Perhaps you’re in a position where you’re extremely interested in pursuing freight automation technology but feel concerned your project might fail. Alternatively, maybe you’re in the midst of implementing it and want to do everything possible to get the best return on your investment. Here are some actionable things to do to prevent failure.

Ensure the Workforce Is Ready for Freight Automation

It’ll be difficult or impossible to capitalise on the benefits of freight automation if employees are not well-equipped for the transition. More specifically, they might need employer support for upskilling and continuing education.

When speaking about the digitalisation of the rail sector in 2021, European Union Employment Commissioner Nicolas Schmit said, “Automation and digitalisation can and should create jobs, and often quality jobs. But to transition from one job into another, workers will need to develop the skills to integrate these technologies.”

That sentiment spans beyond the rail industry, though, and can apply to all kinds of freight automation. Employees may need to change entire processes, work with new technologies, and have open minds about doing things differently.

Before implementing new technologies or processes, leaders should allow ample time for making the transition. They should also appoint people within the company who can answer employees’ questions or oversee training programmes. Otherwise, the initiative could fail because workers feel uncomfortable using the new approach or believe they don’t have the necessary knowledge and skills to proceed.

Know Which Factors Are Within Your Control

Before moving ahead with any freight automation project, you must set achievable but challenging targets. Then, understand what is and is not within your control regarding them.

Perhaps you want to improve the percentage of ordered goods that reach your warehouse on time. Bad weather is a factor that could delay a delivery that’s out of your control. However, you might implement an automated reordering system that ensures you never run low on essential goods.

You could also streamline processes by digitising and automating some traditionally manual tasks. Statistics indicate that 15% of carrier invoices contain errors. That problem means the majority of freight companies get overcharged. However, automation can reduce or eliminate that issue. Some automated apps offer instant proof-of-delivery receipts and the ability to capture electronic signatures.

Spend some time identifying the specific benefits you hope to get from freight automation. Then, assess whether the technology exists to make them possible. Even the most advanced tools can’t solve all issues. Your automation project could fail if you don’t understand what might need to change at your company to make the technology have the maximum payoffs.

Run a Trial to Test the Technology

Some freight technology opportunities seem great on paper or during a call with a sales representative, but they fall short in real life. Trials can be excellent for determining whether a given technology would have the outcomes that decision-makers anticipate. Those tests can also give leaders confidence if they’re using emerging technologies, such as drones.

When Pizza Hut ran a drone trial in Israel, those vehicles delivered food to 7,000 additional households that were otherwise outside the restaurant’s service area. That statistic shows how new technologies can help companies expand their profit potential. However, since drones often work without human oversight, it’s essential to verify that they can perform without showing unexpected difficulties.

Elsewhere, a one-month cargo trial performed for FedEx Express explored whether autonomous drones would meet the company’s current and emerging needs. People involved with the test, which occurred in Ireland’s Midwest region, anticipated it would take less than 13 minutes for the autonomous vehicles to make their deliveries.

Regardless of whether you choose drones or some other autonomous freight option, a trial can prevent future failure by setting expectations. Moreover, even if the trial doesn’t get the results you’d expected, that doesn’t mean the technology is definitely not worth using. You may just need to tweak how your company uses it or allow for more time to see the maximum results of your investment.

Get Professional Freight Automation Guidance

Freight automation can be a game-changer, but it’s not a universally appropriate solution. That’s why it makes good business sense to rely on the expertise of people who have assisted clients with similar automation projects in the past.

Those individuals will let you know which of your existing processes are best suited to automation. Alternatively, they might assess how your company operates and say that certain tasks you hoped to automate aren’t good candidates unless you redesign parts of their respective processes first. After all, even the most advanced automation tools can’t fix all the issues of workflows that have several inefficiencies.

People who specialise in automation can also advise you on how to cost-effectively scale the automation later. When some company representatives think about what they hope to achieve with automation, they focus too much on present needs and don’t think about the future enough. They might also fixate on only a few tasks, not realising how that limits automation’s potential. However, the input from automation specialists can help you see what’s necessary to turn your tech aspirations into realities.

Have a Proactive, Forward-Thinking Mindset

It’s unrealistic to hope for a freight automation project that’s wholly free of challenges. However, by following these tips, you can prevent many issues that could cause an automation project to fail. Work hard to anticipate short-term obstacles and see them as learning opportunities. Such an approach can help you overcome difficulties and boost your overall likelihood of success.

Emily Newton, an industrial journalist and Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized.