Surviving or Thriving? It starts with your first form of Automation, Warehouse Management

This article first appeared in Logistics Viewpoints, in May 2022. Author: Jeremy Hudson

“As anyone who’s experienced a change in supply chain technology over the past five – to – ten years can attest, we’ve come a long way, baby.”

“Artificial intelligence, neural networks, machine learning, robotics, mobile apps, big data, the cloud, and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). All have reshaped the way goods travel from dock to doorstep, especially in today’s hyperactive, direct-to-consumer, e-commerce environment. Since 2020 alone, changing customer demands, port delays, labor shortages, supply shortages, and evolving government regulation have all contributed to the industry’s technology arms race, causing many hesitant players to jump on the technology bandwagon – in a hurry.”

Where’s Your Best Starting Point?

“To decide which is best for you, take a close look at your business model and determine what option – or combination of options – best accommodates your operating strategy, technology stack, and budget. On-premise is usually best for heavily customized operations backed by the wherewithal to carry the overhead. SaaS, however, will only accommodate a standardized program, but the cost-efficiency and thin staff profile make up the difference.”

So, How Does Automation Fit In?

“Generally, automation, especially robots, make the greatest difference wherever human travel can be reduced, safety is a concern, or repetitious tasks and rote calculations are required. If you spot an opportunity like this, resist going all in. Remember the “one robot to one human” correlation. Talk to your people to get their input and buy-in first. Explain what you’re trying to accomplish and then make sure your WMS can communicate with the necessary automation equipment before you rent or buy “only one unit” to start.”

The Difference Between Surviving and Thriving

Surviving Thriving
“We pick, pack and ship orders using our promised deliver date as our indication of daily workload.” “We leverage technology to beat consumer expectations and provide real time updates of shipping and fulfillment progress.”
“Staffing is a daily challenge, but we piece together enough resources to accomplish the job.” “We use technology to make our workforce’s jobs easier and less strenuous.  Our employees are safer and happier.”
“Our technology team is stressed and is struggling to keep up.  We put in tickets and then escalate regularly.” “Our SaaS solutions provide us with guaranteed Service Level Agreements (SLA) to take the stress of IT and provide a dependable solution.”
“Our software version is out of date and upgrading would be a major expenditure at this point.  I guess we’ll stick with the version we’re on.” “Our SaaS solution is upgraded annually and allows us to take advantage of the most recent fixes and capabilities of the software.”


Smooth out your operations with warehouse management software. Contact Open Sky Group today.