Sometimes, we see companies with fantastic products – and they fail commercially. Sometimes, we see companies with fantastic products, and they can even solve real problems for real customers – and yet, they fail commercially. Now, there is certainly no shortage of reasons why companies can fail commercially in spite of having fantastic products, and I will not attempt to enumerate and discuss them here. Instead, I would like to highlight only one very specific reason which in my opinion often remains neglected, or even unnoticed altogether: competitors or substitutes that are good enough. Good enough is a very powerful concept. I claim that having a product that is good enough is often preferable to having a product that is superior. Let’s have a look at three examples of products or systems in the warehouse automation industry that are failing to meet commercial expectations through the lenses of “good enough”.
In this article, we want to explore the combination of goods-to-person (GtP) picking systems with zone picking systems. This particular solution design will be discussed in the context of high-performance picking requirements – systems that will have to cope with strong customer demand, i.e., several thousand orderlines per hour. Combining GtP picking with zone picking counts as advanced solution design; it is nothing a warehouse operator should aim for with a warehouse automation provider with no prior experience with that solution design. First, we will look into the reasons as to why you combine these two picking systems (as opposed to just using one). Then, we will discuss control aspects of this solution. Finally, we will explore if there are restrictions with respect to the choice of the specific automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) one would use to power the GtP picking system.