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Innovation and Automation in Warehouses: why you should bother.

Posted by Bojan Šneberger on Mar 27, 2018 12:04:00 PM
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Automated warehouses are popping out more and more often. But why?

Safer, faster, better.It’s true.

Current technology and robots are already in the state where they can fully replace manual labour. However, since a machine’s processor in certain aspects still cannot compete with the human brain, operators still continue to rely on manpower, i.e. for maintenance or the reading of hand-written labels. At least for now. This will most probably change in the coming decade with advancement in the area of artificial intelligence and augmented reality. It will lead to a shift in warehouses where entire process could be automated.

A counteraction to current demographic trends.

Our society’s demographic structure is changing, we are over-aging. The pool of young, strong manual labourer’s will become increasingly competitive and in order to not only stay relevant for the market, but also to simply sustain function, automation is the only logical step. McKinsey and Company estimates that roughly half of all manual activities around the globe can potentially be automated.

Let’s take the jump.

Automation will be key in making the venture successful. The true value of automation lies in three areas: visibility, accuracy and productivity.

Creating a “smart” operation.

One cannot talk about automation without mentioning IoT and Big Data, the two are inseparably interlinked. Automated solutions are connected via IoT and thus create Big Data. Transforming Big Data into information that can actually have an impact on physical action is what takes automation to the next level. Via the cloud and statistical analytics, machines suddenly become devices that can have a real impact on the actions of internal stakeholders, i.e. maintenance and troubleshooting, but also quality insurance, sales and product development. The opportunities are endless and depend on functionality.

To ensure the successful implementation of automated services, a couple of steps are necessary. Sadly enough, it is not as easy as simply buying the robot.

  1. GET THE DEVICE. Well, obviously, actually buying the shuttle, sorter or picking robot is still a good start.
  2. GET THE STORAGE. Automated devices produce a lot of data on processes, that may be handled quantity of cells, colour of items or frequency. This will have to be stored somewhere –  and the cloud is a preferred solution, since it allows access to real-time information that can be translated into physical actions across the supply chain.
  3. GET THE GUI. A simple and comprehensive graphic user interface forms the link between human and machine.
  4. GET THE PEOPLE. As a fresh robot-owner and new cloud-user, employing the expertise of IT services is what transforms the uncountable cog wheels and levers into a competitive advantage. Accessing the experience of somebody who has done “this” before ensures a smooth transition.

So, in essence, you’re going to need some new code. Coincidentally, writing code is something that we’re really good at.

Topics: intralogistics, digital transformation

AUTOMATED WAREHOUSE SYSTEMS

In warehouse automation, most of the "heavy-lifting" is done ahead - resulting in and effective and efficient automated warehouse systems. At Comtrade Digital Services we are fully equipped to help our clients develop and implement various elements of warehouse automation systems.

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