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Automation Technology in the Workplace: Key Considerations

Source: MÜL Technologies / by Carrie Konopacki

Many organizations question budgets for emerging and future technologies. The unknown future business climate holds back decision making. Will a new technology be around — and still working — in five years? What about ten, 15 or more? Or will it be outdated in two years?

Now the decision has been made to invest in new technology, but does your existing facility’s structure allow for easy integration? Implementing new technologies has long been a difficult decision for business managers — especially those looking to implement automation into their workflows.

Bells and Whistles Vs. Affordable, Powerful Technology

Think back to the 1980s: Did you purchase a Betamax system or VHS? Beta was considered the superior product in terms of capabilities, while VHS was more affordable to the masses. The average user didn’t need all the extra quality of picture, sound and construction that Betamax systems offered, so most people chose the more affordable route. That’s how Betamax lost the video formatting war with VHS — and how VHS proved that technology can be affordable and functional.

Automation is a generic term thrown around the supply chain industry. The term can describe vastly different things, from an automated storage retrieval system (AS/RW) to the mechanical pencil your inventory clerk uses. Your definition depends on the application you need automation to represent.

According to Merriam-Webster, automation is defined as:

  1. the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically
  2. the state of being operated automatically
  3. automatically controlled operation of an apparatus, process, or system by mechanical or electronic devices that take the place of human labor

While the definition above may come off as rather complex, automation does not need to be complicated. It can be simple to introduce automation and still achieve flexibility, scalability, reliability and safety.

Automate to Eliminate Waste — Not Jobs

Consumer demand drives the need for industrial robotics. Ecommerce, in particular, has increased pressure for workplaces to automate for greater efficiency and optimization. And while some people equate the term with replacing human capital for automated or robotic workers, that isn’t always the case.

In many cases, bringing automation into the workplace enables human workers to be more efficient, productive and profitable. If you could eliminate the process of humans manually moving products from station to station by choosing to use an affordable autonomous mobile robot (AMR), would you?

Technology Should Make Work Easier

Automation is only complex — and expensive — if you make it that way. There are simple ways to begin the process of automating; due diligence and research are musts when getting started. Don’t buy Betamax when VHS suits your needs.

The same principle holds true with AMRs. Numerous companies offer solutions for automating with robots. Some are very complex, requiring integration with your warehouse management system (WMS) and need weeks — or even months — of implantation time and technical training to add to worker skill sets. Plus, they carry a price tag to match all that complexity.

On the other hand, there are simpler AMR options available that don’t require intensive training, integration or WiFi — and they offer a more affordable price, too.

MARC, by MūL Technologies, is a mobile autonomous robotic cart that provides just the right balance of sophistication and simplicity to deliver not only efficiency to your workflow but also simplicity to your process of automating. Because it also balances capability with affordability, MARC can make it easy for your workplace to transition into automation. To explore how your workflows can benefit from greater efficiency with MARC — or to get started right away — contact the MūL Technologies team today.

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