Warehouse automation (WA) was the event topic and it certainly was of interest with members coming from as far as Richibucto and Antigonish (you can tell we are in the Maritimes with place names like that!)
After a quick EMC update on upcoming SIG events and training initiates in NS and NB the group was treated to presentations by our TWO hosts. Compass Minerals (Sifto) who are challenged with a small boardroom but wanted an event with this topic provided the refreshments presented first on their perspective and history dealing with Warehouse management. After Andrew wrapped up John from Surrette Battery (Rolls) enlightened those in attendance with highlights of their journey into WA.
Andrew discusses the story at Compass Minerals...
Some key points discussed included:
- Removing the human error(s) and manual entry challenges
- Knowing what you have and where it’s located
- Ease of reporting and tracking data trends.
- Reducing manual labour entering info into spreadsheets
- What sort of technology is needed?
- Lots of discussion on what to use and where to get it.
- Keeping it simple and robust is important
- Use commonly used technology (what does Walmart use?) to get good local support
What is the cost?
- Costs vary depending on the technology and the coverage in the building
- Setting up Wi-Fi is not cheap but the investment will pay off quickly
- Overall the cost of not doing it outweighs the cost of doing it
What are the challenges?
- Make sure the system integrates well with your current / future ERP software.
- People....change is hard for many people. Manage the rollout with care (get your training with the staff) and communicate, communicate, communicate!
- Be flexible, you will not get it right on the first attempt. Do not paint bin numbers and rack locations at first. Use tape or magnetic signs so you can correct as you improve
What to expect?
- Knowing what you have in raw materials, work in progress and finished goods.
- Improved customer relations due to improved deliveries
- Less scrap and waste (now that you can see it)
- Less chaos when the warehouse guru goes on vacation
- Even some 5S will happen as you streamline
We only scratched the surface on this one and future WA events are clearly going to happen.
The group wrapped up the morning with a walkthrough of the Surrette facility with a focus on WA. good to see the theory in action!
Thanks to Andrew and Compass Minerals for the topic idea, the presentation and treats and thanks as well to Pascal and John from Surrette for all the effort and the all-important room.
Keep your eyes on your emails for upcoming events or suggest one yourself, a little conversation never hurt anyone!
For questions on this event or EMC in general, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org