Know the automation situation
Knowing when to say no can keep distribution costs from skyrocketing
By Dean M. Starovasnik
In today’s cost-cutting environment, automation often is looked upon as the “silver bullet” that can drive down operational expenses and improve productivity. For these reasons, automation has been used extensively in manufacturing. Having removed much of the non-value-added cost from manufacturing, companies are looking at the distribution side of their operations with similar intent. As a result, many are asking, “Couldn’t we automate that (function, process, handling step)?” Frequently, they have seen an advertisement or magazine article acclaiming the wonders of a particular tool that promises to solve their problems and meet their needs with little or no risk. And in most situations, the answer is: “Yes, you probably can do that. However, we are not certain you should.” By understanding when automation is likely to be a wise choice, you will be better prepared to address colleagues or even your boss when they ask such questions.
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