When looking to solve a material handling challenge most companies tend to look within their own industry and their competitors for inspiration. There’s value in studying the competition to see what works and what doesn’t work.
It can also be useful to look outside of your own industry, especially when it comes to automation. By exposing yourself to some of the best automation solutions across a variety of industries, you can be inspired to create an innovative solution that might even give you a leg up on the competition. Here are a few different ways you can draw automation inspiration from outside of your industry.
Focus on what you have in common
What problem are you trying to solve? Do you have trouble keeping up with seasonal peaks? Are you struggling with labor shortages? Do you need better traceability? Do you need to improve speed of order fulfillment? By focusing on the core issue, you can look at other companies that have been able to solve the same problem. For example, Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe, Inc. faced major distribution challenges because of seasonal spikes. They conducted extensive market research and found one solution that stood out against the rest. Find out more.
Mingle with the experts
Connect with people who have helped other companies overcome similar challenges. There are professional associations that bring together automation and supply chain professionals, like MHI (Material Handling Institute). Getting involved with some of these professional groups gives you access to automation experts. Take advantage of that and learn as much as you can. An automation expert who has experience across multiple industries can offer insight and provide a totally different perspective.
Go see it
One of the best ways to get inspired is to get out of your current environment and experience a new one. Ask your automation supplier to show you active sites that are outside your industry. Actually, seeing different automation solutions in action might just spark a brilliant idea. Currently travel is challenging but you can always check out some videos for inspiration.
Author Derek Rickard