Logistics is a cost for all businesses and with evolving commercial and consumer pressures on virtually every market sector, more and more companies are considering investing in automated materials handling and distribution systems.
No longer seen as a drain on resources, improving the way you handle, store and move your goods is now recognised as a way to add value to a business.
Main drivers for switching to automated facilities are the need to consolidate, cut costs, expand, relocate and boost customer service levels. Other influences include labour shortages, space restrictions and the spiralling costs of warehousing and land.
Today’s sophisticated materials handling solutions and information technology systems provide valuable cost savings, ensuring a quick return on investment.
But in deciding to make the investment in an automated system a company must consider how best to implement and handle the project.
Trying to manage different groups of people, each with their own cultures and objectives, frequently ends in disappointment, with missed deadlines, budget overspends and failure to deliver promised operating benefits.
To avoid these pitfalls, companies frequently choose to appoint project integrators. This can be a consultant or a major supplier of the core products and services.
The right integrator will have to demonstrate it possesses all the necessary expertise and resources in terms of people, finance and back-up systems and controls.
These companies should provide a cradle to grave approach, handling all aspects of planning, delivery and commissioning. The integrator should be present throughout the project cycle and be able to provide service and support for the lifetime of the installation.
Today, with growing numbers of international logistics networks and global brands, there are major benefits to be achieved working with an integrator offering international expertise and resources.
Nigel Algar is European sales and marketing director for the warehouse and distribution division of FKI Logistex