Automation costs a lot. But a high initial price tag doesn't mean it's a bad investment. It's not about the price, but about the return on investment (ROI). What costs do you avoid and how does the new automation affect efficiency and quality? Questions like these need answers before you put your energy into getting the price tag down.
Work with an automation partner who can demonstrate profitability and calculate ROI. This justifies an investment and facilitates a decision. It is (usually) quicker to recoup an investment than many first think.
Automating an entire flow requires huge steps. Some steps may even be better (and cheaper) to continue to manage manually. There is no point in doing more than necessary.
Find out which steps can be automated and what impact this would have. Apply the 80/20 rule (Pareto principle); automating 20% of the flow gives 80% of the result. Find key moments and start small. It is always possible to develop, adjust and build on the journey.
Offering your customers an optimal flow for their products or requests is of course important. Maybe even crucial - but at what cost? Investing in automation for a customer-specific flow can be very expensive. If the customer doesn't have time to wait or has already started looking for a new logistics provider, you are in a bad situation.
You don't want to end up with a heavy investment that suddenly doesn't pay off. Try to find solutions that can be used for multiple customers. If you still have to be customer-specific, be clear that it's a long-term approach from both sides. A longer agreement can provide the right security for both parties.
Is there a flow or a step that is not working properly? Automation is not a quick fix. Of course, it's smart to dig in, and sometimes that can be the right way to go - but don't be afraid to rethink and innovate.
Starting from scratch can be the best way to move away from old problems and towards more profitable production. An experienced automation partner can bring fresh air and a new perspective.