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Logistics automation: Make your mechanization or robotization project a success

According to Gartner, 96% of companies already use automated systems in their logistics warehouses or plan to do so within the next two to three years. For mechanized systems, this figure is 67%. The mechanization or robotization of one or more processes is a project in itself: before, during, and even after implementation, there are many factors to consider in order to achieve the best possible return on your investment.

Mechanization or robotization: Set your goals in advance

There reasons why companies choose to mechanize or automate some of their processes are many and varied—and specific to each warehouse: from improving productivity, and reducing order picking errors, to reducing the burden of work on operators, densifying storage, and more. In any event, the first thing to do is to precisely identify your warehouse’s requirements and to set your end goals.

Analyze your requirements before embarking on automation

Begin by asking yourself a series of key questions, such as which logistics flows need to be improved and could potentially be mechanized, and how your processes and flows be modified and reorganized. It’s important to carry out this kind of analysis before you start selecting and comparing equipment providers, because the answers will determine whether mechanization is feasible and what return on investment you might expect.

Remember that automated systems are secondary to the WMS

Whatever kind of mechanized or automated system you choose, it’s important not to fall into the common trap of overestimating the role it will play. Ultimately, the WMS will remain the most important tool for managing your warehouse.  That’s why it’s vital, before embarking on this kind of project, to check a few key details to make sure that your WMS can properly manage any potential automated or mechanized systems.

Don’t overlook the importance of change management

A mechanization or automation project will have major implications for the overall organization of your logistics site, as well as for your processes. That’s why, for a project of this kind, change management is just as important as when you’re rolling out a new warehouse management system—and arguably even more so.

Consider what new KPIs you’ll need to track

Although your WMS software will continue to play a key role in orchestrating processes, consolidating data, and managing your warehouse in general, it’s important to bear in mind the organizational impact of automation. You’ll need to adapt not only the processes that WMS manages, but also the KPIs you use to track performance.