To Automate or Not to Automate? That is the Question.
|Bob Lutz – Author
Where to Start When Thinking About Automating
Automation can sound enticing when you are thinking about working smarter to increase profitability or output. If your competitors are using automated material handling systems, it could be time to consider integrating specific types of automation into your operation. Below are some of the difficult questions to consider when deciding whether or not to automate.
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7 Questions to Ask Before You Automate
- Do I have the budget to automate to the levels required?
- There are many different levels of automation; knowing your available budget and determining the cost will help you find the RightFit solution.
- Automation can offer many benefits down the road, but initially there is a significant investment depending upon your current operations.
- Is there a reasonable payback to justify automation?
- Every company defines what a reasonable payback period is for their business…2 years…3 years? Each company is different and should have an expected ROI period that makes sense for return on capital investment.
- Whatever the projected date is, return on investment should be measured based on the following considerations:
- Labor savings
- Increased products shipped
- Decreased order-to-shipment cycle time
- Decreased product returns due to accuracy and substitution errors
- What are your material handling needs and what role can automation play in meeting them?
- If it works, why change it
- Improve speed and accuracy
- Increased volume necessitates a change
- Increased costs due to inefficient operations
- Are you being surpassed by your competitors because they have automated?
- Keeping stride with your competitors
- Ability to offer products at reduced prices due to lower operational costs
- Be an Industry Leader/Pioneer
- Once you decide to automate, how do you chose a system that best fits your needs and produces the highest ROI?
- Automation can be very costly if it is not applied correctly
- Choose an integrator to help analyze your current operation and help find the RightFit automation solution across all technology providers
- A phased approach can help you manage your cash outlay while experiencing positive returns on your investment
- How do you transition from the old system to the new one without affecting the operation?
- This is a critical aspect to any successful automation project
- A proper plan can minimize the disruption to operations during the implementation process
- Without a plan, the transition can be disastrous
- Once fully operational, how do you guard against system failure?
- Depending on the level of automation, system failures can be devastating without a plan in place to keep operations running smoothly in the event of any unexpected downtime.
Automation can be a a game changer if it is designed and implemented properly, and is scalable for future growth. Don’t shy away from automation because you’re afraid to over-automate. Like with any system expansion, if you make an informed decision based on due diligence, you will have a well-oiled machine that can improve efficiency, increase profits, and pay dividends for years to come.
Now that you know what to look for before deciding to automate, it’s time to dive deeper into the Discovery Phase. Conveyco can help answer any questions you may have about your next steps. Contact us here and speak to one of our knowledgeable Account Executives!