Most businesses know that automation improves efficiency and reduces overall costs. This is no less true for warehouse automation. But as with the adoption of any technology, there’s a cost in terms of time and initial investment. So when is the right time to automate your warehouse?
In a nutshell, if handling warehouse processes manually no longer meets the needs of your business, it is time for automation. In the changing and increasingly competitive supply chain landscape, business growth, agility and efficiencies are essential to remain competitive. If your business cannot achieve these objectives using manual processes, the time for automation has arrived.
With that in mind, here are five of the leading signs that it is time for warehouse automation. While this list is by no means comprehensive, these indicators make a good starting point.
- Current Processes Take Up Too Much Time and Manpower
Humans can only get so much work done in their allotted shifts, and they are also prone to making mistakes. If processes at your warehouse are taking up too much time and using too many of your precious human resources, it's time to make the switch to automation.
Not only are automated systems faster and more accurate than manual labor, they guarantee efficiency. And once your skilled workers are freed from repetitive and time-consuming manual processes, they can focus on higher-level business planning and strategizing.
- Inventory Levels and Order Fulfillment are Inaccurate
If your business is struggling to maintain accurate inventory levels, it's time to bring in a warehouse management system. These types of offerings maintain complete and accurate control over all inventory, regardless of whether a product is seasonal or ongoing.
Automated systems also ensure orders are fulfilled correctly, and it practically eliminates product damage. Since workers don't need to manually move products, there's less likelihood of damaged or misplaced products. That also means that workers benefit from a safer working environment with a decreased amount of physical labor. Automated systems handle everything from picking to lifting and moving heavy loads, in all kinds of temperatures and environments.
- Difficulty Getting Orders Out on Time
If your organization is struggling to get orders out on time, automation might be the solution. Warehouse automation sets up efficient picking processes, routes and sequences to improve overall management and performance within the warehouse.
Automation also eliminates the process of staged orders sitting around waiting to be picked up. Through automation, businesses may implement just-in-time order fulfillment, preparing orders on the fly when the delivery vehicle arrives on site. This frees up warehouse space, keeps inventory flowing smoothly, and ensures orders are sent on their way in the most timely manner possible.
- Legacy Technologies Require Too Much Upkeep for Too Little Return
If you're using outdated legacy technologies to manage your warehouse processes, chances are they're not providing you with the automation and efficiencies you need. And older legacy solutions typically require quite a bit of manpower from IT staff and managers just to keep running.
If your existing software and technologies are not providing you with the levels of management you need, it's time to invest in automation. Most automation solutions offer scalability and are easy to install and manage. Best-of-breed products also offer agility and the option of cloud deployment. The cloud enables solutions to become a recurring expense instead of a major capital expense, providing a great return on investment (ROI).
Warehouse automation may seem like a significant financial step. But bear in mind that within 12-16 months your business will realize huge productivity increases, cost savings and improved efficiencies, making warehouse automation technology a sound investment.
- Your Customers are Not Satisfied
Customer satisfaction is perhaps the most important benchmark of success for any business. If your customers are routinely unhappy because of the way your warehouse is managed and orders are fulfilled, it's time to make changes.
Warehouse automation solutions enable efficiencies. And automation streamlines business and physical processes, enabling orders to be picked, fulfilled and shipped in a more timely manner. Fast shipment is a competitive differentiator in today's supply chain, as is providing high levels of customer satisfaction.
Happy customers are repeat customers, and they are also more likely to favorably review your business, which in turn will help bring in new business. When your customers are routinely complaining about bad service and a bad experience, it's time for an automation solution.
If your business is experiencing any of the indicators above, you should begin the process of researching and investing in warehouse automation. Waiting simply may not be an option as competitors embrace automation and reap its many efficiencies and benefits.
We've now covered why you should automate your warehouse as well as when is the right time to take the plunge.
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