into the wrong decision can cost a supply chain thousands of dollars in loss and create more pain points to resolve. Worst yet, it creates upset customers.
The best tool available to warehouses, fulfillment centers, carriers, shippers, distributors, and retailers is a full-service 3PL like Redwood Logistics.
Having first-hand knowledge and a robust team of experienced, specialized project managers helps logistics businesses make better-informed decisions.