Materials Handling Automation to Reduce Operating Costs

Co-presented this session with Alan Kirk Gray (Darien Library), Gretchen Freeman (Salt Lake County Library) and John Callahan (Palm Beach County Library). Session was sponsored by PLA.

I provided the overview of the materials handling automation market and then each presenter talked about what they learned about how to reduce operating expenses as part of their implementation and operation of an automated materials handling system.

Our key take-aways:

Planning:

Doing Your Due Diligence on an AMH Vendor

Someone recently asked me for suggestions to ask of other libraries when doing your due diligence on an AMH vendor.  I was happy to get that question because too often I think that libraries don't do an adequate job of digging into the experiences of other libraries with vendors. And even when they do, oftentimes the person providing the reference seems to have some incentive to paint a pretty picture rather than giving you the harsh truth.  I guess if they tell you about something that hasn't gone well, it suggests they did something wrong.....  

I try my best to be as honest as I can be about my assessments of vendors and libraries too!  So, if you ask me, you will get an honest answer.  I urge libraries to do the same. No vendor is perfect and no procurement, implementation, migration is either.  Don't be shy about sharing what hasn't worked well or was HAS worked well.  As my therapist used to say....it's all just information.  

Anyway, here's some questions that I recommend you ask about a libraries work with an AMH vendor:

Top Tech Trends in Materials Handling

Infopeople webinar highlighting the trends in materials handling including:

  1. Pricing of AMH systems going down
  2. Quality of AMH systems going up
  3. Automated check-in with sorting becoming standard
  4. Kiosks a hit but still a tad buggy

Lots of info about automated check-in systems, small sorters, advancements in sefl-check-in technology, kiosks and dispensers and new AMH products entering the market.

Label-Less Library Logistics: Implementing Labor-Saving Practices in Massachusetts' High-Volume Resource Sharing System

This article is the culmination of my three year project with the Massachusetts regions as it pertains to their delivery operations. The paper presents important aspects and issues related to the merging of six regional library delivery services in a single statewide system that serves more than 550 libraries, that together circulate more than 15 million items annually throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The purpose of marrying the six distinct systems was to reduce redundancies and incorporate innovative features to improve library processing efficiency. Most libraries are members of one of nine separate shared integrated library systems. The paper covers the background, objectives, benefits, issues, lessons learned, and a successful request for proposal procurement process for this complex project.

Statewide Library Delivery Automated Materials Handling Consultation and Procurement

Assisted with development of RFI/RFP to implement central, automated sort for all Massachusetts regional systems. Assisted with research, RFI and then RFP development, evaluation, and procurement. The project is a follow-up to the delivery evaluation performed in 2008.  

Library Materials Handling and Delivery Consultation

Evaluated materials handling operation including delivery and processing of deliveries at each branch, plus technical services. Provided recommendations for improving efficiency, automating sort, and reducing repetitive steps involved in processing materials. Assisted with planning for new building to house technical services and delivery operations.