Revealing the Hidden Advantages and Lesser-Known Facts About Automation
Q: How has the changing e-commerce landscape affected demand for customized automation?
A: Many have seen firsthand the effects of widespread e-commerce growth, and companies continue to find increased volume across the board. While the rate of growth is slowing from 2020—sales are forecasted to globally top $6 trillion in 2023.
The pandemic, of course, was a game changer. Prior to that we were seeing significant, but mostly steady, annual volume increases. The pandemic hit like an earthquake. What had been on wish lists became urgently necessary. In the aftermath of the pandemic, the demand for automation remains high along with the expectation of high-level customer service and fast shipping to end users.
Q: What are some misconceptions about automation solutions that you would like to dispel?
A: Automation should not make things more complicated. High-tech solutions that include automation often have the perception of being unnecessarily complex—however utilizing it is more streamlined than completing the job by hand.
Similarly, automation implementation is seen as a large hurdle. This process can be simplified by applying new technology in steps. Companies should spend time observing their current flow and analyze their potential slow spots, installing solutions where needed most and not all at once.
Done right, automation simplifies by eliminating rote, boring tasks and removes bottlenecks in parcel processing.
Q: What are some advantages of parcel handling automation that are less widely known?
A: A commonly known advantage is that with parcel handling automation you rely less on manual labor to accomplish tasks—which is becoming increasingly relevant to many businesses. Less widely known is how automation solutions reduce human error, as repetitive tasks are reduced or removed by implementing the automation solution.
If you’re sorting packages to a carrier, for example, and an operator throws a package into your UPS gaylord versus the Postal Service, you have a problem—a very angry customer. Ideally, automation removes the need to halt or recheck packages as sorting errors are less likely to occur, which helps save time and increase a facility’s overall efficiency. Human error can be a hard metric to track, but the advantages and reduced headache are quite valuable.
Q: How does automation address the labor shortage?
A: Automated equipment reduces your staffing needs by removing touchpoints to create a more efficient system and offers increased productivity with less workers necessary. Automation also provides solutions that help your staff handle the physical demands of the job, reducing wear and tear, and lowering staff turnover rates.
Look for solutions that offer a streamlined user experience, making it easier to train new employees when turnover does happen. Creating a space for automation can give additional opportunities to reduce downtime, gather data, create future growth, and expand capacities.