Supply Scan

Companies Find Value From Automated Systems: Survey


The Integrated Systems and Controls (ISC) Council of Material Handling Industry of America (MHIA), Charlotte, NC, has released the second in a series of automation reports titled Sentiment Towards Automation in Warehousing, Distribution and Manufacturing.

Looking over the survey as a whole, several key takeaways important to the material handling and logistics industry emerge:

  • There is a high degree of satisfaction among users of material handling automation: Eighty-one percent of manufacturing respondents and 86 percent of warehousing/distribution center respondents are satisfied, very satisfied or extremely satisfied with their systems.
  • More than 90 percent of users report that automation is an asset to their operation, a career enhancer and a competitive advantage to their company.
  • Of these facilities with automation, 76 percent plan to add more automation in the next 18 months.
  • Despite a challenging economy, 61 percent of manufacturing users and 53 percent of warehousing/distribution center users say current business conditions are influencing their plans to buy more automation hardware. Meanwhile, 42 percent of manufacturing users and 50 percent of warehousing/distribution center users say the economy is influencing their decision to buy software.

Among non-users, however, the perceived cost of automation is still the number one reason why non-users say they have not considered automation or considered and rejected plans to automate (53 percent). Forty-seven percent (47 percent) say automation is tough to justify to top management.

Still, roughly a third of non-users believe that automation may be considered for their facilities in the next 18 months due to increased sales, business growth and an improved economy.

According to the survey, automation has made inroads in every department in manufacturing and warehousing/distribution facilities. In both instances, automation is most prevalent in processes with a high labor component. These include order picking, shipping and order consolidation in warehousing/distribution and the production line, finished goods handling and assembly cells in manufacturing.

However, there are still barriers to justifying and implementing an automation project. Respondents were asked to identify the leading drivers influencing their decision to invest in automation and the leading deterrents that are preventing them from investing in automation. Respondents focused on the economic benefits that go directly to the bottom line of their operations, including cost justification, labor savings, return on investment (ROI), time savings, increased productivity and the economy.

Hanson Logistics Adds
Refrigerated Service To
Velocities MVC Program

Hanson Logistics, a provider of temperature-controlled logistics in St. Joseph, MI, is expanding its Velocities Multi-Vendor Consolidation (MVC) program to include exclusive refrigerated service.

The exclusive refrigerated service assures processors that their products will not be co-mingled with frozen products in the same trailer. By sharing trailers set specifically to hold temperatures between 34­F to 38F, refrigerated food shippers are assured a “protect from freeze” environment while still receiving high quality, on-time delivery.

Hanson says its Velocities MVC has the critical mass to build consolidated truckload shipments among multiple vendors for collaborative distribution through the United States

“Our emphasis on food quality and safety extends from our warehouses out to final delivery,” says Andrew Janson, president, Hanson Logistics. “The volume, process and assets are in place for refrigerated food shippers to achieve the same cost benefits as shippers in a frozen consolidation program.”

Velocities MVC is a temperature-controlled distribution program that leverages Hanson Transportation Management Services and the strategic location of the Chicago Consolidation Center, in Hobart, Ind. The collaborative solution offers cost-effective distribution reaching national retailers and food-service DCs with highest Must-Arrive-by-Date (MABD) metrics.

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