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Supply Chain Performance
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Warehouse automation: how to build the right system for your company

Throughout the world, warehouse automation is taking off as most companies have now integrated warehouse automation as a critical component of their long-term success.

On March 21, 2023

A combination of factors drives this upward trend: the search for higher operational efficiency and better space optimization; the need to increase capacity to handle higher volumes fueled by the rise in e-commerce; and the need to address labor shortage. And this is only starting: as automation technologies mature, we can expect more companies to adopt automated processes in their warehouses.

94% of companies consider improved efficiency, accuracy, and enhanced customer service as top drivers in all types of warehouses.

Security, reliability, and efficiency: the main automation drivers

According to the FM Logistic survey*, improved operational efficiency and enhanced customer service are the top two warehouse automation drivers. This is true for warehouses dedicated to e-commerce orders as well as B2B warehouses. The third main driver is error reduction for e-commerce warehouses and increased safety for B2B warehouses. “When it comes to preventing accidents in warehouses, automation can make warehouses more efficient and provides a safer environment regarding the interaction between workers and equipment. This is a major focus of our work and a priority topic for FM Logistic”, says Romain Chevallet, Group occupational health manager.

Financial concerns amongst the top automation hurdles

Unsurprisingly, most surveyed companies identified high investment costs and low or delayed ROI as crucial barriers to automation. Automation projects are capital-intensive: they require massive upfront investment and often take years before generating their full benefits. Complex implementation and high maintenance costs are other limiting factors for e-commerce warehouses, while resistance to adoption is the biggest concern for B2B warehouses.

Overcoming automation hurdles

While automation raises challenges, there are ways to overcome them. According to Patrick Bellart, FM Logistic Robotization and Automation Director, mobile robotic solutions are a good choice as they can be reusable if necessary. “We estimated that 70% of the value of mobile robotic solutions are reusable, compared to only 30% for lift or crane. Another barrier lever is to mutualize automated solutions with different clients to share costs and risks. But only if the rules have been clearly defined!” 

FM Logistic is constantly focusing on building the right automated system for their clients based on their specific needs and constraints. “We aim to integrate automation in warehouses when it is beneficial from operational and cost perspectives”, says Yannick Buisson, Managing director for France, Spain and Central Europe.

* FM Logistic surveyed 100 respondents across three sectors – FMCG (46), Retail (40), Beauty & Luxury (14) – based in India (40), Poland (30) and France (30).

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