Automation improves supply chain management

Warehouse operators are turning to automation and technology to improve their operations, according to a new study by Accenture.

The management consulting company tracked the tools that companies are using to minimise costs and achieve greater efficiency across their operations. It found the most common feature of market-leading companies is a willingness to invest in automating processes.

Businesses investing in advanced equipment like automatic pallet wrappers and powered vehicles for moving stock are becoming more efficient than their competition. These companies are almost twice as likely to have recorded growth of more than 20 per cent in the last year.

Leading supply companies are also more likely than their competition to invest in their own processes. Of these top businesses, 66 per cent are looking to invest in their processes in order to improve their supply chains. This involves things like automating, standardising and streamlining the processes used to supply goods.

"Supply chain leaders make extensive use of technology in their operations and show that enhanced agility turns uncertain market conditions into a source of competitive advantage," said Mark Pearson, senior managing director, Accenture Strategy, Operations.

Finally, companies that are succeeding at supply chain management are also providing their own expertise on top of a low-cost service. Combining low costs with high levels of service is a key feature of successful firms.

"The leaders in our study have created supply chains that exceed their expectations by focusing on quality… not just on costs," said Mr Pearson. "They recognise that supply chains are not just about efficiency, but also about creating value and differentiation in the market."

Companies which can automate and improve their processes are likely to stay ahead of their competition in the future, making it very important to have the right equipment in place.