In an age of increasing automation, global distribution, and digital orders that can be processed at unprecedented speed, a growing number of distribution centers are working hard to keep pace with the trends taking place around them. They’re implementing automated systems and storage solutions that seem fit for the future, and they’re assuming that without these solutions in place, they’d lose a critical advantage and fall behind. But these moves aren’t appropriate for the needs of every company. And timing can also play a role in these decisions; your company may not be ready for certain forms of automation, and may actually not stand to benefit from them at all. Sometimes simple solutions are the best. Before you invest in rack storage or conveyor systems, ask yourself a few questions like the ones below.
Should you Keep It Simple?
1. What are your current per hour/day/year error rates, and how do these rates compare with industry averages? Do the rates of other providers shift dramatically before and after the implementation of new solutions, accounting for all other changes?
2. Are you making an effort to fix something that isn’t broken? Identify the core problem you’re attempting to solve with your new solution.
3. Does your product lose value or experience a shorter lifespan when it’s stored in pallets on the floor? What does your inventory cycle look like? Simple floor storage often works best for products that are ordered all year round but delivered seasonally. If your warehouse fills all year and then empties dramatically during a few hectic months, simple storage may be right for you.
4. What return are you currently seeing on your lifting and handling equipment? A few forklifts and the overhead necessary to maintain some open warehouse space may be all you need to rotate items in and out. If your investments rise, will your profits and productivity rise as well?
5. If your current simple solution isn’t working and isn’t enough to accommodate your shifting needs, how can you scale up slowly? Make sure your automation and inventory capabilities keep pace with your growing needs. Don’t invest in machinery that stands idle.
For more information on where to take your inventory management systems as your company grows, reach out to the forklift and materials handling experts at Liftow.