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Automated Solutions for the Manufacturing Industry

More flexible, increasingly agile and resilient manufacturing solutions are needed for the modern economy. In the wake of the supply chain disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, industries that handle material goods are looking for ways to efficiently store and manage buffer inventories of both finished goods and raw materials closer to their end users.

However, real estate and construction costs are currently prohibitive to building new facilities, forcing many companies to look for ways to increase their capacity, productivity, and efficiency within their existing footprint. Lean manufacturing and warehousing solutions are needed to bring capacity up while keeping costs down.

At PeakLogix, we’re a brand agnostic material handling systems integrator that specializes in innovative, bespoke automated solutions. As your material handling solutions partner, we help you increase the consistency and efficiency throughout your distribution processes. We deliver customized solutions tailored to our partner’s needs that address issues ranging from ergonomics and employee safety to fully automated material handling and warehousing solutions.

Current challenges for the manufacturing industry

Quality control from start to finish

Automation allows for the fusion of robotic and computer interfaces, allowing for the continuous monitoring of goods from the time raw materials enter a facility, through production processes, and all the way out the shipping door and even to the end user. This increases product quality and allows for the optimization of resources, reducing waste of both product and resources.

Many automated solutions are available, with new products coming to market seemingly daily. Implementing these systems should be strategically planned so that their ROI can be optimized, and they can serve as the springboard toward the company’s future growth. And in brownfield projects, upgrading to these systems has to happen with minimal disruption to a facility’s ongoing processes.

Continued efficiency during shift changes

Especially for facilities operating twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and managing multiple shift changes a day, integrating automated solutions can help maintain productivity. Something as simple as an automated depalletizer can allow incoming raw materials to transition to the next stage of the production process with little oversight and no manual labor.

Upgrading forklift power supplies to smart lithium-ion batteries — another relatively simple, noninvasive upgrade — can keep your forklifts performing optimally, while recharging in minutes. And Automated Guided Vehicles can be integrated into a facility with little to no change to its infrastructure, allowing for goods and materials to be moved automatically throughout a facility without the need for an operator.

Skilled labor shortage

Low unemployment, high rates of retirement, and increased consumer demand are among the reasons that labor of all kinds are both harder to find and more expensive. But industries that need skilled labor are being especially hard hit by the labor shortage. The need to train workers increases expenses, and can even lower product quality and time to market.

There are many ways to combat the skilled labor shortage, including the use of automation. Contrary to many people’s fears, automation does not take jobs so much as it fills gaps in the labor market. Automation takes over the repetitive, low-value jobs that the modern workforce is currently avoiding. It allows the workers who used to do those jobs to be moved to more value-adding, high-skill jobs. And studies show that retaining employees, and retraining them for roles that are better paying and hold more responsibility, is a great way to increase employee retention and morale.

Increased need for on-site storage

In the wake of the supply chain disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, more companies are looking to onshore at least enough of their goods and materials to allow for buffer inventories. This means that there’s an increased need for high-quality storage close enough to industrial sites to keep costs and response times low.

At the same time, however, the real estate and construction industries are seeing their own post-COVID effects. The consumer shift to ecommerce during the pandemic’s lockdowns created demand for warehousing that hasn’t let up.

This has created a scenario where many facilities are looking to streamline their processes and storage in order to increase their on-site storage capacity. Many facilities are looking to automated solutions that maximize the density of their existing storage, as well as create new storage perhaps by moving higher into the vertical space.

Safety protocols and production compliance

Automation can increase employee safety in a number of key ways, from implementing more ergonomic systems to completely removing people from a process. Something as simple as a light curtain or weight plate, connected to a Warehouse Management System, can let the system know if an employee has entered a restricted space. This simple, relatively low-cost solution can keep people safe around automation and manufacturing processes.

Furthermore, automated systems provide real-time monitoring that can stop processes near instantaneously in the event of an accident. But even before catastrophes happen, this kind of monitoring is instrumental in keeping equipment well maintained, and to ensure that processes are working optimally, so that accidents can be avoided.

Important considerations when evaluating a systems integration partner for the manufacturing industry

Are they consultative?

When partnering with a systems integrator, one of the risks facilities in the manufacturing industry face is trying to work with a partner that promises more than they can deliver. The integration partner smiles through consultations and then, behind the scenes, desperately tries to invent the technology they need to deliver on their promises. They miss deadline after deadline until their client reaches a point of no return – they’re willing to justify their costs by seeing any kind of benefit from their investment. Even if those benefits are well below what was originally planned and agreed to.

PeakLogix is not that kind of partner. We are fully consultative, and prioritize your goals and needs. We undertake a thorough discovery process so that we understand both the roadblocks you face now and the goals you have for the future. Our solutions are designed to help you move past your roadblocks, and scale with your business growth. We don’t offer solutions in a top-down fashion that refuses input and denies questions, but collaborate with you and provide the recommendations we believe will best suit your needs.

Are they vendor agnostic?

Vendor agnostic solutions providers like PeakLogix don’t push their favorite suppliers onto their customers. Instead, we work with our suppliers to find and test the applications for which their product is the best fit. We don’t pitch untested products as viable solutions, but rather look for the best solution that already has a track record of solid performance.

Being open to integrating the best solutions on the market — regardless of their manufacturer — means we can truly optimize solutions for our clients, and quickly adjust to changing demands.

Do they develop tailored solutions for your unique challenges?

Being a consultative, vendor agnostic firm means that we look at every project with fresh eyes. Yes, we have decades of experience that inform our decisions and help us quickly find solutions to problems — but we don’t try to force the same solution on every client.

Instead, we work with our clients to discover both their pain points and goals. And our approach often leads to two positive outcomes. First, the discovery of unknown root causes to problems that allow us to address systemic issues with solutions of a customized design. And second, the application of scalable solutions that will both meet today’s challenges, and scale in ways the company needs to meet its future goals.

Can they scale to your needs?

The changing urban landscape, an aging workforce, the large-scale adoption of ecommerce, and the increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning have created challenges and brought opportunities that are continuing to change industries in every sector. Businesses need solutions that are more responsive than ever, with the ability to scale both up and down to meet a company’s growth as well as periodic changes in demand.

PeakLogix has been solving the material-handling needs of companies of every size, and in many industries, for over 30 years. We are dedicated to our own continuous improvement because we know that designing systems that will adapt to your changing business needs means being knowledgeable about changes in the industry. By offering adaptive solutions where appropriate, we bring added value to our partners.

Are they available when you need them?

PeakLogix started in 1989 as a material handling and systems integrator serving clients across the Mid-Atlantic. Over the past 30 years, we’ve completed thousands of successful projects and have grown to become a thought leader in the industry and a national provider of innovative solutions, software systems, and automated technologies.

From the beginning of our working relationships with clients, our team works to discover your goals and challenges. We collaborate with you to develop solutions that meet your needs today and also lay the groundwork for your future growth. When your project is complete, we offer services including 24/7 system support, operator training, and maintenance and repairs.

At PeakLogix, our partnerships are our priority.

What logistics, automation, and distribution solutions should you consider for your manufacturing operations?

Pick Modules

Pick modules use pallet or carton flow racks to push eaches, cartons, totes, or containers through a facility. PeakLogix integrates a variety of pick modules that can be tailored to your facility’s needs.

Pick modules can allow operators to pick small parts quickly and reliably, increasing speed and accuracy in assembly, manufacturing, or distribution processes.

Horizontal Carousels

Horizontal Carousels are a cost-effective way to quickly add storage capacity and increase put away and retrieval accuracy and efficiency. They are ideal for high throughput facilities and high speed picking, and can increase storage density by up to 75%.

Horizontal Carousels are generally arranged into pods or zones. Multiple carousels in a pod can create variable access points to create an efficient, worker-friendly layout that can triple average pick rates.

Pick to Light

Pick-to-light is a cost-effective solution that streamlines warehouse picking operations and increases picking speed, accuracy, and productivity. Especially in omnichannel fulfillment centers, pick-to-light solutions enable the reliable processing of high numbers of SKUs, while increasing efficiency.

Pick-to-light solutions are often a good entry point for a warehouse’s automation transformation. They can work as standalone systems or integrate with Warehouse Management Software, enabling them to easily scale with a company’s growth.

Robotic Palletizers

Robotic palletizing increases the accuracy, consistency, and efficiency of palletizing operations. This not only increases throughput, but also lowers shipping fees and optimizes the use of space in a warehouse by palletizing items more compactly.

Automation can eliminate, or at least reduce, the manual labor associated with palletizing, freeing that labor to move on to more value-adding and rewarding tasks. With the right end-of-arm tool, they can handle everything from the heaviest boxes and pails to the thinnest slip sheets and dunnage.

AS/RS

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RSs) optimize productivity and operational throughput through the combination of data-driven optimization, warehouse management software, and labor reallocation. Especially when dealing with small pieces, the manual storage and retrieval of eaches can drain a facility’s profitability. By automating this non-value-adding task, companies can increase both profitability and employee morale, while reducing opportunities for theft.

Any business that deals with the movement and storage of physical goods needs fast, accurate, and efficient storage and retrieval systems. AS/RSs integrate with a facility’s WMS to allow for increased throughput in decanting, reracking, and conveyance of goods; expanded floorspace through the maximization of vertical storage; reduced or avoided capital expenses related to expansions and reallocations; and lowered labor costs.

AGV

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) enhance productivity and workflow in both manufacturing and distribution facilities. AGVs help streamline processes, decrease delays, and move heavy, bulky materials efficiently and safely.

Guided vehicles use a number of navigational methods, tailored to your facility’s needs. They can be customized and programmed to follow the paths in a facility that are safest for staff and most efficient. They can be an integral part of a facility’s material handling and also programmed for complementary tasks such as trash collection or other housekeeping tasks.

Vertical Lift Modules

Vertical Lift Modules (VLMs) are ideal for expanding a facility’s footprint by maximizing vertical storage while also improving throughput rates and reducing labor costs. Vertical lift modules can be ideal for small parts and pieces, as they use inserters and extractors to automatically move trays of goods in and out of compact storage. They can also work with cases, totes, and large items.

VLMs provide user-level access for restricted goods, have basic user controls, and integrate with existing software management systems. Because of their small footprint, they optimize vertical space while freeing up valuable floor space.

Sortation Conveyor Systems

Automated sortation is the process of first identifying and then diverting items on a conveyance system. The conveyor is connected with the facility’s Warehouse Management System (WMS) and, depending on the system, can identify items by weight, color, shape or identifying tags.

Conveyors might use a number of sortation systems to get product to the right destination, including pushers, paddles, shoes, cross belts, and more. In the right applications, automated sortation systems are both faster and more accurate than manual sortation and picking.

Lean Manufacturing Consultation

Lean manufacturing processes look for ways to reduce waste (which it defines as any cost that doesn’t add value to the end user) and maximize efficiency. Lean processes reduce time to market and operating costs, while improving the end product.

Because automation performs the same tasks at the same high standard again and again, it increases lean manufacturing in a number of key ways. Throughput can be accurately predicted. Quality can be more easily measured and controlled. And staff can be assigned to the most value-adding tasks they are capable of handling or of being re-trained for.

PeakLogix offers consultations into how you can increase your facility’s leanness. Contact us today for details.

Advance your manufacturing operations.

Schedule a consultation.

Tell us about your needs and we’ll have someone contact you to talk about the various automated material handling solutions for your manufacturing operations.

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