When you think about logistics automation, what really counts is that whatever concept you will adopt is aimed towards the objectives you have defined.
Too often, we encounter one of two situations:
- automation concepts are put in place with no clear objective (automation as an end in itself)
- some pre-defined concept is forced onto whatever customer requirements exist, no matter the fit
The result is that many automated logistics systems in the market fail to meet expectations and do not deliver a good return on investment.
What is a Better Way for Logistics Automation?
We therefore favor a more customer-centristic approach and emphasize the importance of clarity about the planning objectives: what is the problem which automation is supposed to solve? And how can we achieve this in the best possible way?
Before automating a process or a process step, we want to be sure that (a) improvements to the existing process do not render automation unnecessary and (b) that the process is needed at all. If both questions can be answered with yes, we will find the most suitable concept that will help you advance your objectives.
What are Reasonable Objectives of Automation Efforts?
There are many triggers of automation projects. Sometimes it is the legal framework of the respective country which would make a manually operated system too expensive or even unfeasible (Denmark is such a place where automation is often driven by legal requirements). Often it is the scarcity of qualified labor which drives automation projects. In some cases, it is the wish to become more productive so that higher output can be achieved with the existing workforce. In other cases companies want to enable really short order lead time and ship same day.
It is important to note that systems can be optimized towards different objectives. These objectives are partly conflicting, which means you cannot optimize for all of them at the same time. Take productivity and order lead time as an example: short order lead time requires surplus capacity so that orders never have to wait. Surplus capacity, however, means resources are not fully utilized and could produce more output, if you let them. We have seen quite a few projects where productivity was the sole headline for many months – until someone added that orders need to flow through the system in less than 20 minutes. Such requirements can change the optimum system setup a lot, which is why you need to define them in advance.
Tailoring the Solution
When we work with you, we do more than listen to what you say. Because, frankly, you might not know what to say. (And how could you? Chances are your job is not designing logistics systems.) So we will do our best to understand you and your business requirements, and we will guide you through the journey of objective definition, requirements specification, and system selection. And we promise honesty, which may mean that we tell you that you should not automate or that your ideas do not make sense. We believe that is the way to go and we know our customers appreciate it.