Not Ready for Robots? How to Start Down the Path to Automation

Investing in robotics sounds great on paper, but can be a huge risk and disruption to operations. If you don’t sell out to robots today, does that mean you’ll be left behind in the future? Possibly, but there are alternatives that can deliver great results immediately, while starting you down the path to automation.

Robotics has been all the buzz in recent years, but are warehouses really better off having spent millions of dollars in capital and in time (since deploying robots seriously interrupts operations)? This year alone, 69% of operations and supply chain leaders say their tech investments haven’t fully delivered expected results.1 That’s not a glowing review, considering the industry is expected to spend $37.6 billion on automated vehicles and robots.2

So if you don’t sell out to robots today, will that put you behind your competitors tomorrow? Possibly, but there are alternatives.

Automation Technology that Workers Love

In a market that has faced continuing labor shortages, supply chain leaders must prioritize the employee experience to mitigate the rising cost of employee turnover. It’s more important than ever to consider who makes up most of the available workforce today, what they value, and how they like to work. 

Gen Z and Millennials value simplicity and feeling like they’re fulfilling a greater mission. Is it possible for them to feel that sense of gratification even in a busy warehouse with repetitive processes?

Yes! Give them the technology they want. Today’s workforce has grown up with mobile devices and voice recognition at their fingertips, in their cars, and in their smart homes. If you’re handing them a metal clipboard, printed paper, or a bulky handgun with too many buttons, you’re making them groan internally.

How does each generation prefer to work in the supply chain?

Voice technology is intuitive and familiar, just like talking to Siri or Alexa. The headset and wireless voice device are comfortable, light, and go unnoticed throughout the full shift. It’s also fast – no need to keep looking down at the assignment instructions or fumbling with something in hand.

A picker at one of our customer’s voice-enabled distribution centers told us, “I can’t believe I have my two hands again!” Another one said, “I don’t want to be without voice.”

Automation Technology that Provides Flexibility to Grow

The biggest reason why most tech investments today aren’t providing ROI? Integration complexity. Before signing your facility up for a drastic upgrade, DC Velocity suggests to consider:

  • Identify the area that would most benefit from automation, such as the order selection process where repeatable, labor-driven, speedy tasks are key.
  • Choose a solution that allows for as much flexibility as possible, such as the abilities to deploy additional workflows easily or to expand technology into other warehouse applications beyond picking, instead of locking you into rigid workflows and locations.
  • Lean on proven track records of technology that has been used and updated throughout several decades of supply chain evolution. Robots are still largely in development, while other automation methods like voice technology have been around for over 30 years and are seeing new advancements with every turn of the market.

Mountain Leverage’s voice solutions provide the ultimate integration flexibility with portable workflows across WMS solutions, support for various devices (Android, Talkman, scanners, headsets, and more), minimal IT involvement, and quick, seamless training for supervisors and staff. Learn more about Ascend, our exclusive workflow execution and integration system.

Automation Technology at a Fraction of the Cost

Mountain Leverage’s Hands-Free, Eyes-Free™ solutions offer all the advantages of automation technology, but without waiting years for ROI. In fact, we find that almost all our implementations provide complete ROI within the first nine to twelve months.

The cost of an error, a short, or an extra few seconds of wasted time in the picking process may not seem like much – but when you multiply it by hundreds of thousands of cases per year, the difference adds up! Voice solutions drastically improve picking accuracy and speed, so workers make fewer mistakes and fulfill orders faster.

With the annual savings you can achieve from voice solutions, you can save up for future investments in robotics and more automation. Learn more about the benefits of voice picking solutions and reach out to Mountain Leverage to see if voice is the way for your organization to get on the path to automation today.