Automation in Material Handling: The Pros and Cons

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Automation is a difficult topic. Many people feel it takes jobs away from workers. However, automation also helps workers in many ways. In this blog, we will look at both sides of this topic of the material handling industry.

Pros of Automated Material Handling

Save Money. Automated systems cut costs because they work faster and more efficiently than manual equipment. Automated systems are an investment. They are expensive, but business owners save money in the long run by hiring fewer workers.

Improve Efficiency. Automated systems improve efficiency because they eliminate operator errors. The task gets completed easily and quickly, which means more gets done.

Open up Space. Automation helps maximize space. Materials can be stored higher and stacked on top of each other. Also, items are easier to access once they’re stored, which saves a lot of floor space in the warehouse.

Reduce the Risk of Accidents. Automated systems reduce accidents in the workplace. Accidents and injury are a big concern for business owners and employees. The most common workplace injuries occur from tripping, lifting, or bending. Cut back the need for these physical activities, and you’ll see fewer injuries as a result.

Fulfill More Orders. If you set-up an automated system, it’s likely both productivity and efficiency improved a lot. You fulfill orders faster and with fewer mistakes. You will be able to take on more customers because you’re now able to fulfill even more orders.

Increase Property Value. A warehouse with automated systems is worth more money. If you bought the warehouse empty and later installed these systems, then you can sell for more than you bought.

Cons of Automation in Material Handling

Expensive Up-Front. Automated equipment is more expensive than manual equipment. Purchasing it is an investment. You will need to seriously consider your revenue before you buy.  It’s unwise to invest in this equipment if you can’t scale your business to the point that this investment is profitable.

Reduce Warehouse Flexibility. Once your automated system is in place, you won’t have much flexibility in your floor space. Additionally, you need to consider your long-term business goals. If you know you need to move to a bigger warehouse eventually, wait until you make that move before installing an automated system.

Possible Malfunctions. Like any machine, automated equipment can malfunction and even break. Malfunctions cause downtime and set back all of your operations. You will need to identify the problem quickly and fix it permanently before you lose too much money, or worse, upset your customers.

Cost of Maintenance. Maintenance costs are another con of automated material handling systems. Much like the previous disadvantage, when machines break, the whole operation is put on hold. The only way to prevent this is to schedule regular maintenance on all parts of the system. It’s unlikely someone in your warehouse knows how to do the job, so you’ll have to hire a professional or specialist, which is expensive.

Pros of Lange-Lift’s Material Handling Equipment

Lange-Lift makes all kinds of custom material handling equipment, from scissor lifts to turntables and more. Located right here in Milwaukee, Lange-Lift makes high-quality, heavy-duty equipment, especially for the material handling industry. Contact us today or check out more of our equipment in our product catalogs. 

 

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