One of the very best things about being a consultant is the rolling opportunity to talk with companies about what they are experiencing and where they see opportunities.
So, based upon what we have heard and experienced, are 3 predictions on what we think might happen and 3 thoughts about what should happen.
Financially, warehouse automation is becoming an absolute ‘no brainer’ delivering huge savings while ticking service assurance and environmental boxes. However, you have to get it right! Businesses are rightly alert to the risks of getting design, selection and commissioning wrong.
Why is this? In many businesses there is a real ‘chasm’ between management experience and logistics shop floor operations. While management may want the benefits of automation, they don’t have the capabilities to effectively overcome the natural resistance to change that exists amongst their planners, supervisors and transporters.
The primary demand from our clients over the past 5 years has been that projects must deliver cost savings PLUS other tangible benefits. We’ve seen zero indication that this has changed. If anything, feedback is that uncertainty is leading businesses to push for more of the same.
While manufacturers can still leverage their economies-of-scale advantage, they should be reinvesting in the cohesion, effectiveness and competitiveness of their distributor networks through rationalizing network structures and streamlining processes form end-to-end. (Technology will be an enabler of this exercise, but not its core.)
Failure to do something will see the continued decline of the GT and of manufacturers’ influence over the marketplace.
With businesses in certain markets (Malaysia being a great example) struggling to establish stable (currently predominantly male) warehousing teams, an obvious solution is to tap into a new resource pool by creating warehouse environments that work for both genders. (This aligns with the continuing trend of increasing numbers of women taking up careers within the supply chain sector.)
Why hasn’t anyone come up with a motorcycle designed from the bottom up as a freight carrying machine? Smaller wheels? A much longer chassis? An ‘articulated trailer’ configuration? We’re not automotive engineers, but if feels like, with a little imagination, a breakthrough might be possible if we moved away from the notion that the solution must be built ‘on top of’ a standard motorcycle.
While each of the ‘might happens’ and ‘should happens’ discussed above are independent observations, we note that all 6 will create economic benefit…enhancing the likelihood of them happening.
We also note that most of them will bring societal and environmental benefits:
The front runner is warehouse automation. Our recent projects have demonstrated that well designed, well commissioned automation creates serious financial savings. However, these are achieved by eradicating half the warehousing jobs that exist today. We’re hoping that our region’s ongoing economic expansion will continue to create more and better roles for those released.
Anyway, that’s it! We hope you found our thoughts to be of interest. We’d love to hear any feedback that you may have.
Here’s to 2021 being a better year for everyone!