Seth Patin, CEO of Accelogix, explains why we need a better warehouse automation paradigm that allows companies to automate people and product movements on a flexible software-defined platform rather than a traditional fixed one.
By: Seth Patin, Founder & CEO at Accelogix
Warehouse automation as we know it is a walking zombie – an aging paradigm of the initial shift from pallet to case and each based product movements. The rollers are still turning and the trays are still tilting, but companies everywhere are being faced with a stark reality; customers are rapidly changing their behaviors and all the steel bolted to the floor cannot change with them. Worse yet, in many cases it hasn’t even paid for itself yet.
If your company can afford to just build a new warehouse with more expensive automation systems, you are in the minority. If not, now what? What if, for example, you are a rapidly growing apparel brand that can ill afford to spend capital in the warehouse when you could instead spend it on brand development? What about third-party logistics providers who work on a three to seven year contract cycle where 10+ year ROIs are a non-starter?
Warehouse automation as we know it is an aging paradigm of the initial shift from pallet/case to each-based product movements. Customers are rapidly changing their behaviors and all the steel bolted to the floor cannot change with them.
The paradigm shift from capital-intensive fixed automation to dynamic, pay-as-you-go automation represents a generational shift to software-defined automation solutions.
It’s time to rethink the meaning and purpose of automation. We spend millions of dollars to build expensive high-volume fixed paths defined by bolts in the floor with enough capacity to handle projected Black Friday volumes 10 years into the future. We all have a gut-feel, however, that the only thing we know for sure about those capacity engineering studies and volume projections is that they are best-case numbers and they seldom pan out as planned. But…the cost and ROI projections to justify that cost are based on those best-case numbers because you certainly won’t plan to not meet your plan.
But what if the plan must change? And what if you don’t want it to cost a fortune to react to that change? We need a better warehouse automation paradigm: One that allows companies to automate people and product movements on a flexible software-defined platform rather than a fixed one. Modern technology now allows us to do just that.
Connected Workforce Software automates human behavior in a way that wasn’t possible 10 years ago and autonomous mobile robots take AI-learned, low-cost, dynamic movement paths, all in a pay-for-what-you-use model. This paradigm shift from capital-intensive fixed paths with 10 year ROI to AI-learned dynamic paths that are paid for as they are used represents a generational shift to software-defined automation solutions. Companies can scale automation by adding more people and/or robots into the operation as demand grows, and, perhaps more importantly, scale back inexpensively by removing people and/or robots when the numbers don’t hit projections. This flexibility serves to drive economically sustainable distribution and enable more companies to afford the advantages of automation.
Long Live Automation!
Interested in learning more about flexible automation and connected worker technology? Click here to learn about the LogistiVIEW automation platform or contact us today to speak with our experts to find out how we can help you automate your warehouse processes.
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