I like to think I’ve sat quietly in the back of enough warehouse automation planning meetings to understand a little bit about the project implementation process. What interests me is how the ‘soft’ skills of PR and communications can support the ‘hard’ expertise it takes to scope, develop, design, build and commission a fully functioning warehouse automation solution.
Let me get to the point. I think the automation industry has a hidden secret; an Achilles’ Heel that has been causing the industry to limp along for years, but an issue that has still not really yet been addressed. While logisticians, design engineers and software experts work together to develop systems of breathtaking sophistication, one aspect of the project continues to get short shrift, often sowing the seeds of long-term issues and a loss of reputation. And that issue is the vital aftersales process.
Study after study – and certainly the experience of sales engineers in the sector – prove that time and time again clients enjoy the expectation of a fully automated warehouse, only to reap the harvest of poor performance and gremlins during the post commissioning period.
Surely this is a huge opportunity for an enlightened automation specialist. Whichever businesses grasp the nettle of the aftersales period – and all of the ensuing communications challenges, will no doubt reap massive rewards. Harnessing more powerful customer communications channels, such as video, newsletters, social media and helplines – will all help to smooth out the often rocky post- implementation period.
PR is often wrongly seen as only good for one thing; producing spurious coverage in the media. But I believe it’s a criminally overlooked tool that can be used by the warehouse automation industry to help solve the issues thrown up during the post-implementation period.