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Making the Move to Material Handling Automation: 5 Lessons

Posted November 06, 2016 12:00 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: automation material handling

As we finalize our transition to an automated material handling system in our NJ headquarters, here are some of the lessons we learned in the process:

Use process optimization as a bridge to automation:

Over a period of a few years we evaluated our processes to see where we could make improvements prior to transitioning. We found we could more than double our picking efficiency by moving to a zone picking scheme with a second order consolidation process.

Don’t trust the architectural drawings:

Because we coordinated our implementation with the move to a new facility, we were developing plans for a facility that we had never occupied. The drawings for the building were helpful but we learned they weren’t precise enough to depend on. You have to actually measure distances rather than relying on drawings. This helped us avoid major problems during the deployment.

Expect the unexpected:

Nothing ever goes exactly as planned. We planned carefully and had few surprises, but once you get into a project you realize that there are always going to be things you didn’t plan for. Accounting for this can prevent delays.

Know your competencies:

We are an engineering company so we made the decision to manage a good deal of the system integration ourselves. For some parts we had to bring in outside expertise to fully leverage our capabilities. Companies that don’t have engineering as a core competency will have to rely more on outside resources for systems engineering.

Find the visionaries:

Collaboration is key. If you get lucky, you may find some visionaries within your personnel- the people who don’t just do the job they are told to do, but are always on the lookout for better ways to do their job. These visionaries can be extremely valuable during the planning phase.

Editor's Note: This is a sponsored post by Todd Radwell, Senior VP of Operations and Engineering for Radwell International.

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Re: Making the Move to Material Handling Automation: 5 Lessons

11/07/2016 2:47 PM

There are big risks when it comes to automation, and when dealing with experts, experts or not, you have to challenge their expertise.

I recall when this happened,

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