Increases in e-commerce demand, stock-keeping unit (SKU) count, and labor shortages (as well as decreasing technology costs) are all pressuring companies to increase automation in their distribution centers (DCs). But before they embrace sophisticated automation, companies should make sure they have a sound operational foundation in place, advised executives from the forklift company The Raymond Corp. during an educational session on the first day of MHI’s ProMatDX 2021 digital trade show.
Raymond offers several highly automated and robotic solutions, such as automate guided vehicles (AGVs) and a semi-automated pallet shuttle system. But before companies should consider implementing any of these solutions, they should first optimize their processes by implementing Lean thinking. Second, they should utilize technology to gather more data about their operations, set metrics and key performance indicators, and provide feedback to employees about their work performance. These types of technologies include telematics, labor management systems, and virtual reality simulators.
“Associates may be intimidated by these systems at first,” said Keith Ingels, Raymond Lean Management Manager of Solutions and Support Centers, “But as they get used to them, it helps them build confidence and identify best practices.”
Once companies have taken these steps to optimize their operations, they are then ready for higher levels of automation. This level of automation may include systems and sensors that help lift trucks move automatically to pick locations or detect objects in their way. It may also include AGVs and shuttle systems.
This presentation will be available on demand to registered attendees on April 19, 2021. Registration is still available for free here.