Automation is changing the paradigms in traditional warehouse operations. Logistics companies across the globe seek for enhancing the order accuracy through the use of material handling (MH) equipment, conveyor systems and robotic automation.
E-commerce as the unseparated bottomline of logistics today also brings a great challenge for more efficient, low-cost delivery processes to distribute the customers’ orders in a timely manner. However, with several thousand orders moving through the distribution channel (especially on peak seasons), some big e-commerce companies still find difficulties in handling the volume of the catalogue and web-based orders.
The outdated conveyor system creates distribution bottlenecks, failure to meet the delivery expectations, incorrect shipping destinations and excessive return costs. Thus, logistics and inventory management automation is an absolute thing that should happen if the logistics, supply chain and e-commerce business want to keep thriving.
Kiva Robots at Amazon
People around the world know how Amazon is predominant in creating the most effective distribution process while also being the role model in revealing the most updated innovation and automation.
Amazon’s warehouses are partially controlled by robots called ‘Kiva’ that automatically carry shelves of products to human workers, who then pick the items to be shipped. The automation helps this giant industry to move towards its goals of delivering packages within 30 minutes.
Reaping many benefits from Kiva robots, Amazon continues seeking for innovations. A contest called ‘Amazon Picking Challenge’ is held to automate the picking process from shelves. A collaboration between Kiva robots and the next picking robot invention will minimise the group of workers in the loop while still maintaining the time and accuracy effectiveness in the future.
Material Handling (MH) in the Patagonia Industry
Ventura is a clothing and accessories retailer based in California, USA. When it realised the challenge to manage its catalogue and web-based orders during peak seasons, Ventura appoints Dematic, a supplier of logistics systems for factories, warehouses, and distribution centers with U.S. offices in Atlanta, to integrate a highly automated modular conveyor system.
Installed within 5 days, the MH new system successfully upgrade the conveyors to an intelligent solution, enabling the sorting system to control the speed of materials flowing. The newly installed system can separate and sort heavier cartons destined to store locations from smaller parcel deliveries to e-commerce and catalogue customers.
The light technology brings about many benefits such as greater order accuracy, lean operating system, greater order visibility, and optimised throughput. Some future automation on warehouse industry such as goods-to-persons automation, automated palletizing, pick-to-light technology, robotic picking and voice-activated order management are expected to be released soon.
Are jobs in logistics and inventory management vulnerable to automation? The answer might be yes, but still, the human workforce is needed to handle important duties like supervising and quality controlling. As automation is fragile to errors and mistakes, human workers are expected to ensure that the robots and machines are on the right track.
Next read: Future-Ready Technologies for Streamlining Supply Chain