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4 Keys to Successful Implementation of Material Handling Technology

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4 Keys to Successful Implementation of Material Handling Technology

Warehouse operations are under more pressure than ever to reduce costs while speeding up. Thankfully, cutting-edge high-tech solutions like material handling systems can assist fulfillment and distribution centers in achieving these objectives.

According to Manufacturing Business Technology, the market for North American automated material handling equipment is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of more than 8% between 2017 and 2021 as warehouses increasingly adopt sophisticated management systems.

To successfully adopt new high-tech applications and equipment in a way that generates savings while enhancing efficiency, however, implementation is just half the battle, as every procurement manager is aware.

What do you need to understand about implementation as the head of sourcing for your warehouse operation to guarantee that your business will get the most out of new material handling systems and other technology and equipment?

4 Keys to Successful Implementation of Material Handling Technology

Discover the four keys you need to know by reading on.

1. Prioritize people

Even if a large portion of your material handling system is automated, there will still need to be a human operator or technology user to carry out the procedure. You must take that user's or operator's experiences into account while implementing new technology.

Assigning a leader to represent the operator's viewpoint is a smart idea when you're preparing to introduce new technologies. This team member has the ability to record how users currently interact with the workspace and audit how people utilize the technology to identify any necessary process adjustments or new training requirements.

Implementation of Material Handling Technology:

  • Are autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) something you're thinking about implementing in your warehouses?
  • You must make sure that operators are trained in the safe and efficient sharing of space with AGVs if you are and your operation also needs manually operated forklifts. 

2. Be aware of speed bumps

Regardless of how well you plan to integrate new technologies into your material handling system, problems will still occur. Establish who on your team will be in charge of handling implementation-related issues, undertake performance and safety audits, and ask users for feedback.

With this knowledge, you should make sure to anticipate issues and plan ahead to address them, as well as include time for troubleshooting in your implementation timetable. Bugs will only get worse if you don't adequately audit and fix them as you implement, which will reduce the savings and productivity improvements you planned to achieve.

Implementation of Material Handling Technology:

Although there will be an adjustment time, voice picking technology can help you become more productive, especially in fulfillment environments. Remember that in addition to reducing background noise, you'll also need to design the system to recognize the distinct accents and voices of your staff in order for the headsets they use to communicate to function properly.

3. Build It Up

Build up your implementation efforts from modest beginnings.

You may correct minor issues rather than major ones if you apply technology on one line before extending it throughout a full warehouse.

You'll be able to gauge the enhancements you may anticipate from a wider rollout as soon as you get more adept at using the technology. 

There are a few methods you can test out this material handling technology plan. As previously noted, you can begin with a single line, expand to an entire facility, and then deploy it in other places. If your goal is to automate multiple aspects of your material handling system, you can start by implementing the most straightforward automation solution that is currently possible before moving on to more complex ones.

Implementation of Material Handling Technology:

You could want to start with something very simple, like an automated document insertion system, if you're thinking about automating many areas of your fulfillment process. A system like this prints shipping labels and attaches them to parcels.

You can use the knowledge you gain from starting with just one piece of automation technology to develop procedures for tracking the efficacy of novel technology and troubleshooting technological problems. Your document insertion rollout can act as a model for upcoming technological advancements.

4. Make Your Processes Systematic

The foundation of a successful implementation is systematized processes. Scaling from one stage to the next will be simple if you have systemized processes. The knowledge of operators should be incorporated into all your defined processes. 

These standardized procedures ought to have strategies for resolving difficulties as they arise and for doing troubleshooting integrated into them. Remember to incorporate goals and performance benchmarks in your procedures that must be met before scaling up.

Implementation of Material Handling Technology:

Make sure your staffing partner shares your commitment to a systemized extension of material handling technologies as you move from one level to the next. Working with an on-site staffing partner can be beneficial. 

The management staff of the onsite partner can instruct contractors on how to use new technology. The hands-off attitude of other staffing models might not work if you're genuinely attempting to achieve results with new equipment or initiatives.

As a procurement specialist, you are aware that you must weigh the initial price of new technology against any prospective savings and the anticipated advantages it will bring. That equation can be swiftly upset without a solid implementation strategy.

If you're thinking about implementing new material handling technologies, make sure your implementation plan prioritizes your users and includes ways to address problems as they arise.

Early problem-solving should allow you to expand the use of the technology afterward.

Everything you do should be reliable and systematized.

There are five ways material handling machinery affects warehouse productivity.

Savings on warehouse expenses

Automation can be used by warehouses to increase operational effectiveness and save expenses. These could be lightweight material handling equipment, robotics, intelligent devices, automated guided vehicles, etc.

A warehouse facility should be aware of the various types of material handling equipment and develop a strategy for choosing and utilizing the best one to improve operations. The best system for reducing costs is one that aligns inputs and outputs.

Labor expenses account for around 65% of warehouse operational budgets, according to Inbound Logistics. The right material handling equipment will improve safety while lowering labor expenses and the associated costs of accidents at work.

Facilitates Streamlining of Warehousing Operations

The optimal material flow is achieved when a warehouse is organized. The information should ideally be accessible in the shortest amount of time with the fewest risks and mistakes. But how can someone accomplish this when they are dealing with so much information?

There are various methods that people might streamline their warehouse with automation and material handling equipment:

Simplify the procedure because it could take a while to locate what is needed on the shelf, identify it, and gather it. However, those jobs can be completed rapidly and precisely by robots.

Labeling correctly. It's crucial to mark all items inside a facility correctly. Products can be identified using bar code labeling. AMRs with bar code scanners can also find, recognize, and follow the movement of objects.

Keep track of the movement of materials since it is simpler to trace their movement when they are properly identified. Additionally, this will stop pointless motions.

Improves Warehouse Inventory Control

Receiving, storing, and tracking goods are all parts of managing warehouse inventory. Efficiency and expenses at a warehouse are influenced by how resources are managed. 

Here are some pointers to improve warehouse inventory management:

  • Systems for automated inventory
  • Conduct routine inventory control inspections
  • Forecast demand using
  • Employee training
  • Boosts workplace security

Bulky and heavy items are typically carried around a warehouse floor. Moving items without the proper tools can lead to worker injuries or material damage.

The average number of injuries per 100 full-time employees in the warehousing business was 4.8 in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By providing the right material handling equipment, warehouse floor accidents and injuries can be greatly reduced, improving safety.

Injury from heavy lifting may have a lifetime impact. As a result, managers must try to limit the amount of materials that employees handle by hand in order to prevent potential hand and back injuries.

Some substances, particularly chemicals, may be light but still pose a risk to people. Facilities for storing goods should offer the proper tools to minimize human contact with those things. For handling hazardous products, automated conveyor belts with integrated automation systems are the best option.

Equipment for material handling can also lessen damage to the facility's walls, floors, and other machinery and apparatus. If handled improperly, heavy and bulky materials can easily harm the floor or walls during transportation. The best tools should be available in warehouses to handle goods.

Encourage Staff Members

As previously said, using the proper material handling equipment on the factory or warehouse floor will help employees do their responsibilities more quickly and effectively, which may result in higher employee morale.

Additionally, by investing in material handling tools like AGVs, firms can hire fewer people with higher skill levels since they can pay more competitively and create a more appealing environment. Employers should provide a secure work environment where employees are adequately taught to use cutting-edge technology.

Technology in warehouses will enable employees to keep a precise and real-time digital inventory. Smart warehouses, where automation is smoothly incorporated into all warehousing activities, will be a thing of the future.

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