Where is our industry going in 2023?
With a recession looming overhead for more than a year now, many facility operators find that outsourcing tasks proves to be more efficient and less risky than upgrading “in-house.” Traditionally, 3PLs (third-party logistics) have been used to get a system up and running. In the past year, though, we have seen 3PLs used more frequently for a variety of tasks. Let’s look at a few ways that facility operators are using 3PLs to maximize their throughput in the shadow of a recession.
In the past year, we have seen a heightened usage of robots in our partner facilities. There could be many reasons for this, but the most common, and most intriguing reason is the low daily attendance percentage. With a large percentage of the workforce not being as reliable as they have been in years past a lot of companies are finding themselves understaffed. Many facilities would rather pay the higher cost upfront for a more reliable workforce as opposed to dealing with being understaffed. Alternatively, some robots are used on a monthly or “by the pick” rental basis. Still, the flexibility and guaranteed output make robot usage an attractive option for many during uncertain times.
Though the supply chain is far from “back to normal”, the chaos of getting controls devices seems to have greatly improved. The majority of integrators have remedied this problem in two ways: ordered a very large stock that they can replenish from, or find workarounds. While ordering large stocks may be a temporary solution, many of the creative workarounds will be around long after the supply chain corrects itself.
We’re also seeing a “race to the bottom” when it comes to these devices. Producers are competing on price, often beating the “normal price” before the normal materials increase and they have stock ready to ship.
Reduce Dollar Amount
Like most businesses in just about every industry, the recession has forced distribution facilities to reduce their spending. Before upgrading their facilities, many facility operators are retrofitting their current systems, squeezing every dollar they can from what they already own. Retrofitting can typically be done over long weekends, and there is a lot of risk to it. But partnering with the right team can mitigate that risk and deliver extreme paybacks.
Here’s an example. If your slat sorter is wearing out, you will need a new sorter in the next year or two. However, you can prolong your sorter’s life a bit more by implementing new chains and sprockets. While the maintenance team is conducting their Audit, examine the diverters to see if they are showing wear and determine which parts can be replaced. If you find that a large amount of switches need to be replaced, you will need to get on order early as most of the supplies that have been listed still have a longer than average lead time.
Ready to upgrade? If at any time you would like to upgrade your system, this could be an opportunity to explore the Lafayette Magnetic Sortation switch (LMS). The LMS switch can be used in a new system or, with minor adjustments, can be a drop-in unit to your current Hytrol sortation system. Learn more about the LMS switch here or give us a call at (844) 845-7580.