Supply chain automation is all the rage these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for every warehouse. Know what you’re getting into by reviewing the pros and cons to see how they relate to your business.
Pro: Increased Worker Safety
One of the best things about warehouse automation is the load it takes off of your staff. This is especially true when it comes to worker safety, as fewer human errors lead to fewer risks being taken. In one fell swoop, you can reduce your business’ liability and make more time for safety systems training, leading to huge gains for a safe working environment.
Con: More Training Necessary
You’ll notice we already mentioned safety systems training even in our previous pro. Why? Because systems are much more complex when you include automation in the warehouse, which means they’re going to require a more knowledgeable workforce. This also means additional training when you hire experienced workers as well. Supply chain automation looks different from warehouse to warehouse. So, there’s no sure thing to hire an employee with, say, forklift training.
Pro: Real-Time Distribution Updates
To keep a just in time supply chain up and moving, you need access to immediate, detailed information to aid in decision making. Automated warehouses provide more of this than ever before. That way, you can look forward to supply chain transparency all through distribution, but you’ll also have access to real time activity in the warehouse, climate monitoring, and more.
Con: High Cost of Entry
There are many aspects of warehouse automation that can save you money in the long run. But in the beginning, you’ll be digging a good-size hole for yourself. Automation technology does not come cheap, and the most advanced systems will have moving parts that need repaired and replaced periodically. You can, however, reduce this burden by working with a third party logistics provider. That way, their costs can be spread out to serve many businesses like your own.
Pro: Fewer Human Errors
To err is human, which is why it can be great to have more computers running your warehouse. You can use a Datex warehouse management system to keep track of your freight and automatically reorder when your backstock is low. An RF scanner will automatically update the WMS. And climate monitoring systems will maintain temperature controls and notify workers if they fall outside the target temperature rather than requiring regular checks by an associate. This is especially great in that most work requires fewer workers, which can help alleviate the supply chain labor shortage.
Con: More Tech Upkeep
So, automation technology isn’t human, but it is built by them, and it’s going to fail you somewhere along the line. Having an automated warehouse requires a more robust supply chain contingency plan for when things fall apart, and that can mean having a more diverse maintenance staff with your tech in mind. But those jobs are just one more way that we can promote lifelong supply chain careers.
Pro: Greater Freight Security
One of the greatest threats to shrinkage in the supply chain is theft, so it can make a huge difference to invest in more advanced security features. For MWCold, this means our CCTV automated security cameras that can notify security personnel of unexpected movement in real time. But the security of your business matters as well, which is why we use EDI systems to send secure communications between clients and carriers.
Con: Requires Additional Security
We heard you like security. So, we thought we’d get you some security for your security. Really, though. Digital locks can be broken just like their physical counterparts. So, it doesn’t do well to invest in an automated freight security system without having an IT support specialist to maintain and improve upon it. Don’t get caught short without this necessary component to keeping your warehouse safe.
Many warehousing services today include supply chain automation. But these decisions have inherent drawbacks, and you have to weigh which are most important for your company. If you’d like to learn more about what you can do to mitigate supply chain risk and evaluate whether automation is the right choice for you, reach out to our team of experts.