The Cost of a Bad Connection A Drain on Automation Gains

Shari Christofferson, president of Connect, talks about the importance of having a connected network in warehousing and distribution, and the cost of failing to maintain one.

A good connection that links a network of devices, applications and people is “of primary importance,” Christofferson says. Even intermittent failures in the network can have a disastrous effect on a business’s ability to process and distribute goods to customers in an efficient and reliable manner.

Delays add up, Christofferson says. The minutes and seconds lost when a connection is optimal result in people standing around and unable to do the job for which they’re being paid. “Now you’ve produced fewer widgets, made fewer deliveries, and you’re not invoicing your customer for that,” she says.

In an environment of poor connections, productivity suffers. What’s more, it becomes difficult to attract and retain labor when the tools aren’t available to people to do their jobs. The impact is felt at every stage of the supply chain, from the warehouse to the final customer. And the ultimate result is damage to the seller’s reputation, in the eyes of supply chain partners as well as customers. Failures in executing next-day deliveries are common, but supposedly minor glitches can compound to the point where the business is suffering “death from a thousand cuts,” Christofferson says. “Over time, when you promised to do something and [product] doesn’t get there, it’s really crushing.”

Lost opportunity costs are intangible by nature, but possibly the most important ones in the long run. Companies struggle to adopt technology to enable automation and digital transformation, in hopes of being able to do more with less as they grow. Bad connections frustrate those efforts and make it difficult to assess progress toward that goal. “How can you expand if you don’t know where you are now?” Christofferson asks.