What to Ask Before Investing in New Material Handling Processes
Whether you’re looking to make large leaps or incremental improvements to the operational effectiveness of your warehouse, your material handling processes are critical to creating a safe and effective work environment.
From dated workplaces to fully automated floors, automation through industrial manipulators makes a big impact on every work process. But before you invest in new technologies, we’ve prepared some questions that will help you explore the topic and make the right decisions for your business.
Do the Benefits Validate the Costs?
The benefits of investing in material handling equipment, such as industrial manipulators, conveyors, dock lifts and levelers, pallet positioners and scissor lifts, can make work easier and reduce the number of workers needed to perform a task.
In fact, the positive effects of automated processes will be different for each business, but a general summation includes:
Maximized inventory management
Improved customer service
Increased worker efficiency
Reduced injuries and strains
Improved overall safety
Before you identify which processes can be updated using automation, it’s important to determine if the update provides a competitive advantage worth the investment. The best way to figure out the value automation can provide is to perform a cost-benefit analysis.
Using a template such as this one, you can calculate a return on investment and get a visual of what your financial path towards material handling updating looks like. If you’re able to find an ideal solution, it’s not difficult to calculate how the efficiency of a productive multi-functional system returns on investment over time.
Understanding the true costs of each program area can feel overwhelming for anyone conducting this analysis for the first time. This process specifically guides leaders through six steps:
Determine purpose and scope
Gather financial data
Allocate direct costs
Allocate indirect costs
Check your data
Apply this knowledge
If your calculations reveal that investing in new material handling processes will provide opportunities, reduce costs or increase safety in ways that are valuable to your company, automating this process will likely be worth the investment. But let’s continue to explore your existing processes to determine is when is the right time to make a change.
Can Current Workflows Maintain Efficiency?
When industry 4.0 came along, it changed the way many organizations utilize manual labor.
The efficiency of any office or production operation depends on workflow. The better you define a regular process, the more efficient your team becomes. However, with rapidly advancing technology and business practices, no workflow can remain perfectly optimized.
To determine the lifespan of your processes, look at what you are currently doing with open eyes. Ask for feedback from existing staff about what frustrates them in the day and what works well. Inventory the entire office, from the filing system to the warehouse organization.
Each area has its own process or set of processes. As you gather information, create a file folder for each specific area of review. This will organize your data for the next step of the process: analyzing results.
Once you have collected data from your assessment, you can evaluate your work processes. Maybe employees say that the order process stalls because their computers freeze. Customers might complain about hold times on the phone. Your warehouse might be in disorder with frustrated staff always searching for things that aren’t properly stored.
Compare these daily operational costs to investing in new hardware. What is the break-even cost and time frame for an investment in a new process?
Have You Done Enough Research to Make a Decision?
To venture into automated material process handling can be daunting for newcomers.
Given the huge variety of techniques and equipment, both new and old, and material handling equipment manufacturers that exist in today’s marketplace, how confident are you in your organization’s ability to select an optimal solution?
This, of course, is not an easy question to answer. However, a little bit of knowledge and expertise on this topic can go a long way to improving safety, productivity and efficiency.
If you’ve answered the questions above and have found your processes can benefit from automation, view our product lineup.
However, if you’ve identified a profitable update to your processes and found that it’s a good time to make the investment for your company, you don’t have to complete this experience alone. At Dalmec, our team is experienced at working to identify the best equipment for your processes and designing customized machines that meet your needs.