March 24, 2020

COVID-19 Highlights the Need for Rapid Automation Deployment

Colman Roche, head of Sales and Consulting for Swisslog’s e-commerce/retail business unit, has outlined how COVID-19 has emphasized the need for automation deployment.

In a company post, Roche said, “I write this post on the final day of MODEX 2020, a show that has been dominated by a stream of new developments related to COVID-19 virus. While this is a rapidly changing situation, one thing is becoming clear: as public health officials continue to stress the importance of avoiding crowds, consumers are relying more on e-commerce and e-grocery for their basic needs. The e-commerce and e-grocery retailers I spoke with at the show are already seeing sharp spikes in demand and no one is sure how long this surge will last and whether volumes will ever return to previously normal levels.”

Roche continued to explain, “That is creating concerns about how fulfillment operations can scale to meet current and future demand. This is particularly true in the e-grocery space, where demand has just recently reached the point where most grocery chains can no longer rely on manual picking from store shelves to fulfill orders. For many, this spike is occurring in an already rapidly growing segment of their business and before they have fully developed strategies for automating the fulfillment process.”

According to Roche, the big question being asked at MODEX was how quickly can Swisslog get automation up and running? At Swisslog, the company has been focusing on reducing the time to deploy automation for the last several years. The new generation of robotic and data-driven material handling solutions offered provides inherent advantages over legacy automation in terms of deployment times and flexibility.

Roche outlined, “Today, even the 12-month deployment times we could offer customers on a system such as AutoStore just aren’t fast enough. The main reason AutoStore implementations take even this long is because of the need to customize software to the application. As AutoStore was still penetrating the market, virtually every installation required software customizations.”

“That allows us to cut AutoStore implementation time and software costs by as much as half with standardized systems that deliver robust software functionality. With these standardized systems, or AutoStore on Demand, you can go live in as little as six months. If you’re ready to move forward with automation, we can help you accelerate your plans and go live faster.”

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