What is WMS Paralysis?

Believing you can’t even consider implementing robotics until you’ve updated your outdated Warehouse Management System (WMS).

Waiting to automate is a mistake. I talk with many warehouse operators who lament that although they know they need to get started down the path to automating their warehouse, first they need to complete the tedious and often-lengthy process of updating their WMS. This process may include evaluating multiple WMS vendors, and has been known to take six months to a year (or more).

It may seem logical to think that a robotics implementation will be most effective when integrated with the latest and greatest WMS, but the fact is your success adding robots in your warehouse isn’t dependent on your WMS. Prime Robotics integrates easily with virtually any WMS (however, if yours hasn’t been updated since the eighties, it may prove more challenging).

The sooner you can implement robots the better for your bottom line. Robots will save your company tens of thousands of dollars every month, as operational costs are dramatically reduced. So, it follows that delaying adding robots comes at a high cost.


The costs incurred by waiting are real

Consider that our $9K per month lease package that includes 10 robots and all the accessories and customer support you need can save a warehouse $80K every month the system is in place. You can read more about our $9K Robot Lease Use Case and see the math detailing how warehouse labor costs are nearly cut in half.

It can take an organization a year or more to select a new WMS, and perhaps and another year to roll it out if there are multiple sites. When you consider this, for even a small to midsize operator the opportunity cost of delaying a robotics implementation can exceed $1M if they end up waiting a year or more. When you add the inherent hard costs and challenges that come with recruiting and retaining a warehouse workforce the opportunity cost climbs even higher.

When I talk with operators and tell them it’s pretty straightforward to add robots no matter their WMS, they’re surprised. If your WMS has the ability to set up separate storage locations, then you have the basic logic needed to handle some of your inventory in manual racks and some in the robot shelving.

You can take a phased approach to adding robots, for example if your warehouse is A-B-C stratified, you can start with your highest-turnover inventory first, assigning those SKU’s to the storage area that will be serviced by the robots. Then you can continue rolling robots out across the different areas of your warehouse. You can learn more about our MobileShelf robot implementation here.


Robot implementation for single warehouses

Operators currently using a simple online WMS like Tradegecko or even Quickbooks to manage their inventory can easily use Prime Robotics’ own built-in WMS as their only WMS. For a single warehouse that only needs to keep track of inventory coming in – and then access it for customer orders going out – our WMS included with our Robot Control System (RCS) can handle your needs. Furthermore, our packing station software integrates with carrier software like ShipStation and our Robot Control System can receive orders directly from your Magento instance.

Implementation in a new greenfield warehouse site

If you’re setting up a new greenfield site, it’s typically preferable to implement robots at the same time as your new WMS. This clean implementation approach allows you to apply best business practices at the new site from Day One.

 

Add Robots Now to Boost Your Profitability Fast

It’s clear that robots have a bigger impact on your bottom line than adding a new WMS. While a new WMS may streamline your operations and deliver new functionality you’ve been wanting, it’s unlikely to create the immediate cost savings and huge organizational benefits that robots deliver.

I’m often telling warehouse operators that a robotic automation system – which can be implemented start to finish in about three months – can quickly start generating a cost savings that can fund your new WMS purchase. My advice is to add robots now to increase your profits and out compete those in the market that haven’t leveraged the power of automation yet.

 

-Eric

 

Eric Rongley
CEO and Founder of Prime Robotics
[email protected]

Implementing robots in a warehouse has immense operational benefits, yet misconceptions about robotic automation keep many companies from considering making an investment in robots.

It’s undeniable that an operation that’s automated out-competes a manual operation. We see productivity improve by up to 8x, while at the same time costs are cut in half after implementing robots. Those warehouses that lag in adopting automation will find it hard to survive in a market where competitors are operating at maximum efficiency because their processes have been automated. Automated warehouses will rise to become market leaders.

So, to compete and thrive, the question isn’t whether you should automate, but when. Today robotic automation adoption is still in its early stages. Forward-leaning operations are the first to embrace it. As an early mover, you will have a competitive advantage over companies that are late to the game.

There are some common misconceptions when we talk to operators and ask why they hesitate when it comes to automating their operation. I’d like to debunk these myths now.

5 Common Misconceptions About Robotics

#1  Robots are complex and I need an army of engineers to keep them running.

While AMR-type robots are in less than 4% of warehouses today, the technology is proven and operating successfully in the marketplace today. These robots first automated Amazon’s warehouses more than 8 years ago, and they keep getting better and more reliable. You don’t need a robot expert on staff to have a reliable fleet of robots working in your warehouse.

At Prime Robotics, we remotely monitor every robot at our client sites, and can correct many issues before they become a problem. Our Client Support includes 24/7 access to our experts and comprehensive robot maintenance and repair.

#2  Robots are expensive.

The cost of robots has fallen dramatically due to technology innovation and competitor robot vendors entering the market. Our clients see a Payback in one to two years on their investment in robots. We offer a lease option too, which makes it possible to automate you entire warehouse for $9K a month.

#3  Employees feel threatened by robots, or fear safety problems.

Executives and workers alike can be a little intimidated by the idea of robots at first. We find that once people understand how safely they operate, how they’re able to reduce the physical burden on workers, and that they free workers from tedious picking, that they overcome their apprehension. Adding robots means their business can really grow and they can drive down expense. A growing, more profitable company is a boon for all employees.

#4  I need to upgrade my WMS before I can consider robots.

It’s not essential to have your WMS optimized in order to implement robots in your warehouse. The WMS functions needed to operate Prime Robotics’ robots are straightforward. Any WMS with a RESTFUL API or a SQL based database easily interfaces with our robot control system. Most importantly,  think about how long it’s likely to take to evaluate and ultimately select a new WMS — it takes many organizations a year or more.

When you think of the immediate savings you get from a robotics implementation (Our basic $9K per month warehouse package can save an operator more than $80K a month), it’s clearly preferable to add robots now. Integrating your robots with a newly-purchased WMS down the road is not a complicated process. What you save with robots could end up paying for your new WMS!

#5  I should wait until I open my new warehouse.

When you recognize that an investment in robots starts paying for itself on Day One, you realize you shouldn’t be putting off making the decision to automate. Think of it this way; every month you delay implementing robots you’re losing money. The sooner you implement, the sooner you start accruing those savings.

One reason we frequently hear to justify holding off on automation is that there’s a new warehouse or relocation planned in the future. It might be a new greenfield warehouse that’s a long way from being complete. The fact is our MobileShelf robots actually make a move to a new warehouse location easier. If you’re moving from a manual warehouse, packing trucks with inventory, then restocking shelves at the new site is both time and labor-intensive.

If your current warehouse is automated with a solution like our MobileShelf, it’s easy to move your inventory because it’s already in moveable shelves. Robots can drive all of your shelves onto trucks, and then unload them at the new site and place them directly onto the inventory floor. And since your WMS still knows where every item is on your shelves, you can be up and running right fast with little downtime.

No matter what your operation looks like — whether its 20,000 or 500,000 square feet — adding robots is the single fastest, most cost-effective way to impact your bottom line by dramatically lower operating costs. At Prime Robotics, we’re focused on making robotic automation within reach for virtually every operation.

Robotic Automation is within your reach. 

We have a lease that is $9K/mo.

We’ve created our Make 2021 the Year To Automate package to provide an end-to-end robotic solution as a $9K/mo lease. This package includes 10 of our most popular AMR robots, the MobileShelf, and everything you need to automate your warehouse’s inbounding and picking processes. A worker can make up to 300 picks/hour from a stationary pick station, and this package supports fulfillment of up to 6,000 orders/day. Everything’s included, from planning and implementation to dedicated 24/7 customer support and all robot maintenance. See all that’s included in the Make 2021 the Year to Automate package.

I also recommend you read our 2021 the Year to Automation Use Case that is an implementation of the package in an e-commerce warehouse – the numbers don’t lie. See monthly operations costs drop by $80K while order capacity increases. Read Robotic Automation Package Implementation and Cost Savings Use Case.

I invite you to plan a visit our Denver headquarters to see our fully-functional demo warehouse where our robots operating today. See for yourself how our robots enable top picking speed and higher productivity. Our robots are built here in the U.S. at our headquarters, so you can get a peek at our process.

Please get in touch if you’d like to start a conversation about what’s possible for you in 2021,

-Eric

 

Eric Rongley
CEO and Founder of Prime Robotics
[email protected]