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4 Things to Consider When Automating Your Warehouse

Forklift truck in Warehouse

Are the majority of processes in your warehouse still paper-based?  If so, chances are you are working on finding the right time and right way to integrate automation into your warehouse.  It’s not as difficult or costly as it may seem, and the truth is the faster you begin incorporating barcode automation into your daily processes, the shorter your return on investment.  Here are 4 things to think about as you begin to plan your strategy:

  1. What kind of budget are you allocating?

As with any project, budget is the primary driver of the strategy.  The tricky part is knowing exactly what the equipment, software and expertise will cost based on your requirements.  The first step is to consult with a solution provider who can evaluate the processes that you are interested in automating.  Based on the type of processes you’re interested in automating (i.e., inventory management, shipping, receiving, asset tracking, etc.) an expert can conduct a site assessment with specific focus on these workflows.  Understanding what your pain points are and the types of improvements you’d like to see for each application, a solution provider can provide valuable insight and recommendations to help formulate a budgetary plan.

  1. What types of changes would you like to see in your warehouse?

Workflow automation can bring big benefits to your organization.  Cost savings is the number one benefit, with worker productivity and labor savings being extremely valuable to the bottom line in a short period of time.  Faster processes, fewer errors, and ability to access information in real-time helps drive greater profitability.  Additionally, improving the inventory management process will have a major impact on your cost savings, with most customers realizing gains in the tens-of-thousands over a one-year period strictly due to improved accountability on inventory that typically gets lost or misplaced onsite when items are not barcoded. 

Depending on your particular goals, there are any number of choices when it comes to the technology you can use that will be best suited to each application.  For example, some organizations count on RFID  to help them reduce theft, eliminate stress on workers and automatically track the movement of goods throughout the warehouse.  For others, barcoding technology is an extremely effective way to speed up the picking and packing process by reducing data entry errors and eliminating numerous time-consuming manual efforts.

  1. What are your software requirements?

If you’re using an ERP system now to perform warehouse operations, then integration with other software applications will be a key consideration. Custom applications may also be necessary based on the flexibility of your existing ERP and any other software programs being used throughout your warehouse on desktop computers, laptops and even handheld devices like tablets and mobile computers.  Partnering with a solution provider with in-house capabilities means they have the flexibility to accommodate the current and future needs of your business.

  1. What are your plans for future growth?

Although you are planning these improvements to make changes to current processes, it’s also important to consider what your future plans are and what your business will look like in the next 5 years. 

  1. Will you be adding square footage to your existing space?
  2. Do you plan to open additional offices in other locations?
  3. Are you planning headcount additions?
  4. Is there a plan in place to expand your product line?

These are just a few of the considerations to make as you develop your operational plan. Critical components like wireless connectivity and remote location operations are important to include so an infrastructure can be put in place to accommodate those needs.

Get started with an on-site evaluation

If you’re looking for some expertise to get you started, you’re in the right place.  Our specialists can help.  Contact us today and we’ll help you build a solid plan for the future of your business.