February 13 2013


Is AS/RS right for you?

By: Dan Labell

How can manufacturers and distributors determine which AS/RS system is right for their plant?

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. There are a few simple rules to investing in warehouse automation:

  1. Buy only the highest quality equipment. Don’t think that the best deal will provide the lowest cost to your firm. The downtime associated with problems from lower quality equipment is too expensive and will quickly erode the initial cost savings.
  2. Think longterm. Every successful business has a vision that requires small, steady steps to reach goals that are realistic and profitable. Because an AS/RS has a 20+ year life, don’t expect a 12-month payback.
  3. Introduce operating personnel early. Include operating personnel early in the process and make them a part of the project team before the system goes online.
  4. Think proactively. Preventive maintenance is far less expensive than reactive repair. Talk to the experts who design and maintain the equipment and take necessary action.
  5. Don’t buy from companies that cannot demonstrate their successful expertise in environments similar to your project requirements.

These rules sound basic and simple. All too often, however, one or more are not applied, which results in unrealistic expectations and frustration. At Westfalia, we avoid this by sticking to the fundamentals, staying within our core competencies, and making sure that we can fully identify with the customer’s problem domain.