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Spending “Smart Money” on Warehouse Automation Projects

By Ian Hobkirk | 10/30/2019 | 7:01 AM

Most companies that have attempted to implement automated materials handling equipment have discovered that these projects can be particularly vulnerable to Murphy’s Law, the principal that, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” This blog is tenth in an ongoing series on “Beating Murphy’s Law in Warehouse Automation Projects.”

DC Blog 10While Murphy’s Curve cannot be entirely eliminated, having the “right” design to begin with can be a major step towards ensuring that the curve is shallow and short. In most cases, the system design is only truly finalized once a vendor is chosen, and that vendor performs their internal detailed design engineering process. When this design is complete, the company purchasing the system is presented with a set of drawings and design specifications to approve for production. So how does the purchaser know that the vendor’s design is “right”?

Reviewing the design parameters and rationale is a good first step toward understanding the system’s capabilities and the vendors line of reasoning when developing the design. In simpler systems, reviewing these data models in spreadsheets may be sufficient to ensure that the design will meet the operational needs. However, in more complex systems, it may not be possible to thoroughly model all of the ways in which the system will operate using even the most sophisticated of spreadsheets.

For these more complex designs, companies do well to consider investing in two key technologies which can help ensure that the design is truly optimized around their business needs:  simulation technology and slotting software. These are the subject of our next two blogs, stay tuned!



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About Ian Hobkirk

Ian Hobkirk

Ian Hobkirk is the founder and Managing Director of Commonwealth Supply Chain Advisors. Over his 20-year career, he has helped hundreds of companies reduce their distribution labor costs, improve space utilization, and meet their customer service objectives. He has formed supply chain consulting organizations for two different systems integration firms, and managed the supply chain execution practice at The AberdeenGroup, a leading technology analyst firm.


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