There’s a plethora of automation and material handling equipment (MHE) vendors and choosing the right partner can be a complex and difficult space to navigate.
John Mills, Senior Associate at Prological speaks to MHD Supply Chain News to reveal his top tips for choosing your next MHE partner.
In a warehouse, materials handling equipment (MHE) is of the utmost importance. To a large extent, the efficiency of your facility depends on it. There’s a wide variety of handling equipment on the market and choosing the right MHE partner is integral to running an effective logistics operation. Choosing this equipment wisely will speed up operations, reduce logistics costs and minimise the risk of accidents.
What do I require?
Several factors come into play when choosing a material handling equipment partner for your warehouse. Furthermore, there are some vendors out there who will promise more than what their system is capable of doing by itself. Before making any enquiries, you have got to understand exactly what it is that you require and what exactly you are being sold. There’s no such thing as going into too much detail. The more you understand about the product, and the more you know about what you require and what the expected performance levels are, the quicker and more painless your selection process will be.
Right place, right time
Supply chains are still feeling the full force of today’s turbulent world. Covid-19, slow port turnaround times and ever-increasing fuel prices have led to uncertainty around delivery times and schedules. Time lags or delays are one of the many reasons that hamper the efficiency of the business. Before selecting a supplier, ensure that the party supplying the material equipment has a proven track record of providing the delivery on time.
When you are selecting your equipment partner, the first question you want to ask your vendors is ‘what methods do you have in place to ensure that delivery schedules are met?’ Do they have contingency plans for delays and will they work with your business to plan to reduce the impact of global shipping delays.
History and reputation
Do you know the history and reputation of your partner? When you’re starting a new relationship with a vendor, you want to know as much as you can about the business. The reliability of the suppliers can be easily determined by the years of experience of the seller. An experienced supplier will readily understand your requirements and provide you with the best advice to buy your materials handling equipment.
We all want to work with a reputable company, so why not request three-to-five references from clients they have previously worked with from similar industries before making your decision? You may decide not to contact them, but if your potential partner is happy for you to talk to them, then you can be confident they are a trusted and efficient vendor.
Put sustainability at the heart of your decision
A lot of companies are looking for sustainability to be in the DNA of their MHE partner. Companies want to deal with businesses that share their values and ensure this attitude is passing down through the supply chain.
Ignoring sustainability responsibilities is no longer an option. Making sure your partners are environmentally conscious and adapting their businesses to meet the needs of the environment will go a long way to building trust and customer loyalty from your own clients.
Investing in local, creates a strong community and only serves to improve your reputation in your area. You will know the conditions your equipment is built in, and you will have more end-to-end visibility with your MHE partner being nearby.
Prological is proud to support its local industry. If a company is making their products here in New South Wales, Australia, or Auckland, New Zealand, and if they’re equal with anywhere else, we always opt to support the local business. We believe in creating jobs for local people, investing in local businesses, and providing opportunities for people we may know.
Commitment to innovation
It is always good to ask your potential partner about how they remain agile and utilise the latest innovations. So, what’s the latest technology? And what’s their latest innovation?
Keep in mind the regularity and complexity of software upgrades. There are always improvements in software, particularly with some of the very complex conveyor and materials handling systems, so you want to make sure you are getting the best and most up to date software from the vendors and any upgrades that they’re doing are in line with your innovation aims.
Take your time
Buying MHE can be a lengthy and complex decision-making process. When selecting the right partner, you must ensure they understand your needs and can guarantee consistent and coherent communication. Your future MHE partner should have the expertise and time to invest in providing a solution for your business, and they should have demonstrable pedigree of providing value added solutions to similar businesses.