Affordable Automation Insights: Orchestration is the smarter way for shippers to conduct business
With labor shortages ever prevalent, plus operating and energy costs continuing to spiral, companies are increasingly going digital to boost ecommerce and B2B productivity.
Savvy shippers are automating their intralogistics to deliver an enhanced customer experience and secure competitive advantage, while streamlining the business and making warehouse operations as profitable as possible.
But this all needs to be technology-driven to stack up and work properly. With robotic and automated tools now more scalable and flexible than ever, modular solutions can help meet future expansion and mitigate any worrying investment risk.
That’s if everything is connected and integrated – and where multi-agent orchestration (especially a device and technology agnostic solution bringing a more uniform approach) is taking off.
Why? Because it’s all about providing easy implementation, speed-to-value, and no major software upheavals.
Shippers now have the freedom to choose the technology that suits their needs and control all automation and robotic resources within the warehouse environment from one centralized and convenient platform. This also enables them to automate operations on a much shorter timeline.
Multi-agent orchestration software is the missing piece in warehouse automation because it can interpret all the bi-directional messages back and forth between these resources and a robust Tier 1 WMS, so the most efficient decisions can be made automatically. Equally, if one type of device stops working, it will switch it over to the best alternative quickly and in real-time.
Agile and flexible cloud software also accelerates integration and enables shippers to choose automation and robotic devices that best fit specific operational requirements. This future-proofs the needs of the business and its workforce when compared to single point integrations that prolong onboarding time, slow growth, and often operate within ineffective and separate silos.
Targeted automation roadmap
It also provides them with a faster and targeted roadmap and doesn’t lock them into one type of approach or pathway.
There are a lot of new products and systems out there, but handling the ongoing integration and communication between them is critical, as is knowing what to put in place for the long term.
It’s vital, therefore, that shippers are thoughtful about the approach they will take when making the switch to automation, fully understanding their operation and associated pain points. They need to be aware of vendor and WMS flexibility and configurability, plus consider how automation might work with existing product sizes and profiles.
More specifically, does the solution orchestrate the prioritization of work, automatically allocate tasks and workflows, evaluate which devices best match specific operations, and enable data capture to assess the value each device yields?
Low total cost of ownership
Does it also manage exceptions without downtime and deliver low total cost of ownership and rapid time to value – connecting seamlessly to all types of devices, including RF, AMRs, conveyors, palletizers, putwalls, ASRS, etc, plus in any transport method?
Such an approach would really favor mixed portfolio shippers utilizing both AMRs and other autonomous/manual systems, but only if it can work hand in hand with the WMS, OMS or ecommerce front end system – both in the cloud or locally.
There seems little doubt that automation is the immediate future and the smartest operators will maximize their investment by only selecting technology that has the capacity to scale, flex, grow, and adapt – across multiple vendors and providers – with their specific and evolving business requirements in mind.
However, as businesses adopt new technologies and automation to mitigate labor challenges and make warehouses more efficient and productive, the ability to rapidly integrate and operate these investments is critical.
It should be a holistic and high value multi-agent orchestration solution that can be deployed quickly, cost effectively, and with minimum disruption. Providing 24/7 visibility from one centralized system removes barriers to entry and offers a more accessible and lower cost footing for shippers in the burgeoning robotics market and automation space.