New academic online tool launched to help reduce warehouse pressures


Maturity modelling academics at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) have helped develop a new online tool to ensure warehouse and logistics providers, manufacturers and retailers identify where automation will have the most impact across capacity, performance, costs and risk management.

The Warehouse Automation Maturity Assessment Tool has been created in collaboration with process improvement experts from Breathe Technologies, which provides software and systems to businesses such as GXO, Pets At Home, QVC and Ultimate Products Global Sourcing.

Combining MMU’s academic knowledge with real-world best practice benchmarking from Breathe Technologies, the tool identifies key areas of warehouse friction and offers valuable insight into what automation solutions can be implemented to reduce it.

Following the festive peak, its launch aims to help warehouse and logistics businesses, manufacturers and retailers understand what incremental software and systems improvements will deliver the most impact in the shortest timeframe.

Users are guided through a series of questions which explore eight dimensions of warehouse operations including errors and delays, the extent of manual processes, visibility over key data and integration between systems.

The Warehouse Automation Maturity Assessment Tool then provides a tailored assessment that benchmarks the user against industry best practice and provides insight into where automation could quickly optimise processes, reduce costs, improve working conditions and manage risk.

Professor Paul Smith from Manchester Metropolitan University said: “Warehouse and logistics providers, manufacturers and retailers have just been through a year like no other. Soaring demand and labour shortages puts the focus on how to deliver operational, HR and service gains ahead of future peaks.

“As we take stock of the previous year, there’s a window of opportunity to identify what automation technology can be implemented quickly to increase capacity, improve performance and avoid spiralling labour costs.

“This online maturity assessment tool has been designed using expert insight from Breathe Technologies to help benchmark where warehouse and logistics operations sits and identify where best to target improvement.

“I’m sure it will prove useful and ultimately the findings will help us discover trends that shape the ongoing development of best practice and technical solutions.”

Claire Umney, Managing Director at Breathe Technologies, said: “These sectors are under increasing pressure to meet sky high demand and performance expectations whilst managing through supply chain issues, labour availability challenges and wage inflation.

“Everyone knows automation can help tackle these issues by reducing friction but identifying which solutions will deliver the most impact and ROI in your operations is less obvious.

“The Warehouse Automation Maturity Assessment Tool brings an academic and practical focus to identifying incremental enhancement and the best route forward.

“Users also have the opportunity to discuss their confidential report with warehouse automation experts to look at real-world implementation and immediate actions.”