Technology

Supply Chain Automation: The What, Why’s and How’s

a robot and a human connecting two jigsaw pieces

Supply Chain Automation has the power to change your operations, but it can be tricky to know where to start.

Some common questions we get asked:

  • How do you know which automation trends are here to stay?
  • How do you know it will help you generate ROI?
  • How to you justify the massive upfront investment?

All great questions - let's take a look...

First, let's look at supply chain automation in general -

Supply chain automation enables organisations, warehouses and systems to work with less human intervention using a set of predetermined decision criteria. This typically helps to boost operational efficiency overall reliability.

Types of Supply Chain Automation

Digital Automation:

Digital Automation uses data and software to decrease manual workflows. This includes Automatic Identification and Data Capture Technology (AIDC), such as mobile barcoding.

The down side? Digital Automation requires significant upfront investment, which means you're going to need to spend money on equipment, hardware, software, maintenance records. Not to mention the time (as well as resources) needed to implement frameworks and train staff.

But there are some really positive results to digital automation. For example, it integrates with your Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP), Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and mobile barcode scanning tools. These all help to enhance your supply chain operations and overall shipping experience.

Physical Automation:

Physical automation is the technology that reduces employee activity by building more efficient workflows in your warehouse operations.

Some key benefits of Physical Automation include:

  • Increased capacity and efficiency of the warehouse.
  • Enhanced reliability and scalability of warehouse services.
  • Improved overall performance.

Physical automation tends to be more suited for large-volume warehouses and shipping centres.


Advantages of Automating Supply Chain Processes:

Lower Operating Costs:

By implementing automation, various parts of your business benefit from reduced costs by: reducing floor space; increasing efficiency; introducing real time visibility (which enhances overall communication); and reducing labour costs.

Safety:

Automated process cells reduce potential hazards and provide safe enclosure to machines with the help of a safety guard.

Record Analysis:

Automation systems store product data, which means you can access real-time and Historical Data without much complexity.

Reduces Delivery Time:

Automation keeps up with internal interaction, improves process control and reduces delivery time.

It's Better for the Environment:

By reducing your physical footprint, waste and energy consumption, you create a more environmentally-friendly warehouse.


Limitations:

Technological Limits:

Current ongoing technology cannot automate all of your processes, including the production or manufacturing of products with inconsistent component sizes. Hence, some things are best left for human assembly and operations.

High Maintenance:

A skilled division will be frequently needed to support and maintain automation systems.

Mostly Good for High Volume:

Some tasks simply cost more to automate than they do to perform manually. Automation is best suited to repeatable, high-volume and consistent operations.


Warehouse Automation:

These days, most warehouses are technology-equipped. Warehouse Automation automates your inventory movements meaning minimal human assistance is required.


Need some help?

An efficient warehouse reduces risk, and makes your order fulfillment more accurate.

If you're struggling to identify which processes may benefit your warehouse, we can help. Technology is our middle name (why else do you think we capitilise the 'T'!).

We believe in providing expert solutions that mean you are always prepared, informed and operating efficiently.

Contact us today - admin@utenant.com.au

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