Do you remember the Aesop’s Fable with the ants and the grasshopper? It’s a simple story with a fairly straightforward moral. While the grasshopper played music and had fun all summer, the ants took the time to store away food. Now that it was late autumn, the ill-prepared grasshopper has regrets and begs the ants to share. The ants are having none of it. It doesn’t go well for the grasshopper.
I think it’s fair to say that there are very few grasshoppers among us today. Retailers and manufacturers have long since learned the necessity of being industrious and working ahead. We are all ants now — and have been for some time. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still challenges. Working hard will only get you so far. Working smarter is also necessary to successfully prepare.
Preparing for your winter
For many retailers and manufacturers, peak season is the end-of-year holidays. And like ants preparing for winter, many have been planning for it and working toward it for quite some time.
But peaks can occur at any point during the year. For a retailer that sells garden equipment, it’s probably spring. For a candy maker, it might be the lead up to Halloween. It’s not always about December!
No matter when a peak season may be for a company, the process of properly preparing for it is never done on a whim. Indeed, many companies have looked to the flexibility and scalability that automation provides to meet the manufacturing and order fulfillment demands of their busy season. But the timeline to implement these systems can be significant. Are you a retailer who needs a new automated solution to help meet demands for Christmas this year? That’s going to be…a challenge.
Don’t get me wrong. Dematic absolutely encourages you to consider the advantages of a new or upgraded automation system (and there are plenty of experts here who can help guide you). But for now, let’s examine what you can do that will have an immediate and positive impact on your next peak season.
Let's look at your options
Think of the automation you already have. Come peak season (whenever that is), you obviously need it to be running at its best. Peak season is typically profit season. And while Dematic automated systems are highly reliable, they do operate in the real world. An overheated motor, a computer communications glitch, a worn-out sensor — any of these can cause a slowdown in operations. In peak season, even minor slowdowns can cost a lot of money. An operational issue with your automation system doesn’t have to be dramatic to be catastrophic.
The good news is, Dematic offers several services that allow you to anticipate and resolve those real-world situations, services that prepare you for peak season proactively, not reactively. Here is a brief description of each:
- System Assessment: An onsite visit where a team of Dematic experts performs an audit at your facility to discover any potential issues with your automated material handling systems and to validate that they are performing as designed.
- Remote Support Services: A contracted service where a Dematic technician is assigned to your operation to provide remote support services on demand via VPN connection and phone contact.
- Onsite Support Services: A contracted service where Dematic resources are available onsite to provide dedicated support for critical technology such as sortation subsystems, WES/WCS software, and automated storage.
- Preventative Maintenance Task Program: A service where Asset Management Software (also known as Computerized Maintenance Management Software) monitors and manages your systems to ensure you complete all scheduled preventive maintenance tasks.
- Temporary Technician Staffing: A service where Dematic provides skilled service technicians on an as-needed basis when you have a gap in maintenance or operations staffing requirements (such as during peak season).
- Condition Monitoring Controls: A service where the Dematic Digital Services team installs Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) sensors on critical components within your systems to collect, process, and present data to operations and maintenance management. The sensors along with the visualization software allow managers to make proactive decisions based on real-time information to maximize system uptime.
- Replacement Parts Inventory: A service where Dematic Asset Management Software ensures that your replacement parts inventory is fully stocked with appropriate quantities and validates that you have an adequate supply of critical spare parts.
What to do next
Clearly, it’s no longer enough for ants to simply work hard and not be like the grasshopper. To properly plan ahead, you need to work smarter. Fortunately, Dematic Lifecycle Services has the strategies and the services that can help you prepare.