Q&A with Alfonso Gallardo from BALYO!
1) Could you please give me a background about you, your career path in the industry, and any notable achievements?
Extensive experience designing dozens of intralogistics mobile robots systems. From as simple as work in progress pallet deliveries to fully automated large warehouses.
Always helping customers define their own robotics journey, improving the cost competitiveness of their operations, safety and risk. Customers start with the first system driven by financial savings and grow into a fully automated forklift-free environment to eliminate the human factor - risk related to managing people dramatically decreases, operating costs drop and logistics metrics improve.
They now have to manage Shift Engineers rather than Shift Managers; an example of de-risking operations and making them more resilient. After a while in the industry, I can confidently say that if I had a 3-4 shift manufacturing facility or warehouse operation, I would be letting humans do what they do best, using the brain, and automate ALL my standard and uniform flows, including storage and retrieval. There is no reason to have a person sitting on a forklift all day long. Especially for high growth facilities that can use that labour for other added value processes.
2) At IntraLogisteX, will you be launching anything new to the market? If 'yes', what is it and why is it a must-have product or a service for the customers? If not, please provide some details about a product/service that showcases your expertise in this sphere? We want anyone who runs a 3 or 4 shift operation to know that they can:
i) Replace their manual Reach and VNA drivers (and costs) with our Storage Mobile Robots. Robots that can lift up to 17 metres high in narrow aisles. Supply Chain and Logistics leaders are having trouble with speed of recruitment, quality, absenteeism, turnaround and headcount cost. There is a better solution for that.
ii) Split the workload. Let the robots perform the pallet transports of 100/200/300+ metres that require long runs, and let humans do added value work like sorting, picking… anything that needs a brain
Last week, I had the “luxury” to see how a manual reach driver squashed a very expensive medical care equipment pallet in between two other pallets, pushing the other two pallets aside. As a provider of Autonomous Reach Robots I had to close my eyes and suggest the customer to study replacing the storage and retrieval operation for precision machines that do not damage finished goods.
3) Can you provide a recent case study that highlights the company's capabilities?
Companies are having trouble i) finding qualified labour to drive their Reach Forklifts ii) retaining them, and iii) getting the right balance between speed and quality.
More and more companies are choosing to automate their Reach and VNA operations. There are dozens of companies out there that can transport a pallet from point to point, but very few that can deliver a pallet into a rack 12 - 17 metres high into a 1.8 metre aisle.
Furthermore, warehouse operations would benefit immensely with Balyo’s technology to handle such a variety of pallets and changing environments, as well as the full range of products to handle all operations: receiving (or end of line in manufacturing), inbound putaways and outbound staging.
Balyo works and partners with the top manufacturing, logistics and 3PL companies to collaboratively design a scalable, profitable and resilient robotics journey that very few can match.
If anyone is thinking about automating their pallet-handling flows with a scientific and systematic approach, they would find a perfect match and satisfactory collaboration with us.
4) How can warehouses stand up to the rate of innovation and changes in consumer behaviour?
Consumers expect integrated, resilient and the best-in-class logistics performance.
It is well known that the quality of forklift drivers in the second and third shift falls dramatically, misplacing pallets, damaging the product and warehouse equipment. We are seeing less and less patience with poor delivery quality caused by upstream stock performance damaging the supplier’s brand. Eliminating the human condition upstream has an incredible impact on downstream metrics, hence on customer satisfaction and reverse logistics costs.
A “simple” decision like replacing all inbound flows, and reorganising the warehouse operations to increase speed of fulfilment can rapidly boost a warehouse’s performance.
5) For all the excitement around automation, most logistics companies have not yet taken the plunge. What needs to change to make that happen? How do we go from circa 5% today to more? Is automation feasible for most?
Many supply chain, logistics, operations and manufacturing leaders go home hoping nothing goes wrong in their operations. “Things” go wrong when there are people involved. It is inevitable. Managing people is difficult. Especially when we are making poorly qualified drivers deliver faster and faster. Managing a population of forklifts in a fast-paced operation is a nightmare, but is a nightmare that we are all used to managing. It’s familiar. Turning a manual operation might sound risky at the beginning. Unfamiliar. Companies that embrace Fork-lifted Mobile Robotics quickly understand that replacing the driver with an automated solution means significantly de-risking their operations, making them more efficient, predictable, resilient and safer. Manufacturing and logistics warehouses need to rely on experienced capable partners like Balyo to guide them into achieving their automation goals. They know their internal processes, we hold the knowledge of what works and how to make it work. It’s a powerful combination.
6) As warehousing automation evolves, there will theoretically be a decrease in demand for low-skilled workers. If this is a concern, how should it be addressed?
Companies have it harder than ever to hire and retail low-skilled workers. The capacity to hire seems to be outpaced by the growing speed. On top of this, new generations, the facebook and google generation don’t see themselves making a living out of driving a forklift. Automating forklift operations solves this problem altogether. It eliminates the labour dependency.
7) Planning for peak season 2022 starts now. What is the next big wave in supply chain technology to alleviate these seasonal pressures? What are your top tips for negotiating these ultra-busy times?
Logistics companies typically increase their labour needs to 25%+ in peak season. Together with the labour challenges, and the rise of ecommerce and warehouse space shortage, there will be a point where labour demand exceeds supply.
It is not a question of “if” but “when”. Warehouses have a choice now. Do they want to plan for this future? Or do they want to find themselves run-over by the imbalance between labour S&D and miss their shipment targets?
8) Many decision-makers are hesitant to invest in a lot of Supply Chain 4.0 technology at once. They’d prefer to see evidence of the positive effects of such spending first. Where is best to take the plunge first? In the case of robotics, our recommendation is for companies to understand how fork-lifted mobile robotics fit in their operations. Where is best to take the plunge first?
In the case of robotics, our recommendation is for companies to understand how fork-lifted mobile robotics fit in their operations.
We call this the robotics journey.
Our recommendation is to start with an operation that represents 75% of the material-handling needs and flows inside their network of warehouses, and build a feasibility study (financial and technical) to understand the use cases for their specific operations. Make it scalable. This is how we help our customers evolve. We have a very knowledgeable and consultative team powered by very strong simulation and support technology that helps us build a feasibility study for an entire warehouse in less than 1 month (at no cost) so that our customers can plan their 3-year transformation from manual to autonomous.
9) How can warehouses reduce their operating cost for 2022 and beyond?
Talk to us and build your robotics journey.
We are seeing in 3 to 4 shift operations achieve a 50-60% cost per pallet touch reduction every with our Storage Mobile Robots.
Logistics and Supply Chain Managers can proudly report the delivery of this huge operating cost metric to their management team.
10) How can a warehouse reduce picking costs without lowering quality?
Fully automate your inbound operations with a mix of autonomous mobile pallet truck robots and reach robots.
This practically eliminates the pallet misplacement in the warehouse, which means that the picking routes are truly optimised to reduce the time a picking operator spends walking or travelling, and maximises the time an operator spends picking.
Translated into accuracy, picking operators will be less tired towards the end of their shifts and make less mistakes. Translated into cost improvements, reducing the average distance travelled by a picker by 25% means you need around 20% less pickers. Another no brainer or low hanging fruit.
11) Which KPIs can warehouse managers target to optimise first?
We recommend warehouse managers to focus on a metric called “cost to serve”.
Using this metric, our customers have spotted and taken action on unprofitable labour intensive flows reducing the cost per pallet transported by 50%+ saving 1.5M+ in 3 years.
I am sharing a link to a tool we created to get started with cost to serve: Cost to serve: more quality, cheaper