There are countless headlines right now stating that distribution chaos created by Covid-19 are forcing companies to speed up their adoption of automation in order to keep up with consumer demands and to counter the effects of labor shortages.
In fact, in our previous blog post, “Futureproofing your business through risk management” we talk about the benefits of automating to mitigate the risks associated with the crisis we are currently experiencing. It’s easy enough to say that a business should automate in order to futureproof against risks but not all businesses have the know how or the means to act quickly.
So how to get started?
Creating an automated solution that suits your business normally takes a great deal of expertise, analysis and extensive planning. Oftentimes the approach to automation is slow and methodical. A great deal of effort is spent analyzing data and trying to predict the future of your business in order to create the perfect solution for years to come.
But what if time isn’t on your side? In order to speed things up there may need to be a different strategy for the way you choose to automate.
Here are a few ways you could shorten the process
1. Stay focused
The quickest way to streamline a project is to focus on automating a process with the highest potential of success and impact and provides the most return on your investment. In order to implement a project faster ask:
- Do I have the funding in place?
- Will leadership approve the project quickly?
- Does the automation meet my current business needs?
2. Keep everyone in the loop
You’ve been tasked with finding an automation solution, you’ve done your research, talked to the specialists and you’re ready to move forward with a project. There’s only one problem. You’ve not shared all the information with key people in the organization and now the project is on hold while everyone gets up to speed.
If you need to move quickly and get approval for an automation project then it’s important to keep everyone in the loop and share key details with the decision makers along the way. Detail the timelines and deadlines so everyone has realistic expectations and all parties can work together to implement automation quickly and efficiently.
3. Try a new approach
If we’ve learned anything from Covid-19 it’s that there is no such thing as business as usual and the future will be very challenging to predict. Trying to build a solution that perfectly fits your plans for 5 years down the road will be a huge challenge and will definitely slow down the design process. It may be necessary to set aside the idea of creating the “perfect” solution for the future and instead look for automation that has the flexibility to solve the current challenges which can be easily modified for the future. This will allow you to sift through current data parameters quicker and take the guess work out of the equation, shortening the lead time for development.
4. Look for a standardized solution
Every business is unique and the way products are stored, picked, packed and shipped differs depending on the size and number of SKUs. Because of this, oftentimes automation must be tailored to meet customer requirements. Whenever large customization is required you can expect longer engineering and software time to execute the project. When looking to fast-track a project you should consider what standardized solutions are being offered and how you could fit that into your existing distribution center. Standardized equipment, or a modular solution allows you to create a cell of automation that can easily be repeatable to grow as your business grows.
A great example of this would be the automation for Mercadona, one of Spain’s leading grocery retailers. Mercadona worked closely with the Cimcorp team to develop a solution that will be repeated in four of their distribution centres.
So back to the question, can you fast track your automation project? In all honesty, it’s not a simple process and there are a lot of factors that dictate just how fast you can move forward. Cimcorp will work aggressively to try and meet your needs but ultimately, the speed of execution is dependent on all parties working together, having clear objectives, keeping lines of communication open having access to all the data.
Depending on the size of your project it’s important to recognize that fast-tracking may not be an easy endeavor. Normally the development process looks to provide a solid solution that meets your business needs long-term. When attempting to fast-track, you’re now looking for immediate solutions in the short term. To be agile you need a broader approach to the solution and not get too hung up on the unpredictable future.
If you need to act fast and implement something quickly, then you will need to reach out to an automation specialist ASAP. You want what’s best for your business and the planning up front is crucial to the success of your project.
Author Derek Rickard