8 Signs Your Automated System Needs Modernization

Are you operating with outdated equipment and software?

The average age of today’s U.S. warehouses is 34 years old, according to a new study from Modern Materials Handling and Peerless Research Group. Constructed well before the concept of e-commerce ever emerged, these facilities are often equipped with software, systems, and material handling equipment that’s been in place for at least 10 years. Yet the dramatic shift in consumer demands and buying patterns, driven by the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, has made successfully operating with outdated equipment and software much more challenging.

To compensate, however, an organization doesn’t necessarily need to acquire a new, larger facility or invest in the latest automated solution. With bespoke modernization, retrofits, and upgrades of existing equipment and software, a warehouse or fulfillment center can mitigate some of the challenges posed by aging or obsolete systems.

Aren’t sure if your equipment is due for modernization? If you’ve observed one or more of the following eight signs, it probably is.

Modernization Sign Obsolete Parts

1. Obsolete Parts

Some material handling equipment was built to such robust standards that it has outlived the original manufacturer or is no longer supported by them. When you find yourself hunting for key components, spare parts, and other critical equipment on eBay; calling every parts supplier in the country; or getting bids from local machine shops to custom mill a replacement for an essential piece of your machinery, it’s time for a modernization.

Modernization Sign Unsupported Software

2. Unsupported/Outdated Software

Perhaps your operation hasn’t been the best at keeping up with the routine upgrade schedule. Or maybe your original software vendor has been acquired, and the new company no longer supports outdated products. Or you have home-grown software with limited capabilities and no internal administration. Whatever the reason, if you want to expand the capabilities of your existing operation to meet customer expectations, you need to ensure support for your key warehouse management software.

Modernization Sign Missing Information

3. Missing Critical Information

Today’s most efficient facilities leverage real-time data about current workforce and equipment availability based on immediate demands in order to make critical business decisions on the fly. If you cannot access the information you need to make timely, confident, strategic decisions that enhance throughput, productivity, and agility, you should consider a modernization.

Modernization Sign Lack of Business Support

4. Software Limiting Ability to Change with the Times

To remain competitive in today’s consumer-driven market, flexibility and agility are critical advantages. Yet, if your current software system cannot adapt to new needs, support expanded functionality, or scale with your changing business and operational needs, an upgrade will get you back on track.

Modernization Sign Changed Requirements

5. Changed Business Requirements

The equipment and software that was installed 10 or more years ago was optimized for your operational and business needs — at that time. Chances are, your business model, processes, inventory, customer base, or throughput requirements are no longer what they were a decade ago. When existing systems cannot flex or grow with changing needs, consider updating to enhance operational agility.

Modernization Sign Excessive Downtime

6. Excessive Downtime

The world’s most meticulous team of maintenance technicians cannot compensate for repeated errors and faults, unreliable performance, and unwarranted downtime. When routine preventive maintenance is no longer enough to keep your existing equipment running at peak operational capacity — and your costs associated with mechanical failures are spiraling out of control — a modernization will help you reach your performance goals.

Modernization Sign Outdated Controls

7. Undocumented or Outdated Controls

Controls, connectivity options, and communications protocols have evolved tremendously in the past decade. Whether your controls are centralized or decentralized, if they aren’t properly and accurately documented or are no longer supported by the original equipment manufacturer, your material handling equipment won’t be able to keep pace with increased demands. A controls update can rejuvenate your equipment’s operation and responsiveness.

Modernization Sign Staffing Limitations

8. Staffing Limitations

Too many companies rely on their service technicians’ tribal knowledge about how to maintain and repair existing equipment and systems. But many of the most seasoned members of maintenance teams are retiring, and it’s become increasingly difficult to hire and retain qualified, skilled technicians — much less those who are familiar with how to work on older generations of equipment. If the capabilities and experience levels of your current in-house service and repair staff do not match the needs of your existing equipment, a retrofit or upgrade is needed.

With a systems and equipment modernization from viastore SYSTEMS, you’ll be able to extend the useful life of your system to remain competitive without the expense or disruption of a major capital equipment implementation. You’ll also see improved availability, reduced downtime, lower maintenance and energy costs, readily obtainable spare parts, and improved preventive maintenance and remote support.

Ready to revitalize your automated system to meet today’s fulfillment demands? Contact us today at enhancements@viastore.com or call (616) 977-3950 x4185.

MMH Research Brief: Turning Existing Warehouses into Efficient, Optimized Fulfillment Machines