Taking Stock: Automation for all

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by Emily Atkins
Emily Atkins has been editor of MM&D Magazine since 2002.

Automation. It’s a hard topic to ignore in the warehousing and distribution world these days.

Browsing through the pre-Modex show press releases, I’m struck by the preponderance of automated products that will be on display. (We’ll bring you coverage from Modex in the inaugural June edition of Inside Logistics
MM&D’s new identity – and online.)

It’s a sign that DC and warehouse operations managers need to be considering automated options. If you want to stay competitive, improve safety and productivity and reduce costs, automation is one way to achieve these goals.

Far from being a threat to human workers, many forms of warehouse automation actually stand to improve the work experience. From robots that bring goods to the workers in picking operations, reducing ergonomic strains, to automated forktrucks that take a lot of the risk out of the human-machine interface on the DC floor, these devices are demonstrating enormous potential.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, introducing automation is possible whether you are running a very large or even a very small operation. New, off-the-shelf technologies with low up-front costs are making it possible for even moderately funded DCs to get aboard. Our feature “Meet your new co-worker”, starting on page 12, takes a look at some of the options and strategies smaller operations can employ to join the automation revolution.

Continuing with the automation theme, we are also sharing the experience of a Canadian distributor, Diversco, which has implemented a shuttle system for parts storage and retrieval (page 16) and we also examine the green credibility of drones as a last-mile delivery option. The results are somewhat surprising, so don’t miss this feature on page 19.

In case you missed our announcement last issue, with the June 2018 edition, MM&D will change its identity and become Inside Logistics, Canada’s Supply Chain Magazine. We are really excited about this pending change, and are hard at work planning the transition. To that end, we would love to hear your suggestions and ideas for features, regular columns and more. Please drop me a line with your ideas! emily@newcom.ca