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A New Approach To Minimizing Downtime In Highly Automated Operations

Facilities throughout the supply chain are increasingly installing large scale automation process and handling technologies that require readily available routine maintenance supplies and spare parts inventory to avoid costly downtime. Automated systems and technologies, long deployed by manufacturing facilities, are now moving further into the supply chain to support distribution and fulfillment operations. Investment in these systems shows no signs of slowing.

With expanding, multi-million-dollar investments in large-scale automation systems -- conveyors, sorters, palletizers, robotics, case erectors and sealers, packaging equipment and more -- comes substantially greater emphasis on keeping everything running at peak levels of productivity. Ensuring an automated facility's maintenance and repair operations (MRO) are properly equipped with routine preventive maintenance supplies, tools and critical spare parts is essential to ensuring system uptime.

The shutdown of an automated system, whether scheduled for routine preventive maintenance activities or unexpected due to a faulty or defective component that must be replaced is costly. Careful consideration of the areas of potential cost -- labor cost, lost revenue or service costs -- and losses from automated system downtime has more companies evaluating alternative solutions to support in-house MRO practices.

Further, for companies that do designate a storage room or area for MRO supplies, tools and spare parts, the space is usually small. That's because most operations prefer to allocate valuable square footage for profit-generating purposes, rather than facilities support.

As an alternative, small-scale automated storage and retrieval systems can provide highly dense storage in an extremely compact footprint for a fraction of the dollars invested in the large-scale automation equipment it supports -- particularly when considering the costs of operational downtime. Three primary types of automated storage and retrieval systems include: vertical carousels, vertical lift modules (VLMs) and horizontal carousels.

Highly automated facilities that implement small-scale automated storage and retrieval systems to support MRO activities will benefit in a variety of areas:

Automated storage and retrieval systems support MRO activities in a small, compact footprint. Keeping these supplies on hand can reduce downtime in highly automated facilities. Parts are more organized, protected and traced throughout the facility. This new approach can save time and money in your operations.

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Kardex Remstar

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