How to successfully implement intralogistics supply chain solutions

April 29, 2021
To optimize the logistical flow of goods, data, and processes at your facility, first focus on these three steps: optimize, connect, and automate.

By Dave Norton, The Raymond Corporation

The term “intralogistics solutions” is increasingly used in the supply chain, popping up in brochures, webinars, and virtual meetings alike. But what does “intralogistics solutions” actually mean? It’s the art of optimizing, integrating, automating and managing the logistical flow of information, processes and material goods within the walls of a warehouse or distribution center. It’s more than just a buzzword, but only if you have the right partner to implement it.

The goal of intralogistics solutions — when applied correctly — is not only to help create greater visibility into a facility and its material handling functions, but also to help customers increase effectiveness and efficiency through the optimization of people and processes. How does this happen? Through a mix of best-in-class methodologies, innovative products, and software-based, data-powered solutions that work together to help customers achieve their goals.

Beginning the journey

There are three key steps to creating an optimized workplace with end-to-end intralogistics solutions in mind: optimize, connect and automate. These steps in succession will improve your warehouse functions as well as create a culture of continuous improvement throughout your company.

Optimize. Optimization is a crucial first step before investing in the latest material handling products and technologies. Ways to achieve optimization include:

  • Applying the principles of lean management — a long-term discipline that helps eliminate inefficiencies and identify challenges — can help visualize improvements, root out inefficiencies and continuously improve your operations.
  • Gathering and analyzing data to identify inefficiencies and wastes. Finding waste can help fund that next level of investment when you’re ready.

Connect. Running your business better also means finding ways to connect your entire operation with technology, including:

  • Addressing pain points with smart, leading-edge technology to maximize operational performance and analyze data.
  • Gaining actionable insights with telematics, allowing you to improve your operation and pinpoint inefficiencies.
  • Utilizing an advanced technology platform that can help you integrate material handling equipment and automated systems and provide oversight into warehouse efficiency and processes.
  • Reinforcing confidence with technology and education opportunities, like virtual reality simulation.

Automate. Finally, it’s time to identify activities that make sense to automate. To some, automation can seem overwhelming. But, if implemented properly, automation can help your operation increase productivity and accuracy — while answering your need for labor support. Before choosing an automated solution, be sure to:

  • Leverage data gathered in the optimize and connect stages to help determine which automated solution is right for you.
  • Be diligent in evaluating new technologies, such as operator assist technologies and robotics.
  • Implement solutions such as automated towing, stacking, storage and retrieval to improve your warehouse functions. Remember: Not all automated solutions are created equal.

What makes a good intralogistics solutions provider?

With so many options available to improve operations, you may not know where to start.
The key to successfully implementing intralogistics solutions is optimizing before you automate, not just investing in a “product” because you think it can solve a problem.

It’s imperative to find a partner that works with you to find the best solutions and the right process for each specific application and organization — not just the quickest one. We suggest looking for a partner that can provide end-to-end solutions that meet your operation’s unique challenges every step of the way. That way, you can get from the beginning of your journey to the end with one reliable source.

What does a provider with this capability look like and offer? An end-to-end intralogistics solutions provider can implement a variety of solutions to achieve your goals, depending on your unique application, including material handling equipment, intelligent warehouse technology, automation, support services and business process improvement.

Now is the time to create greater visibility of facility and material handling functions, as well as increase efficiency, visualize changes and continuously improve your operations.

Dave Norton is vice president of customer solutions and support at The Raymond Corporation.
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