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Did Your Warehouse Robotic Automation Roadmap and Investment Suddenly Become 2021 Instead of 2026?
Consumer packaged goods (CPG), grocery and retail companies have had to rethink their warehousing operational processes and configuration to enable such things as social distancing and increased demand. These measures can often reduce productivity and effectiveness of the warehouse. Companies are looking progressively to robotic automation as a way to make the warehouse safer and more productive to ensure effective fulfillment processes.
As a result, many future state automation timelines have been accelerated due to an increase in the demand for e-commerce, which continues to grow even with brick-and-mortar stores reopening. Direct-to-consumer shipping has placed intense pressure on warehouse managers as they have gone from shipping large packages and cases directly to retail stores to shipping individual items in many small packages directly to consumers.
In a recent survey conducted by RetailWire and BrainCorp, “64% of retailers believe it is important to have a clear, executable, and budgeted robotics automation strategy in place in 2021, including 77% of large retailers.”
The challenges of safety issues, labor shortages, and increasing demand and costs are pushing corporations to accelerate their automation roadmaps.
Companies are looking to reduce the cognitive load for employees and redirecting them to focus on more high-value roles. Picking in a facility is a labor-intensive job that requires workers to take items from bins to fulfill customer orders. Many companies are looking to automate with picking systems that have robotic arms which include some type of suction or material gripper at the end that can more easily take items of different sizes from containers and place them into customer orders.
Many of the newly implemented automation solutions are able to scale with the current business while also continuing to scale as the business requirements change over time. “For example autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can be designed into an existing fulfillment center and then be redeployed and split up into smaller fleets if you later decide to add more micro fulfillment centers into your network.”
The following are several robotic automation technology areas for consideration:
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS)
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)
Automated Picking Tools
New Action: 4 Actions You Can Take Now
In order to inspire teams to achieve robotic automation goals in the warehouse, the following are several steps to ensure there is a strategic roadmap to deliver on accelerated timelines:
Define a vision: What is the team trying to achieve over the next 3+ years? The vision statement should be a notable description of the desired outcomes.
Create a strategy: How will the team achieve the vision? Develop a strategy statement that supports how the team will achieve its vision over the next 2-4 years. Determine several key strategic focus areas, which are a subset of the strategy that will be accomplished over the next 1-3 years.
Define key business metrics: Do you want to increase fulfillment or order accuracy – or both? How will the team stay accountable in achieving the team’s annual plan?
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t will be critical to understand how to calculate and assess each step in the fulfillment process in order to define the team’s vision, strategy and business metrics. It is important to know what your future state robotic automation goals are – now!
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