Four things you need to know about automation in the supply chain

Four things you need to know about automation in the supply chain

How can I maximize my resources and make the supply chain a whole lot more efficient so I can get my products out to my clients faster?  That is a question that most, if not all companies, ask themselves on a daily basis.  They are always looking to improve the supply chain so that customers can be completely satisfied and revenue can increase.  To answer the question, some companies might decide on upgrading their system.  Others might go the way of using big data and analysis strategies to get the job done.  However, as of late, many companies have seen the solution to the question in the form of automation and robotics.  By making the supply chain automatic, companies are able to do things like never before.  Let David Kiger give his thoughts on how exactly.

From order to delivery in no time

Getting a shipment out to customers in the least amount of time is crucial to the success of a business.  In the past and in some cases in the present, companies depend on a computer to take an order, but a person is usually in charge of fetching the order from inventory and getting it ready to be shipped.  That process could take hours or days depending on the amount of orders that had to be delivered.  Advances in sensor technology have allowed robots to move around a warehouse, detect the product, grab it from inventory and ship it in a fraction of the time.  This has allowed companies to ensure that a product gets to customers faster which in turn means that more orders can be handled than ever before.

Drop in work related accidents

Image courtesy of Skitterphoto at

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of the use of robotics within the supply chain and logistics of a company is how it clearly helps reduce work related incidents.  Companies lose a lot of time and money whenever an employee has an accident, and not to mention all the legal implications that could derive from a mishap at work.  Whenever a robot is involved, chances for an accident involving people are practically zero.  Again, thanks to the advances in sensor technology and mobility, robots can move freely within a warehouse without there being anything to lament later on.

Up to the second inventory

Another pain in the butt for most companies is how they manage their inventory.  Automation allows companies to take the hassle out of the job.  Robots now come with the ability to be programmed to handle the stock of a warehouse so that as soon as inventory is moved, it can be updated almost to the second.  Having real time inventory management helps companies gather valuable information.  For example, they can see at what moments of the day inventory has more movement and which has less.  That way, they can know when to dedicate more machines to the warehouse and when to back off a little.  In the long run, the data collected from this process could help a company decide when they need to produce more and when they can ease up.

Decrease in cost, increase in investments

The final advantage of automation and robotics in the supply chain is the obvious reduction in costs.  Companies will definitely cut down on overtime hours, and they will no longer have to ask workers to spend more time in the company.  By cutting down operational costs, a company can use the extra money to invest in new equipment that will help make the supply chain process go over more smoothly or they can give their employees more benefits that will help them improve their quality of life.  Whatever the case, companies will have a little extra money in their cash flow.

Automation will be a deciding factor in helping companies improve their revenue.  It’s already happening and it will only increase in the near future.  There are those who will argue that using robots to replace people will only lead to unemployment.  What they don’t consider is that companies can move employees to another part of the company where they can feel happier and not like they are wasting the best years of their lives in a dead-end job.  

Robots are changing the way supply chain management and logistics are being handled.  They are providing companies with much more efficient means of delivering products to their customers.  Additionally, allow companies to work round the clock without having to spend funds to pay for overtime.  Finally, automation helps companies reduce work related incidents and legal issues if an employee has an accident at work.  Automation and the use of robots in logistics and supply chain management is the future and companies would be wise to fully embrace that fact and learn from those who have already seen the benefits of having an automated supply chain.  

* Featured Image courtesy of Jim Trottier at

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