Numina Group Blog

Pack & Ship Automation – Moving From Customization to Configuration

February 13, 2023

In our last blog, we reproached traditional integrators for making the design, implementation, and support process for automated pack-and-ship solutions needlessly complex and cost prohibitive.

We have formed this opinion because of the lessons learned from deploying 200+ pack-and-ship solutions over the years. Our frustration stemmed from the lack of innovation and productization in a category that so desperately needs it.

Fundamentally, we understand that an operation can only achieve its business and financial goals when there is a symbiosis between each of the three outbound fulfillment processes (picking, packing, & shipping).

With that principle in mind, we have recognized an imbalance between the number of picking automation options vs packing & shipping automation options available in the marketplace.

It is an easy exercise to list out the several types of picking automation solutions.

To name a few, an operation could choose from: RF, pick-to-light, voice, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), pick modules, goods-to-person (G2P) robotics, shuttle systems, horizontal/vertical carousels, batch picking to automated unit sortation, cubed AS/RS etc.

Within each of these categories, you have countless vendors who have approached the design of their solutions with slight variations that cater to certain requirements.

When choosing both a picking methodology + a vendor, you are presented with seemingly unlimited combinations of picking automation solutions.

But when it comes to pack & ship, how many different automated solutions can you name? 

Better yet, how many different automated pack + ship solutions can you name that would be applicable for the size and structure of your fulfillment operation? Taking that one step further, how many affordable solutions can you name that satisfy your design criteria?

To start better answering these questions, automation vendors need to move away from customization and towards configuration. Our launch of Pakt™ is in response to the disproportionate number of productized solutions for picking vs packing & shipping, as well as the overwhelming bottleneck that exists in operations when orders are dropped at packout. 

Why does productization matter for pack-and-ship solutions? 
  • Rapid Deployment
    • As a function of productizing a pack/ship solution for warehouse operations, we will continuously decrease the time and cost it takes to deploy Pakt. In today’s market conditions, time-to-value is as critical as any other decision criteria.
  • Automatic Updates
    • No longer is it acceptable to have static solution design that only solves the business problems of today. To continually meet changing operational requirements, our pack + ship software can be cloud-based while hitting the real-time expectations that are involved in warehouse control software.
  • Economies of Scale
    • Through productization, we unlock reusability in hardware, software and analytics and will continue to find economies of scale in the cost to service our customers. The reduction that we see in the cost of goods allows for this type of technology to be available to the masses.
  • Automation as a Service
    • It is critical that we align our pricing and commercial terms to our customers’ different financial circumstances. By offering both an OPEX and a CAPEX model, we can remove one more barrier to entry to this type of automation.
  • Standardization
    • Customizations will no longer be specific to any one customer’s solution, the development we do to drive performance & capabilities for one customer will be available to all customers. This allows us to drive year over year continuous improvement to our entire client base from both a software, analytics, and reliability perspective.
  • Contemporary Integration
    • By having standard, pre-built APIs we decrease the time to integrate into existing host systems (ERP/WMS/TMS) and can re-use integrations across environments.

We recognize the tradeoff between configuration and customization. But seeing the advantages that standardization brings to our clients and the industry at large, it is clearly the direction that we need to go as warehouse automation providers

Using these topics as our guiding light, we will synthesize the complexity of pack and ship automation into one consumable, dependable, high-performing technology product called Pakt.

Ready to learn more? Contact the Numina Group today. 
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