11th August 2020

Is warehouse automation right for you?

Sceptical about investing in warehouse automation? In this blog, we ask the all-important questions to help you arrive at a definitive answer.

Warehouse automation is everywhere these days. Whether it’s through conveyor, robotics or control systems, automation is shaping the way e-commerce and third-party logistics companies operate on a day-to-day basis.

In fact, according to a study by Interact Analysis, the UK warehouse automation market is now worth over $1.5 billion and is set to continue growing over the next five years.

It’s widely recognised as a way of expanding production, lowering operating costs and increasing fulfilment speed. However, as we all know, nothing in life comes for free. The upfront investment required for the equipment, installation and maintenance costs is a collective obstacle many simply aren’t willing to tackle.

With this in mind, we’ve included a series of questions to help you decide whether warehouse automation is the right investment for your company or not.

Is your warehouse short on storage space or do you need to increase inventory levels?

Storage space is a serious blocker in growth for many e-commerce and logistics companies. From the outside looking in, generating more business and needing to increase inventory is a wonderful thing – especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. However, trying to find extra room to accommodate new or in-demand inventory is a logistical nightmare.

After dismissing the idea of turning away business, this leaves you with two options: either upgrade to a bigger warehouse or invest in automation. As you already know, renting or buying a bigger warehouse can be incredibly expensive when you factor in the moving costs, higher running rates and time wasted on workers getting from A to B.

Nowadays, conveyors can be fitted in higher positions, freeing up the workspace and giving you the opportunity to store inventory below. One of the biggest errors in warehouse operations is that many companies only use what they can reach. Yet, warehouses are usually very tall, leaving you with wasted and untapped space above.

There are also opportunities with automation to increase the density of storage or optimise manual picking operations.

Do you struggle to find workers to fill positions or are suffering from poor staff retention?

Recruiting and training new workers can cost a lot of money. It requires resource and applies added stress, which isn’t what you want during busier periods around Christmas. Automating operations via robotics and conveyors can replace the need for skilled workers in some positions while reducing the need for heavy lifting and unnecessary human errors.

Do you want to improve the time it takes to source or make a product and dispatch it?

As we mentioned in our previous blog, around 50% of a worker’s day is wasted walking and lifting in a warehouse. If you want to reduce this, automating parts of the production line or implementing simple controls and conveyors can keep workers in one place. Thus, saving time and boosting productivity.

Do you have significant manpower requirements for picking operations which are resulting in high operating costs?

Investing in warehouse automation can reduce the number of workers required to fulfil orders and maintain monotonous operations such as sorting, painting and assembling. You can then reassign these workers to higher-level tasks which require a human touch. This is a powerful means of getting the job done and making the everyday tasks of a worker more fulfilling.

We’re here to help

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it might be time to discuss your need for automation. At Hills Electrical, we offer a range of complete turnkey solutions for automation and control systems that’ll deliver the best return on investment for your company. To find out more, get in touch with us today.

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