Getting Started with Mobile Automation
Mobile automation (MA) is exploding and it’s tempting to jump in and give it a try. But first, there are four chief hurdles to implementation that you need to address. Having the desire to add MA is one thing; not having a good grasp of how to go about it is another. Here are the four hurdles to MA:
Can it handle the complex operations in your distribution center?
The answer to this is more than likely, but that doesn’t give you a green light to proceed without laying some groundwork. To begin, think simple processes that might be easy to automate and not require much human intervention. Moving parts from point A to point B, for instance, is simple and straightforward and a place where robots might come in handy. Then get an early win proving your case before moving on to bigger, more complex processes. Your internal staff will better understand the role of mobile automation this way, too, making them more likely to sign on for more in the future.
Is the technology ready to fit your needs?
There are many new, innovative, modern technology tools available right now and it’s tempting to jump in. But a better move is to look at mobile automation as a base entry point—it’s stable and has been around for decades. However, in the last five to 10 years it has grown both in the number of players entering the field, and in the innovations that can accompany it. The lingo can be confusing, too: cloud computing, AI, industry 4.0, quick installs and more. Without the help of a qualified partner, it’s easy to get carried away and add technology to your mobile robotics that isn’t necessary or isn’t the right fit.
Is the business case there for mobile automation?
One way to look at this question is to ask what is the cost of not having MA? Labor shortages continue to plague the warehousing industry, so finding qualified labor on weekends or evenings is difficult. You might have a shiny new facility full of bells and whistles, but if you can’t staff it, you’ve got problems. This is where mobile automation can make great financial sense. New leasing options make it easier to test before buying, and in either case, you’ll likely find a payback from day one.
How do you get started?
The fourth hurdle is often the toughest one to scale, and where the most errors happen. Find a partner to help you navigate the journey. Together you can understand all your processes and what the opportunities are to optimize them. This is the prep work necessary before going forward and making sure you have the right partner for the job is just as essential as doing the assessments needed to justify mobile automation.
When it comes to launching mobile automation, managing these four hurdles will set you on a path for success.
For more information on Getting Started with Mobile Automation, listed to our podcast here:
To find out more about MHI’s MAG Industry Group: https://www.mhi.org/mag
To learn more about how mobile automation can benefit you: