Shawn Semer, director of sales and marketing with Signode, lays out the key deciding factors for companies looking to automate processes or integrate new equipment into the warehouse.
When it comes to automating key processes in the warehouse, cost savings are always a major factor. But they aren’t the sole consideration. New palletizing equipment, for example, can lessen workers’ risk of injury caused by manual handling of heavy or hazardous items, Semer says. It can also result in less damage to product, making for a more consistent operation overall.
Where the automation takes place depends on the nature and layout of the facility in question. In some manufacturing settings today, Semer says, it might be better to automate at the end of the line, which saves on floor space and reduces the need for extra equipment such as elevators and conveyors. Installing individual palletizers at the end of each production line also lessens the risk of creating a single point of failure, when multiple lines are put into a common palletizer.
The adoption of new palletizing equipment goes in waves, Semer. Currently, there’s a surge of interest in the technology, in response to a shortage of labor in the warehouse. And cost continues to be a concern in both manufacturing and distribution facilities. In the current environment of belt-tightening, Semer says, end-of-line palletizers in single-ship operations become more feasible. He also sees a trend in the adoption of mixed unit-load palletizing.
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