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Automation increasingly accessible for mid-tier businesses in NZ
Automation increasingly accessible for mid-tier businesses in NZ
17 Nov 2021| News |
550 words
By: Caleb Nicolson, General Manager NZ

Once the exclusive domain of New Zealand’s big name retailers and distributors, innovation within the sector has seen automation become increasingly accessible to smaller and emerging businesses. Reduced costs and more automation providers in the market has meant greater choice and in turn, improved accessibility for smaller players looking to automate. 

Access to automation can have a transformative effect for businesses. From improving productivity, combating labour shortages, increasing efficiencies and meeting customer demand and expectation for goods to be delivered more rapidly. Awareness of these benefits has resulted in rapid growth of the warehouse automation sector, with Reports and Data last year reporting that the global logistics automation market is set to reach $120 billion USD by 2026.  

Despite automation’s global growth, mid-tier businesses in New Zealand have been slow to embrace automation, with the upfront initial investment viewed as a deterrent for many.  Automation has been viewed as a luxury and uptake has historically been limited to those household names such as the Warehouse and Woolworths who have the capital to invest upfront in large scale automated warehouses.  

It’s a common misconception and in reality, with an investment of around 10-15 million, a mid-tier business can fully or partially automate, dramatically transforming their operational capacity. Competitor advantage, an increase in productivity, output and returns as well as reducing lead times to customers are just some of the potential benefits on offer for those who incorporate automation solutions within their supply chains.

We have seen a marked increase in companies seeking automation advice over the last 12 months. However, many businesses remain hesitant around costs, with some businesses believing they must spend over and above to incorporate automation solutions within their supply chains.  

That’s not always the case. Within the New Zealand market, there are a number of mid-tier companies who have successfully and prudently embraced automation. Coolpak, a cool storage facility based in the South Island, is one such example of a mid-tier business harnessing automation gains.

Over the past six months TMX have worked with Coolpak to design more automation in their facilities in the South Island. Following a competitive tender phase led by TMX, Coolpak, appointed ScottPHS, who in partnership with Italian based AutoMHA, will implement the automation design, a significant milestone for Coolpak. This will enable Coolpak to scale up their operations to service their growing customer base in New Zealand. In monetary terms, the upfront investment made by Coolpak was one that is within reach for other mid-tier businesses. 

Seeking independent automation advice is a critical first step for businesses considering whether to invest in automation. Many businesses we work with are surprised to find out there are a range of automation solutions available, from full spectrum automation to specific aspects of the supply chain. Costs are accessible, and there is a growing trend of innovative financing options available, with some developers helping to fund automation solutions. Once implemented, costs are quickly recouped.

Investment in automation has the potential to pay big dividends for mid-tier businesses willing to take the leap. Automation costs are no longer exorbitant and the return on investment speaks for itself. To remain competitive, keep up with customer demand and boost productivity, automation is an accessible and achievable solution and should be seriously considered by mid-tier businesses across New Zealand.   

Caleb Nicolson, General Manager NZ
Caleb has over 20 years of experience in supply chain and retail. He was part of the Executive Team at the largest outdoor apparel and equipment retailer in Australasia for 12 years.
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