Think Globally, Shop Locally: Choosing Your Material Handling System Integrator
Whether you’re in Atlanta or Madrid, there are benefits to selecting a material handling system integrator with a local presence.
The company you choose to outfit your facility with equipment has a huge impact on how effective the implementation is. Whether you call someone a supplier, vendor, or partner, their location, size, and company culture will greatly impact the quality of material handling solution and service that you will get. Here at Bastian Solutions’ Georgia office, we have been a stalwart presence in the Southeast for many years, partly because of the organization’s talented engineers, but mostly because of our excellent customer service. Whether you are making a small modification to a production line or building a greenfield distribution center, your choice in integrator could determine not only your overall cost, but the adherence to timeline, functionality of the system, and quality of ongoing support.
There are several factors that should be considered when selecting a material handling system provider, whether it’s Bastian or someone else:
No drawing or picture could ever be as effective as visiting a site in person to understand a business operation. The better an integrator understands the operation, the more fine-tuned and successful the solution will be. An effective, long-lasting system design requires a close partnership and ongoing discussions on how it will be implemented. Bastian’s local Atlanta office serves Georgia and the entire Southeast within a short drive, allowing impromptu visits to hone in on the perfect solution. There are 23 Bastian Solutions offices across the globe, providing clients with the experience and resources of a global company, with the quality, service and regional expertise of a local provider.
A mom-and-pop integrator sometimes doesn’t have the horsepower to complete your project to its full potential. That doesn’t mean you need to get lost in a corporate shuffle, though. Bastian Solutions started as a family company (Bill Bastian is still the CEO), but the hundreds of engineers in the company stay closely connected to share best practices from multiple industries. These practices can be applied in new, innovative ways to maximize the effectiveness of material handling technologies, whether they’re the tried-and-true staples or the latest, cutting edge offerings.
Atlanta and its surrounding areas have been distribution hubs to the entire Southeast since the local railroad was constructed in the late 1830s. Naturally, this history has influenced how the local economy has developed to this day, providing Bastian Solutions’ Georgia office with valuable insight from the area’s 100 years of distribution history and experience. Recently, manufacturing has begun to increase across the Southeast as well. To stay ahead of local trends, our Georgia office has leveraged Bastian’s Midwest offices’ experience to become experts in manufacturing industries as well. For example, the automotive industry is rapidly expanding in the Southeast with OEMs like VW (Chattanooga), Kia/Hyundai (LaGrange), Mercedes (Vance), BMW (Spartanburg), and now Toyota/Mazda (Huntsville), as well as the associated Tier I/II suppliers. Bastian’s Detroit office, based in the automotive capital of the world, assisted in early projects, but now the Bastian Georgia team has some of the foremost automotive MHE experts in the country. The manufacturing principles are applied to multiple industries, such as extrusions, fabrication, coatings, and many others throughout Georgia’s growing manufacturing community.
When selecting an integrator, it’s important to ask how the execution team will learn the overall design and operation prior to building anything. A handoff with a thumb drive full of drawings isn’t acceptable. Bastian’s standard practice on most projects is to have the design engineer act as the project manager. With the same person leading both the design and execution, the chances for miscommunication are greatly reduced, delivering a higher quality product in less time. Like in any project, there will be hiccups (stalled deliveries, unforeseen building service interruptions, etc.), but having the design engineer on-site allows for the project to flex more effectively due to his detailed familiarity with how the equipment will fit into the overall operation.
What will your relationship with the integrator look like after the project is complete? Many companies want to burn through as many projects at as many different sites as possible, frequently leaving project sites with unresolved loose ends. Bastian’s focus has always been exceptional customer service that leads to long-lasting relationships with repeat business. We focus on making everything right and continue to support our systems long after they’re implemented. A local expert from Bastian Solution’s Georgia office frequently knows more about a system than a company’s own maintenance department. (Don’t worry, we have an excellent training program, too).
We understand that selecting new vendors can be daunting because there’s uncertainty in what kind of quality and service you will get. Do your due diligence and ask lots of probing questions:
- What other projects have you done?
- What kinds of problems should I anticipate?
- Can I visit one of your other project sites?
The answers to these questions will tell a lot about how the project will go in the future. Take the time to understand the advantages and disadvantages of choosing a large corporation or a smaller, local provider and which makes the most sense for your project. Better yet, find a company like Bastian Solutions that provides the best of both worlds.
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