Benefits of Working with a Systems Integrator when Designing Your DC
If you’re in the process of planning a new DC, chances are good that you’ve at least considered working with a systems integrator during the design process. If you’ve worked with a systems integrator in the past, you know the kind of value that they bring to the table, but if you’ve never collaborated with one before you may be wondering if they’re truly worth the cost.
While it’s true that a systems integrator might not be required for each and every project—there are tons of variables that might impact your ultimate decision—they do bring a lot of value. Here are 5 benefits that a systems integrator can bring to your design-build process.
1. They bring an impartial evaluation of your design plans.
Workplace politics can be a tricky world. In most businesses, there is a hierarchy when it comes to workers and ideas, and this hierarchy can make it difficult for ideas to flow freely. And it makes sense: No one wants to openly disagree with their boss or make the higher-ups look stupid, for fear of reprisal.
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And that’s one reason why working with a systems integrator can be so valuable. When it comes to evaluating your warehouse design (if you already have one in mind) or creating their own, a systems integrator doesn’t need to worry about stepping on your toes, making you look foolish, or navigating the politics of your particular workplace.
Systems integrators know that they were hired for their expertise, and that you are relying on them for their honest feedback. And because of this, they will tell you when they disagree with something that you want. Systems integrators aren’t going to be yes-men: They’re going to make sure that you have the most efficient DC possible.
2. Working with outside help frees up inhouse resources.
You might think that it makes sense to work with your internal resources to design your new DC—after all, who knows your business better than you and your employees?
But while it’s true that your employees should play an important piece in the design process, they are not warehouse designers. Making them responsible for design when design is not their strength is a waste of their ability, expertise, time, and effort.
By letting your employees do what they’re good at—their real jobs—and leaning on a systems integrator to help with the design, your job will get done quicker, more efficiently, and with less stress. Better yet, by working with outside help and freeing up your internal resources to keep things running smoothly, your internal processes won’t get thrown off kilter, something that can be a common problem during design builds that rely on internal resources.
3. They bring an outside view.
Yes, no one knows your business quite as well as you do. And while that understanding is a valuable asset, and is something that is needed to build a truly efficient DC, it also brings with it a challenge: You’re too close.
When you’ve done the same things the same ways for years or decades, it can be difficult to see or imagine new solutions. If you fail to recognize areas that your operation can improve, then your new DC is unlikely to reach its true potential. By bringing in an outside resource like a systems integrator, you are bringing in an outside view that has the ability to see things from a different perspective.
A quality systems integrator will have worked on a number of projects spread throughout a number of industries. Some of these projects and industries will have been similar to yours, and some will have been different. This has given them insight into how different technologies can be used and how different solutions can be implemented in new and unexpected ways to achieve groundbreaking levels of efficiency. This experience and outside perspective is what you are really paying for when you work with a systems integrator.
4. They have relationships with different manufacturers/systems providers.
If you’re going to design a truly effective DC, you need to know what options you have at your disposal. What technologies and systems are available to solve the problem(s) that you need to solve so that you can improve your KPIs and better serve your customers?
If you’re designing your facility yourself, you’re going to only have your own research or prior experiences to fall back on. Who was that company you worked with last time? Are they still in business? What new solutions do they offer?
A systems integrator, on the other hand, regularly stays on top of the new solutions, technologies, and providers that enter and leave the scene—it’s just something they need to do. From sortation systems to ASRS to automated packaging to standard conveyors, systems integrators know about all of the new developments in the world of materials handling and order fulfillment.
This expertise allows them to suggest the best-in-breed solutions for your particular problems. And because they usually have relationships with the manufacturers/systems providers, they can often leverage those relationships into discounts that can save you some money.
While any systems success is a joint and collaborative effort between the operations team and the design team, it is ideal to let each team do what they do best. Even large clients who have robust engineering groups that work closely with operations teams to develop concepts around their business’s needs rely on integrators to take those ideas and creatively apply technologies to them to help improve them and provide heightened efficiencies where possible.
An integrator has a vested interest in making sure that the final facility design is successful in meeting your expectations. Their name is tied to the project, and they want to be associated with a successful projects. It’s their business to make sure that they are implementing the best systems possible for your needs.
Bringing Everything to the Table
When weighing the pros and cons of working with a systems integrator to design your new DC or warehouse, it’s important to keep in mind the benefits that they will bring to the table that just can’t be expected of an internal team. The true value of a quality integrator lies in their experience, their expertise, and their commitment to your success.