What to consider when implementing an automation system.

May 28, 2024

The integration of conveyor and automation systems should be considered as part of   your strategy for bolstering operational efficiency and meeting escalating consumer expectations. As an Operations Director, the decision to adopt such systems necessitates a holistic approach, encompassing various critical factors to ensure seamless implementation and optimal return on investment (ROI). Here is an expanded list of key considerations to guide you through this transformative process:

Conveyor system and racking
  1. Define your objectives

Define precise objectives aligned with your business goals, whether it is enhancing throughput, reducing labour costs, improving order accuracy, improved customer satisfaction through quicker, more accurate deliveries or perhaps achieving other operational milestones.

 

  1. Assessment of throughputs and capacities

Before starting the process of researching your new automation systems it is really important to conduct a thorough evaluation of your facility’s current and projected throughput requirements.

Pay particular attention to the intricacies of product flows as this will help your integrator determine the necessary capacity and speed of the conveyor system. This understanding ensures that the chosen system can efficiently handle the volume and velocity of products within your operation.

 

  1. Product diversity, handling, and adaptability

Analyse the range of SKUs at your facility, considering factors like size, weight, fragility, and packaging variations. Go for conveyor systems equipped with adaptable features that can accommodate a wide array of product types without compromising efficiency or safety.

It is worth considering future product lines or materials additions in the future, if known, as this will ensure that your integrator can help you future proof your system to allow for future products.

 

  1. Return on Investment (ROI)

Undertake a comprehensive ROI analysis to gauge the financial viability of implementing conveyor and automation systems. Evaluate not only upfront costs but also long-term savings, including reduced labour expenses, enhanced throughput, minimised errors, and potential revenue growth opportunities.

 

  1. Product identification, tracking, and traceability

Emphasise the importance of accurate product identification and tracking throughout the conveyor system. Implement robust barcode or RFID systems to enable seamless traceability, thereby optimising inventory management, order accuracy, and overall operational efficiency.

 

  1. Seamless integration with Warehouse Management Systems (WMS)

Ensure seamless integration between your conveyor & automation systems and existing WMS or ERP platforms. This integration fosters real-time data exchange, streamlined order processing, efficient inventory management, and dynamic material flow optimisation within the facility.

 

  1. Human-Machine collaboration and ergonomics

Deliberate on the interaction between humans and automated systems within your facility. Identify areas where human intervention is indispensable, such as packing, quality control, and exception handling. Design ergonomic workstations and conveyor layouts that prioritize safety, efficiency, and employee well-being.

 

  1. Strategic allocation of resources and end-of-line processes

Strategically allocate resources and optimise end-of-line processes to minimise bottlenecks and maximise throughput. By considering the size and location of efficient packing areas, equipped with automated labelling systems and ergonomic workstations, you can streamline order fulfilment while ensuring accuracy and customer satisfaction. Small modifications that are carefully considered can have a huge impact on the final outcome of your system.

 

  1. Continuous improvement and scalability

Embrace a culture of continuous improvement and scalability, wherein your conveyor and automation systems evolve in tandem with your operational requirements and technological advancements. It is a good idea to prioritise solutions that offer flexibility, scalability, and adaptability to future-proof your investment. CSL can advise on what this might look like as a phased approach.

 

  1. Budget allocation

Last but by no means least, allocate a realistic budget that encompasses not just initial costs, but also ongoing maintenance and potential scalability needs. It is common to look at an installation of an automation system with a view to completing it in stages. This can help with your overall budget and help you gain ‘proof of concept’ for the system It also means that you can scale up your business as it grows without a large initial outlay. However, if you decide to go for it all in one phase there are financing options available to help you with your cashflow and budgeting. See our recent blog here. Do not be afraid to brief your integrator with your budget, this will speed up the process of getting layouts and quotes produced.

By meticulously considering these aspects, Operational teams can navigate the complexities of implementing conveyor and automation systems with confidence, ultimately unlocking unprecedented levels of operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and competitive advantage in today’s dynamic business landscape. Speak to Conveyor Systems Ltd to see how we can help you bring your project to life. We have a wealth of experiencing in helping businesses implement automation systems of all shapes and sizes. Contact us on 01283 55 22 55, email sales@conveyorsystemsltd.co.uk or visit our website www.conveyorsystemsltd.co.uk

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