What to Ask Yourself Before Investing in Industrial Manipulators

In the past, we’ve discussed how industrial manipulators can significantly impact your warehouse’s efficiency, safety and bottom line and how they can help manufacturing companies across industries.

But deciding whether to implement material handling equipment is no small decision. It requires research about your financial stipulations, current and future handling needs and what it would take to see returns on your investment.

Questions you need to ask before adding material handlers go beyond “What type of handler is right for me?” (although we can help with that as well!)

Let’s cover the topics you should explore before investing in industrial manipulators.

Are There Signs You Need a Material Handler?

Your first question should be why you’re considering a material handler. What inciting incidents have led you to consider adding industrial manipulators? While your reasons may be unique to your business, there are five major, overarching signs that you could likely benefit from industrial manipulators, such as:

  • Your productivity is on a downward trend.
  • You need to increase your employee safety standards.
  • You require more hygienic devices for at-risk materials like food and pharmaceuticals.
  • You’re looking to save money.
  • You require a customized handler for specific functions.

If you relate to any of these significant signs, it’s time to explore the positive impact industrial manipulators could have in your facility.

If you have additional questions, you can learn more about the signs of needing a material handler here.

What Does The Cost-Benefit Analysis Say?

Again and again, industrial manipulators prove themselves a beneficial addition to facilities, especially when cutting costs.

Material handlers are designed to take on repetitive, physically exhausting tasks that your plant employees would otherwise have to perform by hand. This increases the likelihood of injuries or employee burnout. A surplus of injured employees missing work or team members working slower due to highly physical tasks means your plant will see a downturn in productivity and experience more expensive downtime.

Well-made industrial manipulators can take the pressure off your team members, allowing them to perform their tasks more efficiently and improve productivity over time. And high-quality machines can be durable, reliable additions to your plant, meaning less time and money needed for repairs in the future.

That said, looking at the benefits of industrial manipulators specifically for your company is essential, which means completing a cost-benefit analysis.

CBAs can be simplified using templates like this one. These can help you calculate your potential return on investment, giving insight into your financial path as you transition to industrial manipulators.

Your CBA should always answer a question. In this case, it’s likely “Is it financially beneficial to invest in industrial manipulators?” Once you have your question, you’ll follow a few steps:

  1. Determine why you’re investing in industrial manipulators and the potential scope: Are you looking to boost efficiency? Modify a particular process? Do you need handlers for one plant or multiple for different locations?
  2. Gather financial data: Defining your budget before purchasing major equipment is vital. For material handlers specifically, you should also consider finances for potential upgrades or repairs down the line.
  3. Allocate direct and indirect costs: How will these affect your purchasing and future upkeep budgets? This can also include intangible expenses and potential risks.
  4. Designate direct and indirect benefits: Benefits to which you can either assign or not quite assign a financial value.
  5. Analyze the cost vs. benefits of the data you’ve compiled: Asana has a helpful breakdown of the different financial data points to review once you’ve gathered this information, including total costs, net cost-benefits and more.

Are Your Current Processes Prepared for a Change?

The last three years have forced manufacturers to completely reassess their operational methods and efficiency – which is likely why you’re considering industrial manipulators.

While we know the positive gains material handlers can offer, ensuring your facilities and processes are prepared for new machinery is essential. Take a closer look at your methods and ask yourself: Is this challenge something that can be improved with new technology or one that can be addressed internally?

Here are a few areas to start reviewing first:

  • Assess your facility layout and how your employees move throughout your space: While helpful, industrial manipulators require dedicated space to achieve their potential. Without it, your investment won’t be as advantageous. And they will only be as beneficial if they have that space. Are your employees consistently hitting bottlenecks? Is there inventory that needs to be stored better or other obstacles getting in the way of your employees as they work? These are issues that should be handled before investing in material handlers.
  • Analyze your current picking process: Are there issues with your current picking strategy? If so, that’s something to discuss with your employees first. Will adding material handlers simplify or complicate their tasks as they pick products?
  • Decide if your current storage system is helping or hurting you: If your storage is ineffective, your inventory or other tools are likely getting in your employees’ way and, inevitably, that of your industrial manipulators.

We always want our clients to find a long-term material handling solution that will benefit them. To ensure it’s a good fit, assess your current operations to make certain your facilities and processes are prepared for this change.

What Research Have You Done?

With so many options on the market, it can be daunting to jump into researching the right manipulator style and equipment for your business.

For first-timers, we’ve put together a free Buyer’s Guide to help you begin to navigate the process. But let’s cover a few main points – start by asking yourself these defining questions:

  • What type(s) of materials are you dealing with? Choosing a suitable device depends on your industry and what materials and products you’ll be working with.
  • What unique requirements does your inventory have? Are they perishable, or do they contain chemicals? Do they have specific hygienic requirements? For example, if you need your handling equipment for food or pharmaceuticals, you’ll want to look specifically at hygienic stainless steel.
  • What are your products’ defining features? You should have details about your items’ weight, size and shape that need to be moved.
  • What is the movement trajectory you need the machine to perform? This can help you decide if you need a static or portable manipulator.
  • How are they packaged, processed or stored? Will you need to move spools? Pallets? Drums?

From there, you can continue to specify what you need in a handler by defining space, cost and handling needs. We have a more detailed breakdown of this process for your convenience here.

What Could You Gain?

These tough questions are vital to making the right choice for your business and will help you confidently move forward in your purchasing process.

You’ll know:

  • Your CBA says you’re prepared for the investment.
  • Your operational methods are ready for the change.
  • You’ve done the research necessary to choose the right handlers.

If you’re ready to find your ideal machine, we’re here to help. At Dalmec, our team is experienced in identifying the best equipment for your processes and designing customized devices that meet your needs.

To learn more about which material handling products can help improve workflows at your organization, contact us to get in touch with one of our experts.

Interested in a resource to help navigate your first-time purchase of an industrial manipulator?


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