Consumers are more demanding than ever. Overnight and two-day shipping are now the expectation, and any business that can offer expedited shipping for free is going to win more customers than their competition.
In fact, according to a recent report by Accenture, 27% of customers abandoned or canceled an order because same-day delivery wasn’t available. With expectations for expedited delivery, heightened order volumes, and an increase in online returns, there are several hurdles that facilities need to overcome to provide the level of service their customers demand.
The key to exceeding customer expectations is to adopt a customer-centric supply chain strategy. Here are the four elements your strategy should include.
Predictability is the best friend of supply chain managers. Demand, customer needs, staff issues, and the twists and turns that can occur during every shift throw wrenches at predictability. Data gives supply chain managers insight into how much productivity they can expect at the end of every day, shift, or even hour. Will the facility meet productivity goals? Will orders be fulfilled in time? The more visibility managers have, the better they are able to prepare and make adjustments to meet everyday benchmarks and major milestones, alike.
Seegrid Palion autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) collect data with every inch they travel. Fleet analytics software tools like Fleet Geek, part of Seegrid Fleet Central software suite, organize these vast amounts of data in an enterprise-wide dashboard view that filters the most important points. A software tool is a key to organizing data because it ensures it is contextual, timely, understandable, and ultimately actionable.
For instance, data can show periods of low utilization. From this information, staff can reprogram Palion AMRs to different functions or shifts to boost fleet output and maximize the return on the investment. Also, the data can help in identifying areas where additional training is needed to increase the adoption of the technology. Material flow is a game of seconds, and the facility that makes the most of those seconds wins.
A customer-driven supply chain strategy must be agile. Take the spring of 2020, for example. The outbreak of the pandemic turned the entire world on its head, and the supply chain took a beating as shopping habits completely changed. The ability to pivot drastically and do so virtually overnight is critical to staying afloat, keeping customers, and possibly winning customers from the competition.
There has been a perpetual peak in demand for more than a year compounded with a labor shortage. Resources are thin, and the stress to deliver is higher than ever. Many facilities are working overtime and still struggling to fulfill orders. An agile supply chain operation will result in a seamless customer experience.
AMRs are an answer to attaining the agile environment needed to keep up with today’s challenging landscape. In material handling, humans can only work so fast, and they have to take breaks. Robots, on the other hand, never tire or get distracted, and they can run 24/7 if need be. It’s best to leave the monotonous tasks to robots who will perform them flawlessly, and humans can perform other, more stimulating critical thinking jobs that add value to the business.
Scalability goes hand-in-hand with agility. The ability to fulfill orders quickly should also be paired with a solution that allows you to grow quickly. When you’re confident in your facility’s ability to fulfill new types of orders, expand inventory, or add new facilities, you can say yes to new opportunities that your customers will enjoy.
Look for an AMR solution that can be programmed easily and added to quickly. Palion AMRs can be programmed with practically zero downtime, and you don’t have to wait for a Seegrid engineer to do it for you. Your own staff can train and retrain an AMR by simply driving it along its new route once. Palion AMRs do not require any additional infrastructure, so they’re not restricted in where they can drive. Adding new mobile robots to your fleet is easy. Whether you are growing your fleet to automate new workflows or expanding into a new facility altogether, Palion AMRs are designed to help you scale efficiently and effectively.
Fulfilling orders should never come at the expense of safety. Time is money in the supply chain business, so there’s a lot of pressure to be as efficient as possible. When human workers are under stressful time constraints, they may cut corners; however, going above the speed limit or adding more cargo to a manually driven forklift can cause accidents that, in the end, slow production in addition to affecting employee safety and product damage.
Additionally, AMRs allow human workers to take on safer jobs than those available on the production floor. An astounding 90% of manually driven forklifts cause at least one injury or fatality in their service life. Driving heavy machinery is an incredibly stressful job, on the mind and the body. The repetitive motions can lead to musculoskeletal injuries, and the stress of the job quickly burns many drivers out.
Palion AMRs are consistent, reliable, and predictable. They’ve driven millions of miles without a single personnel accident. AMRs always stick to their optimal routes and always drive at safe speeds. Palion AMRs see in 3D, meaning they “see” dynamic environments and react to obstacles in their path.
Automation and the Future of the Supply Chain
Taking a customer-centric approach means that you focus on understanding your customers, their needs, and expectations. Today, many supply chains continue to battle demands of delivering faster, better, and for less.
To retain and grow your customer base, it’s crucial to implement the tools and technology that will enable you to deliver an optimal customer experience. With the right automation solution in place, facilities can increase productivity, reduce downtime and accidents, and boost flexibility with a solution that can scale for growth.