Why the FMCG industry must automate further to survive

As market demands continue to change, so must the supply chain. In fact, today’s factory floor is vitally different to the one of even twenty years ago, with high-speed conveyors, cobot arms and other automation technology that complete processes faster and more accurately than manual labor.

And while large internationals within FMCG such as P&G, CocaCola & Unilever (to name a few) have seen success from their automation practices, businesses must keep innovating in order to compete better. Here’s why:

Adaptability

It was back in 2011 that Harvard Business Review announced that adaptability was the new competitive advantage. Now, with the constant pressure on the FMCG industry to keep production high and costs low, while consumer and market demands fluctuate, adaptability is no longer an advantage, but a necessity for survival. By implementing the latest automation technology, like autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), manufacturers can reduce costly and time-consuming manual transportation, supporting a lean approach and increasing adaptability. Unlike AGVS, all MiR AMRs employ a sophisticated mix of sensors, cameras and data to autonomously determine the most efficient route, and move out of the way of obstacles.

Cost optimization

The pressure to keep costs low but quality high is not going anywhere. Couple this with foreign competition, tariff uncertainty and labor skill gaps, and the FMCG industry finds itself in an uncomfortable position. However, AMR can help by replacing inefficient manual processes with efficient, autonomous production process. Not only does this reduce production bottlenecks and delays caused by human error, it also helps manufactures combat worker shortages, by allowing skilled workers to complete value adding, complex tasks instead of manual transportation. Creating a safer environment with the world-class MiR AMRs means that costs can also be saved by reducing lost workdays and fines due to workplace injuries. By combining human skill with robotic reliability and autonomy, FMCG businesses can achieve the optimal model for manufacturing success.

Increased uptime

Unlike AGVs, AMRs rely largely on onboard sensors and cameras to operate—and not wires or magnetic tape. Refitting the factory floor is, therefore, not needed, limiting the downtime that can occur when implementing other technology. MiR AMRs also have an intuitive interface, making the robots easy to set up and use, resulting in a very quick implementation. But the MiR robots offer time saving in other ways too. Firstly, a fleet of autonomous mobile robots can work around the clock, ensuring a steady material flow. Rather than stopping in the face of an obstacle – like an AGV would - they can calculate alternative routes without distrupting the workflow. What’s more MiR AMRs can be switched to perform new tasks with relative ease, increasing uptime.

 

Industry success

With all this in mind, it’s understandable that the latest industry findings show that by 2021, 58% of FMCG companies will use AMR to optimize internal logistics. By 2024, this number looks set to hit 79%.

Read the full Industry in the time of robots report here

 

Get inspiration for how to solve the logistics challenges in the FMCG industry