Marina owners in the position to develop or redevelop their marina tend to be hesitant to consider automated storage over the traditional forklift storage method. Forklift storage is the better-known, cheaper option compared to automation, but lacks the reliability and efficiency offered by automation.

This article will cover several of the common myths regarding automated storage and retrieval systems in an effort to demystify this modern marina storage technology.

Myth: Automation takes jobs away

A common misconception about automated systems is that it virtually eliminates all previous human job functions. In reality, the only job truly obsolete with automated dry-stack systems is the forklift operator. Other operations-focused positions can be reallocated to customer service, concierge, maintenance and tech support.

In the long run, this is actually a more profitable, lower-risk model because marina owners will see a reduction in personnel costs along with not having to depend entirely on their forklift operator to keep the marina up and running.

Myth: It’s easy to find and keep skilled forklift operators

Finding a good forklift operator is relatively easy, but finding and keeping a great forklift operator can prove to be more of a challenge. Forklift storage and retrieval is a high-risk occupation, not only for the operator, but also because of the potential for equipment malfunction that could cause damage to the boats and the storage facility.

This position requires the most highly skilled, reliable and conscientious forklift operators who are dedicated to maintaining the safest, most efficient environment possible. However, a marina owner may not be able to afford the elevated personnel costs and operating costs associated with hiring the “best of the best,” which could lead to a higher employee turnover rate and more crucially, a marina that cannot operate efficiently.

Myth: Automated systems are a hassle to maintain and repair

The reliability of these automated dry-stack systems are so great that marina owners can expect less than 1% downtime due to maintenance and repair. This is a result of the intelligent engineering of this technology. For example, though this technology is primarily electric, it is also capable of solar operation in the event of a power outage. Additionally, these systems are maintained through pre-scheduled maintenance and system checks on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis and a recommended spare parts package kept on-site in the event of unforeseen malfunctions.

Myth: Automation is not worth the mindset shift

Many marina owners looking to develop a new facility or redevelop an obsolete facility can be resistant to automation as a solution to increase their operating efficiency because it is still a relatively new technology, especially in the marina storage and retrieval space.

Along with the other myths discussed above, one of the most common assumptions made by marina owners looking to redevelop is that this technology is largely untested and therefore too much of a risk to adapt at their marina.

Gulf Star Marina is the world’s first fully automated marina and a perfect example of the payoff – in both profitability and efficiency – that comes after the “leap of faith” into the world of automation. What started out as a pre-engineered metal building equipped with forklifts for boat storage has transformed into a destination for boat owners coming from far and wide. Automation has made it possible to nearly double the amount of boats stored in this facility without increasing the footprint, simultaneously lowering personnel and operational costs, risk of damage and maximizing profitability.

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