Top Warehouse Automation Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Top Warehouse Automation Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Warehouse automation is the process of automating the movement of products into, throughout, and out of a warehouse or Distribution Center.

When warehouse automation is properly implemented, a warehouse can eliminate many manual and labor-intensive  , helping your staff perform their duties more productively and safely, while also saving resources.

Common Warehouse Automation Challenges

Warehouse automation can offer numerous benefits, including increased efficiency, accuracy, and productivity. With this knowledge, there are also some common challenges that companies face when implementing warehouse automation.

High Implementation Cost

Warehouse automation can require a significant upfront investment, which may prove challenging for some companies. The cost of automation equipment, software, and installation can be substantial, and it may take some time to see a return on that investment.

Scalability

A company’s warehouse automation needs may change throughout its growth. Ensuring that your automation system can keep up is a challenging task, let alone scaling these automated systems to meet the market’s ever-changing demands. Because of this, companies may need to invest in additional automation equipment or modify their existing systems to accommodate changing needs.

automated assembly line

Reliability and Maintenance

Automated systems require regular maintenance to operate effectively. This can be a challenge for companies that do not have the necessary technical expertise in-house. Additionally, if problems arise, companies may need to rely on technical support from vendors, which can be costly and time-consuming.

System Integration

Implementing automation in a warehouse can be challenging because it often involves integrating new technology with existing systems. This can require changes to the warehouse’s IT infrastructure and business processes.

Lack of Expertise and Training

Warehouse automation technologies such as robotics, automated storage and retrieval systems, and conveyor systems require specialized knowledge and skills to install, operate, and maintain. If a company does not have employees with the necessary expertise, they may need to hire new employees, or contract with outside specialists to provide technical support.

 

How to Overcome These Automation Challenges

Man and woman thinking while looking at a lap top.

Seek Competitive and Tailored Solutions

Anytime a company decides to make a large investment, like incorporating automation into their DCs, they must seek competitive solutions. One possible solution would be to develop a comprehensive implementation plan which includes:  budgets, timelines, and possible contingency plans.

Implementation plans can ensure that the development process is not only well-managed and that any unexpected challenges can be properly addressed, but it will also ensure that the company does not exceed their pre-planned budget.

When your company’s distribution centers consciously adapt with automation in mind, there are improvements in efficiencies one can reasonably expect. When an implementation plan is followed, companies often see an increase in their analytical aptitudes which can improve resource usage and product distribution during fluctuations in the market. 

Provide Training for the New Automation System

Investing in employee training and education is essential to guarante  that a company’s employees have the necessary skills and knowledge to operate and maintain the new automated systems. These provided trainings will appear as classroom training, ongoing support from the installer, and hands-on experience.

Invest in Compatible Systems

Before a business decides to implement warehouse automation, they should conduct an analysis of their individual needs. In doing so, they will be able to identify the specific challenges and opportunities that automation can address.  This can help ensure that the chosen automation systems are aligned with the company’s goals

Plan for business growth

A distribution center must plan for scalability when choosing automation systems. This means that you should choose an automation system that can be easily modified or expanded as the company’s needs change. This can help assure that the automation investment remains relevant and valuable over time.

Schedule regular maintenance of automation equipment

Scheduling routine maintenance of automation equipment is critical for  that the owned equipment operates at maximum efficiency over the course of its lifetime. Automated systems rely on incredibly complex machinery, software, and hardware in order to function, and regular maintenance on those complexities is essential for preventing breakdowns, reducing downtime, and extending the lifespan of the equipment.

Successful Warehouse Automation Implementation

Despite the challenges that warehouse automation faces, , the benefits of implementing automation within distribution centers can increase a company’s efficiency, accuracy, cost savings, throughput, and scalability, all while reducing the time it takes to fulfill orders.

The advancements in technology have made it possible for warehouse automation systems to become more sophisticated and effective, providing significant benefits for warehouse operators.

With these benefits in mind, it is important to remember that your budget and timeline will be uniquely your own depending on your business’s needs. After your careful consideration, you      will want your business to have a tailored solution that matches those specific needs whether they be: goods to person systems, sortation equipment, or even software systems.