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:


  • Do it and do it thoroughly
  • AMH can provide significant savings
  • RFID and self-check improve customer experience but don't necessarily save money
  • Push as much work through the sorter as possible
  • Get staff buy-in
  • Don't leave key decisions to your vendor

Avoid the RFP/RFQ Prociess

  • Work with vendors
  • Study options
  • Make choices
  • Then, get quotes from vendors you are interested in

Figure out your Pay Back

  • How? Take capital costs plus maintenance and then determine how much you need in staff savings to achieve pay back in X years. You pick X.
  • Look for 3-5 years ROI

Going Forward

  • Actively monitor workload after adding sorter and make staffing changes as needed (money doesn't save itself)
  • All new construction projects should include an AMH system
  • Report on both direct ($) and indirect returns on investment
  • Look for new materials handling opportunities with RFID

Slides for the program are attached.