Phasing Automation into your warehouse facility
Automation implementation into any organisation relies on a robust business process as much as it does the machinery itself. There are number of things to take into consideration such as investment, use of systems, business impact and ROI, which will have an impact across multiple departments.
Every business will have to identify the best route towards phasing in automation but the steps below provide a general overview that will required in most scenarios.
Examine the requirement
Some processes within the warehouse are more flexible and thus able to adapt to the arrival of automation than others. This mean investigating how much more of a benefit automation will add, not only to this part of the supply chain, but the impact of the stages before and after. Once you have been able to identify the need then you can begin to consider how workable it is in the warehouse.
Validate the selection
The vast majority of processes feature both transaction and decision making elements. Automation can be designed to quickly make a difference on the transactional end as they are mostly comprised of repetitive tasks. This is the area where much of the effort tasks place within the process which means most of – if not all – of it can be automated in one form or another.
Settle on a design model
Next you will need to select a design model that suits your requirements, which may entail redesigning the process to ensure you get the most out of the automated version. The automation plan should fit into the business structure while suiting the needs of the process itself.
The idea behind the implementation of automation is to ensure it enhances efficiency in both the area it is being introduced into, while providing additional benefits to the organisation as a whole. Finding the right individual model to suit the business is essential to that.
Developing the automation plan
To get a complete overview it is important to delve into the entire process to examine all the possible negative scenarios. For example, some processes require that the more time consuming elements are automated before incremental automation is then bolted on.
In many cases, it may not make sense to automate every scenario, but at least three-quarters, while the experts can then assess any exceptions. Consider how well the plan works and performs through each phase and move onto the next one.
Implement the pilot phase
Once the automation plan has been developed and is ready for implementation, a pilot project should be run for testing. This enables you to see how effective the performance levels are within a real-time environment. The results of the pilot project will enable you to make any required adjustments before any final changes are made.
The involvement of relevant stakeholders will enable everyone to understand the full plan and the next steps to be taken. There could be a difference between the test stage and the live environment, and sometimes training could be planned in line with the full roll out.
Roll out stage
Alongside the plan developed for automation, a training strategy should also be constructed. While it is important staff members are trained on the new processes, there should also be documentation available for ongoing support. Thought needs to be given to how staff will be restructured and other areas of the facility that can benefit from an increase or decrease in numbers.
Maintaining the automation
It is often overlooked that once installed the new processes need to be maintained to ensure you continue to reap the benefits of automation. It will also have an impact on other processes and systems and a robust plan should be in place to prepare for this. A change management plan requires the involvement of every stakeholder to ensure every area has been considered across the business.