Warehouse automation is at the heart of business continuity in 2023

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Automation is proving essential for business continuity and profitability – especially in these unpredictable times. Chronic challenges within the logistics sector, such as labour shortages and rising material costs, mean businesses must innovate to grow. Wouter Satijn says 2023 will see a monumental drive towards automation. But, for automation projects to deliver the intended return, logistics companies must approach them from the right perspective. 

Automation doesn’t have to mean an overhaul 

With many different technologies available, automating warehouse operations can quickly become an overwhelming prospect. This can lead businesses to stall their projects or even over-automate, adding unnecessary complexity and cost.

Rather than taking a ‘rip and replace’ approach, companies must apply automation to the warehouse in a practical way. First off, this means focusing on the low-hanging fruit. These are the easiest or most impactful opportunities for automation to benefit the business when considering its unique objectives.

Identifying the quick wins 

Where do businesses find this low-hanging fruit? Any labour-intensive activities that entail repetitive physical work, manual data entry or analysis are a good place to start. For example, manually lifting and loading goods from the loading bay to the trailer can be easily automated – and doing so will make an instant and notable difference.

In this scenario, investing in an automated loading system provides an immediate opportunity to increase productivity, enhance worker safety, and reduce operating costs. Trailers can be loaded far more quickly and reliably, which eliminates costly HGV driver delays. Additionally, what were physically demanding man-hours can be spent elsewhere on more complex tasks and decision-making. Automation also reduces the possibility of human errors, giving the business more chance of satisfying the customer.

Understanding ROI

In difficult financial circumstances, such as the ones we find ourselves in now, businesses need to assess their spending carefully. Warehouse automation is a sizable initial investment. However, the advantages should always far exceed the costs – particularly when considering the long-term expense of inefficient operations.

Where an automated loading system is concerned, it is important to keep in mind that an investment normally leads to a return within three years.

Automation is not a silver bullet in the face of recession, but it will lead to a number of instant operational improvements. Significantly, it will also help future-proof the business against any other challenges around the corner due to the flexibility and agility it adds to operations.