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Believing you can’t even consider implementing robotics until you’ve updated your outdated Warehouse Management System (WMS).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.
CEO and Founder of Prime Robotics