With supply chain issues and labour scarcity, automation holds the key to efficiency savings and enhanced resilience, argues Dave Berridge, Secretary of the Automated Material Handling Systems Association (AMHSA).
Low unemployment and upward pressure on wages from workers facing the effects of high inflation on their household expenditure are making automation a tempting choice for organisations. However, high energy and other costs, mixed with a hefty measure of economic uncertainty and predictions of recession, mean many companies are reluctant to invest. Nevertheless, the outlook is one of cautious optimism for AMHSA members.
There continues to be a desire for increased supply chain resilience, with the pandemic having made many firms realise that they need to be better prepared for potential disruption in the future. With its lower reliance on labour, its capacity to handle peak volumes and its focus on avoiding single points of failure, automation – powered by AI – is an increasingly attractive option. And, with an explosion in the automated technologies available, there are more entry-level solutions that are scalable and relatively simple to install. Along with flexible financing models – such as robotics as a service (RaaS) and software as a service (SaaS) – the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) market is also waking up to the benefits of logistics automation.
Looking back on a busy year
2022 has been another busy year for AMHSA. In addition to our programme of training workshops and networking events to facilitate the sharing of best practice among our 63 members, we participated once again in the IMHX exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham in September. No less than 32 members attended the show, with 9 exhibiting as part of the AMHSA Pavilion and a further 23 located around the event. We also held a successful Autumn Conference and Members’ Meeting in November at AMHSA’s base in the Market Harborough Innovation Centre. In addition, we have continued to support members in recruitment and training through our four-year apprenticeship programme, operated in association with car manufacturer, Toyota.
Plans for 2023
Next year is shaping up to be equally busy. AMHSA is supporting the Inside Warehouse Logistics Exhibition (IWLEX) on 23 and 24 May at Telford International Centre and will be exhibiting at this brand-new show. We are also supporting the Tomorrow’s Warehouse conference at the CBS Arena in Coventry on 8 June and will have a stand at this event too. Come along and meet us!