Jim Lawton offers advice to where to begin for anyone starting with robotics automation
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Start With a Workflow That Needs Improvement, and Build Out From There
Today, the question is not whether to automate but where and how to get started. With all the flavors of automation on the market today, choosing the right path forward can feel overwhelming. In fact, while more than 80% of decision-makers who participated in the 2022 Zebra Global Warehousing Vision Study said they plan to rely more on automation in the future, 61% said they do not know where to start.
My advice is simple. Start small. You don’t need to make huge, sweeping changes, and in my experience, companies who try to go big get tripped up pretty quickly. Pick a workflow where you know robotics automation can add value, get that up and running and then expand from there. A great place to start is is to look for and start with the non-value add tasks that people are being asked to do. In the warehouse, for example, unloading inbound inventory to walking miles between aisles and zones to find, pick and pack orders to hauling recycling out – all of these are tasks that robots are much better suited to handle. When people are relieved of material movement tasks, wasted time, energy and talent are eliminated and productivity and efficiency climb. The beauty of collaborative robots like AMRs is that they can be programmed and put to work in a very short period of times – a day or two. When you see how quickly the robots can be put to work effectively, you’ll recognize and be ready to move on to more opportunities. And the value builds as you expand the applications to new and more complex workflows.