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White Paper  |  Randy Marble  |  Wynright Corporation

Material Handling Automation: Keeping the Pieces Working in Concert

Nearly 75 percent of managers rank distribution center (DC) automation as the No. 1 way to increase productivity and thereby increase profitability, according to a survey by Intermec Technologies. Customer demands to move more product through the supply chain faster (and through more channels), combined with a shrinking labor pool, also drove organizations to incorporate automated equipment and processes into their fulfillment centers and/or DCs.

Early on, it was usually rather piecemeal—add an automated conveyor here or a palletizing robot cell there. And even the end-to-end installations were more of a collection of individual contributors than a fully coordinated system. The end result is a patchwork quilt structure comparable to an orchestra without a conductor. Instead of hearing a lovely symphony, you just get a cacophony of random sounds. With nearly 3,000 hours lost each year to DC inefficiencies, according to Intermec, organizations can’t afford to have a single element out of rhythm.
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