Meet tomorrow’s needs
03 June 2021
There are 3 things to consider when automating your warehouse, says Justin Saw, business development director, Logistex.
There are many things to think about when considering introducing automation or mechanisation to any logistics operation, however 3 things which should not be overlooked are Tomorrow’s Needs, System Requirements and Implementation.
Tomorrow’s Needs: May 2020 saw a step change in e-fulfilment. The impact of not investing may result in customer expectations not being realised. We have seen the rise of e-com operations such as Amazon who offer later cut off and next day or even same day delivery, so future market expectations should be evaluated.
Operationally, consideration should be given to order profiles as this can influence the type of technology and the solution specified. Historical and future data are design prerequisites, however any significant change to order profiles could modify the design. Are the lines per order or SKU range likely to increase?
Similarly, are there any planned changes in the packaging or size of SKU stored? With pressure on companies to reduce the use of plastics, could this impact on the way product is stored or shipped?
Flexibility is key to providing successful solutions for the longer term. Logistex use both simulation and emulation to illustrate how a solution will perform. Using emulation as part of the design process enables different scenarios to be modelled, increasing confidence that the technology proposed is fit for tomorrow’s needs.
System Requirements: The ‘Brains’ of a solution, a Warehouse Control System (WCS) is normally a requirement of any automated solution and manages the flow of activity. The WCS will interface with a WMS, which is often modified or replaced to optimise the performance of the equipment specified.
For example, if you are considering an order forwarding system, there may well be a benefit in having both pick to carton and batch pick operations running simultaneously with the solution storing the same SKU in multiple locations to ensure a smoother flow of product.
If the operation is to run multiple shifts, it is essential to have access to a 24/7 hotline supported by engineers who understand or are familiar with the system. Many Customers need to adapt quickly to market needs, so ensure a systems provider can offer an agile approach with access to Systems Architects and Software Developers.
Implementation: Delivering any project on time and to budget is linked to planning and preparation for both customer and supplier. Whether greenfield or live environment, delivering a successful project relies on having a strong motivated team with a clear and proven approach. Logistex has a high level of experience in implementing projects with integrated teams, significantly reducing risk. Testing of the system also requires planning and preparation, and engagement from both supplier and customer, so forming a partnership which includes multiple departments and stakeholders is important.
In view of this, the establishment of Steering Groups helps to ensure both supplier and Customer are ready at Go-Live. Regular communication ahead of Go-Live ensures everyone is fully prepared, training is completed, and support services are in place enabling the finishing line to be crossed together.
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