October 01 2018

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Common misconceptions about automation

When it comes to automation, there tends to be several misconceptions causing hesitation in making the next steps to optimizing your warehouse. Don’t let these shy you away from automation technology. Automated warehousing is one of the only remaining areas that can significantly reduce long-term costs. Purchasing low-cost, low-quality, warehouse automation machinery is often more expensive than staying with a manual system. Debunk common misconceptions about automation and move one step closer to determining if an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) is the right decision for your business.

The cost of automating is too expensive:

Everything has a cost, some larger than others, but this is a huge reason many companies turn away from automation. There is a fear that they will not be able to see a return, with in fact is not true. While ROI won’t be seen instantly, primarily because an AS/RS typically has a 25+ year life cycle, payback is often achieved in 3-5 years.

But be sure to buy only the highest quality equipment and don’t think that the best deal will provide the lowest cost to your firm. Lower quality equipment may cause expensive downtime that will quickly erode the initial cost savings. So think long-term when investing in automation. Additional savings can be seen through reduced labor, damaged product and maintenance costs, while simultaneously increasing accuracy and productivity within the warehouse.

My current location isn’t ideal for automation:

An AS/RS can be customized for a plethora of scenarios and can fit into practically any size facility, no matter the number of SKUs or pallets. These systems are very versatile, scaling as high as 130 feet or as low as 20 feet. An in-depth data analysis should be conducted to determine if automation is right for your business and to pinpoint the areas that you are struggling most. Take a look at your inventory to see how much you want to store and how many SKUs you will need. You will also want to look at your operations as a whole, including how many hours/shifts your warehouse is operational. Our engineers will then use this information and our expertise to design a system that is right for your specific business.

My team isn’t capable of running/maintaining the automated system:

A true partner will never sell you equipment and leave you out to dry. However, in order to be successful when implementing automation into your warehouse, you want to be sure to introduce your operating personnel early in the process. Make them a part of the project before the system goes online to ensure that they are comfortable with working with the new system. Think proactively. While no one wants to think about the AS/RS faulting or the equipment needing to be repaired, preventative maintenance is far less expensive than reactive repair. Talk to the experts who design and maintain the equipment, and they will get you back on track. Our company has an excellent service team who can also retrain anyone that needs a refresher on the system and how it works.

Investing in automation is a huge undertaking and can be overwhelming resulting in unrealistic expectations and frustration. As your partner, we stick to the fundamentals, and are there for you during every step of the process. Our goal is to design a system that fits your needs directly and will help your business grow into the future. Contact us today to begin your data analysis.