Distributor and box-builder Synnex has outlined plans to open at least one $25 million automated warehouse in either Melbourne or Sydney by 2006.
Daniel Feldman, marketing manager at Synnex Australia, said the Taiwanese company would start building an automated warehouse next year. Sydney and Melbourne were being considered as locations, with Sydney the most likely contender.
"We're purchasing some property and we are thinking about Melbourne or Sydney," he said. "My personal feeling is it will be Sydney first."
The first warehouse was being budgeted at around $25 million, he said.
Feldman said automated warehousing had already been successfully adopted by Synnex in Taiwan. Locally, urban real estate remained costly, and automation was something the company would invest in to assure its future.
"In today's market, you need to be in tune with what's going on," he said. "For now, having an automated warehouse is not so important to us but within a year it certainly will be."
Many details of the proposal remained to be decided. However, automation in such a warehouse would likely centre on computer-controlled, mechanised picking of goods. Packing would probably still be done by people, Feldman said.
"It's all computer-driven and each bin location will have an address. The computer will identify where the products are," he said.
Feldman said automation would let Synnex deliver more products in the same amount of time.
Synnex had also moved to improve its service in other ways. The company recently concluded a year-long trial using its own delivery trucks instead of couriers, Feldman said.
As a result of that trial, Synnex bought and deployed its own trucks in Sydney and Melbourne. Synnex added Perth and Brisbane and bought four more trucks in recent months, he said.
"The Mazda trucks have a [tray size] of about 3000mm long, 1740mm high and the width of a normal truck," Feldman said. "We still use couriers, but it's more efficient to have our own trucks and we can do more, such as the return authorisation pickup service."
Synnex Australia -- then MITAC Australasia -- opened its head office and first warehouse in Melbourne in 1991. The company grew 25 percent in the last financial year and 100 percent in the previous year, he said.
"The market has simply been soft this year," Feldman said. "It hasn't grown as much as anticipated. But I think next year will be much better."
Local PC maker MITAC Australasia was bought by Taiwan-based distribution giant Synnex Technology International in 1997.