Robotics – The Buyer’s Journey, Part II
Robotics systems can be one of the most daunting investments you’ll make, and the buying journey includes critical steps to reach a successful integration. You’ll want to find the right partner with the right solutions to create a well-prepared contract—one who can understand your data and what it’s telling you. Your goal is to ensure a smooth automation integration, and you need to gather the necessary information before committing to purchase and install robotic automation equipment. Below are critical steps to review your operations, prepare a detailed proposal, and lead to your successful robotic system integration.
Once you’ve engaged with a robotics automation partner, you enter into the middle place where you and your potential partner engage in defining the vision and execution of what your operations will look like when you integrate automation. You will review your entire process, analyze Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), review bottlenecks and pain points, and ultimately identify where and what robotic solutions will elevate your operational throughput.
You will identify how many robots you need as part of the solution. You’ll create various solutions with an estimated idea of the “right” number of robots should be. Your partner will be building a solutions binder for you that eventually ends up as part of your contract.
Several stakeholders need to be part of the discovery process to identify and define your future robotics equipment. The operations floor staff is a critical audience for gathering accurate information and process intelligence. You and your potential partner should interview your pickers, for instance, to let them weigh in on their role and on how they envision robots working alongside them. Not only will you gather accurate information, but you will also gain an opportunity to demonstrate to these staff members that the robots won’t serve as their replacement but rather their partners, allowing them to easily up their productivity. The floor workers provide the most accurate means of doing the task at hand, as the team knows the ins and outs of execution and performance.
Other members of the staff that should be brought into the conversation are your supervisors. Like the pickers, they might be skeptical of robots, worrying the machines will decrease the value they bring to your operations. You can demonstrate to them that instead, they’ll be gaining a new skill set, one that is easily transferable down the road.
Your IT department will also have a critical role in the robotics journey. The robots will fall under the command of the WMS, so IT staff will need to make the back-end applications run smoothly.
Now that you have floor-level insights and department engagement, you will enter the phase of mapping out the deliverable robotic solutions, the timeline, and the delivery schedule. Do you want to go all-in from the start or gradually ramp up the role of robots in your operation? Typically, Distribution Centers will choose the latter scenario, adding a bit more volume to the robots’ workload each day. Eventually, the robots will work seamlessly on the floor amongst your staff.
All these engagement steps outline the ideal course of action as you define what a successful “go live” day should look like and how your integrated operations will appear. Finally, you’ll draw up a master agreement that will set the rules, requirements, and even pricing for future purchases with your partner. It is essential that this agreement includes the framework for ongoing support so that both parties know exactly how the relationship will move forward.
This is part two of four in the buyer’s journey series. Part 1: http://www.warehouseautomation.org/2021/12/30/avoid-pilot-purgatory-with-this-six-phase-process/
To find out more about The Robotics Group: https://www.mhi.org/robotics