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Automation in Logistics
By Paul Wormald
Paul is a partner at Hawsons Chartered Accountants who specialises in advising small businesses and businesses in the transport & logistics sector. Paul also specialises in providing cloud accounting services to our clients.
In the modern logistics sector, speed, precision and cost-effective solutions are vitally important to remaining competitive as the sector constantly seeks to streamline its operations. One of the most effective ways of achieving this is via implementing automation. Automation could potentially revolutionise the logistics sector as it has the ability to improve efficiency, reduce errors, and optimise resource allocation.
In this article, we explore the benefits of implementing automation methods that can be employed to improve efficiency in logistics operations.
The benefits of automation in logistics
Automating logistical processes provides the opportunity to reduce human error and improve efficiency. Furthermore, automating manual and repetitive tasks can free up more human resource time which can be used to focus on more complex and strategic activities. This provides employees with the opportunity to improve their skills, knowledge and expertise resulting in increased productivity and better decision-making. In addition, removing staff from manual and repetitive tasks into more complex and strategic activities will provide them with more fulfilment in their role as they will be able to have more of an impact on your business.
Not only does automation improve efficiency and reduce human error, but it also gives logistics companies more ability to scale and deal with a sudden surge in orders. This ability allows logistics companies to act quickly to changing market dynamics enabling them to remain competitive.
Automation Solutions to Consider
Autonomous vehicles: Autonomous vehicles are a new technology that could potentially transform the logistics sector. These vehicles can navigate autonomously, reducing the need for human drivers and offering potential benefits in the future such as improved safety, better fuel consumption and increased productivity.
Vehicle-specific equipment: Vehicles can be fitted with specialist equipment that can be used to automate tasks. This equipment includes conveyor systems which can be used to sort, load and unload goods from the vehicle quicker and more efficiently.
Fleet management and shift assignment technologies: Fleet management systems optimise resources by optimising vehicle routes, performance and real-time tracking. Shift management technologies reduce administrative overheads whilst ensuring that there are optimal staffing levels.
Autonomous Mobile Robot Systems: Autonomous Mobile Robot Systems are commonly used in warehouses for tasks like material handling, order picking, and inventory management. They can navigate through the warehouse environment, pick up items from designated locations and transport them to packing or shipping areas. This improves efficiency, reduces labour costs, and minimises errors.
Automated Guided Vehicles: Automated Guided Vehicles are specialised robotic vehicles designed to autonomously move and transport goods around warehouses, factories and distribution centres. They can pick up items from one location and deliver them to another, helping to optimise the flow of materials and reduce the need for manual handling.
Pick-to-light systems: Pick-to-light systems utilise lights and visual cues to guide workers through the picking process, making it faster and minimising errors.
Route optimisation and planning software: Route optimisation and planning software are tools used to determine the most efficient and cost-effective routes for vehicles or resources to travel between multiple locations or points.
In conclusion, the integration of automation methods into logistics operations holds immense potential for enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, and improving customer satisfaction. Whilst these technologies can lead to huge advancements, it is important to note that a strategic approach is essential. In this article, we have listed many automation methods that can be implemented in logistics companies. But they will not all be appropriate for all logistics companies so it is important to assess operations, identify pain points, and select the most suitable automation methods to implement. By doing so, they can pave the way for a more efficient, resilient, and technologically driven logistics industry.
Learn more about how technology can benefit the logistics industry at our upcoming seminar hosted in partnership with the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT).
Where: Paradise Computing Ltd, Pedigree Farm, Althorp Estate, Northampton.NN7 4HE
Speakers: Alex Hamp, Sales Director at Paradise Computing and Steve Jemmott, Sales Manager at Sicon.
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