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18 July 2023
CM Industrial By CM Industrial

Overcoming Automation Roadblocks for Unprecedented Success.

Automation onboarding is one of the greatest steps for streamlined and more effective warehouses, yet we see a number of setbacks confronting companies from fully exploiting the benefits of automation in their operations. Investment in automation is being stifled, in part, by the considerable capital needed to get started, but there are also a number of other sequential risks roadblocking both vendors and suppliers.  

To learn more about where the industry is headed, I caught up with Jeff Christensen. Former VP of Product at Seegrid, he is now a principal product strategist offering technology product strategy, market positioning, automation domain expertise, business modelling, investment advising, and due diligence services for technology companies and investment firms.

We pinpointed four main sequential risks limiting investment and automation retention within warehouses. Understanding these current limitations is important to allowing warehouses to develop greater agency in navigating issues to automation, and start a discussion around holistic automation needs.

4 Main Sequential Risks

in Automation Onboarding.

Exploring the breadth of sequential risks facing those across the industry, we were able to unify automation onboarding struggles down to four main risks:

  1. Selection Risk: having too many options in the market can lead to buyer indecisiveness, leading them to stagnate in outdated modes of work instead of being able to progress with automation.
  2. Capital Risk: solutions are very expensive with a future ROI being speculative, meaning prospective clients are not confident enough in the offer to buy in.
  3. Operational Risk: uncertainty around the internal team’s capacity to operate new technology in order to realise speculative ROI. Concerns around additional training, cost, or time needed to actualise onboarding and ROI realisation.
  4. Adaptation Risk: questions around whether the technology in question will actually allow companies to measure the improvement in performance in relation to scaling automated operations, or distract from more effective efforts.

Unifying the vast number of roadblocks into one of these four risk pillars makes navigating challenges a possibility. From this basis, we can explore the correct routes to integrating useful and appropriate automation into a business's practice.

Automation Innovators Offering Setback Solutions.

Despite the current setbacks, there are a number of automation companies offering adaptive solutions to help vendors and suppliers navigate automation onboarding limitations with greater ease.

Using Vendors for Selection Risk.

With the abundance of options for end-users to pick from, it is easy to choose an automated solution which is not necessarily the most beneficial or effective for a company's operations. This is where vendors come in!

Vendors who can offer a consultative approach when recommending solutions will be able to mitigate the risk of selecting the wrong solution. It is important to understand the customer’s pain points and thoroughly analyse the value that can be added to said service, making sure to keep the end-user informed and educated. Not only will this help mitigate such risk, but will also improve the credibility of the vendor in a market where automated solutions still require a lot of knowledge prior to purchase.

Tackling Capital Risk: Formic.

Can risk instead be transferred to, and even managed by, the vendor? Capital is perhaps the trickiest risk to address, but Formic has showcased a very effective model - using its RaaS offering to serve as a framework for future use cases.

With a focus on capital risk solutions, Formic has developed financing vehicles in the form of RaaS or monthly subscription products to mitigate a higher capital outlay for one-off purchasing. Their impressive fleet of full-stack automation robotics is available at an hourly or monthly rate for specified output, taking the burden and risk away from manufacturers with zero upfront cost and immediate savings.

Operational Risk Solutions: inVia Robotics.

Using a similar subscription-based model, inVia Robotics uses a fleet of Automated Mobile Robots (AMR) and Warehouse Execution Software (WES) working on the basis of existing infrastructure with a short implementation time of only 1 to 2 months before becoming fully operational. With a 10x increased pick rate, 5x increase in productivity and full-service Robotics Operation Centre, inVia has developed a solution that offers reliable, cost-effective automation that mitigates operational risk concerns.  

More importantly, operational risk is mainly mitigated via knowledge and skill transfer from vendor to customer, meaning a customer is confident to effectively operate the automation once the vendor's installation team has left. This is where the RaaS model becomes a more intriguing option, with post-installation support and training on automation provided as a value-added service.

Adaptation Risk: RaaS.

The main point of focus here is questioning whether the solution enhances or hinders continuous improvement. Often an AGV or AMR solution sounds attractive but isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, there is a risk of being left with a high-cost product that is not serving its full potential, especially if the application was not properly analysed prior to installation.

It's possible to mitigate this, by explicitly designing solutions for change and lowering the skill requirement to operate said automation. But is this solution future-proof? Looking to RaaS is an example, which lowers the barrier to entry for automation on behalf of vendors by equipping them with enough knowledge to critically analyse solutions and if needed, access a financial vehicle to fund a solution.

Other Effective Solutions: 6 River Systems.

With a wealth of automation robotics providers available, concerns about finding automation technology that actually fits current and future requirements are expected. The team at 6 River Systems have developed automation solutions for any industry requirement, by combining systems-integrated software, AMR, and machine learning to navigate expansion. Identifying tried and tested automation solutions with the capacity for evolution is a necessary central focus.

Future-Proofing: Onboarding Automation.

If you’re sold on the benefits of automation but unsure of the right route for your team or business, or would like to explore how automation could support your business growth - we can help! Get in touch via LinkedIn, email, or hit the button below to speak to one of the team today.

Want to learn more about how we can help your business?

Get in touch today to book a free introductory call.

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CM Industrial


Overcoming Automation Roadblocks for Unprecedented Success.
18 July 2023
CM Industrial By CM Industrial

Overcoming Automation Roadblocks for Unprecedented Success.

With significant barriers to automation onboarding for warehouses across the industry, how can we navigate these challenges for better success? I spoke with Jeff Christensen to explore the trends and businesses to know right now.

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