AUTOMATED GUIDED VEHICLES
Client: East Coast Distribution Centers
Business Process Improvement Consulting
A distribution company was faced with growing operational costs and shrinking revenue. After standardizing most internal processes, the company decided to invest in new automated equipment and technology to curb their operating costs. Any potential investment would not only have to be realized soon, but also be a viable option down the road (robust and standardized across company locations).
Identify standard operations and warehouse routings
Develop SOPs for interacting with automated guided vehicles
Develop key performance indicators and reporting cadence
Create playbook for reciprocity at other company sites
At a Glance
The distribution company wanted to use automated equipment previously seen operating in similar manufacturing facilities for other companies. The usage of automated guided vehicles would afford the opportunity to potentially reduce both their manpower costs and accident rate long-term across and most of its facilities. However, the company had never used automated guided vehicles nor, if purchased, knew how to integrate the new technology and ensure compliance to capture their return on investment.
Our approach was to develop and execute a beta-test with key suppliers across several facilities. After researching various vendors and reviewing their capabilities, we selected two vendors along with candidate sites for beta-testing. To understand the challenges faced by the distributor, we worked seamlessly with representatives from the test sites to understand their processes and needs. This included mapping all previously identified processes (start to finish) allowing the team to better understand the current or actual state versus assumed. The team spent time walking through the process steps, conducting time studies, identifying roadblocks and interviewing operational employees.
After identifying probable operations and routings the automated guided vehicles would be able to take over with minimal human interaction, our team continued to work with local stakeholders we began setting up those operations to fully implement the new technology. This included developing a communication plan to all stakeholders, standardized trainings on interacting with the vehicle and working onsite with management ebb and flow of accepting new technology by employees and ensuring compliance.
Once the sites had fully integrated with the automated guided vehicles, we continued to work with management to develop key performance indicators and a reporting cadence to reflect compliance. Additionally, we created a standardized playbook on implementing automated guided vehicles in other facilities within their network.
The deployment of automated guided vehicles into the 3 distribution centers resulted in a standardized application of usage including:
Determining vendor selection for future deployment in other facilities
Determine optimal operations and functions of use
Realize an acceptable return on investment