Automation is changing the paradigms in traditional warehouse operations. Logistics companies across the globe seek to enhance the order accuracy through the use of material handling equipment, conveyor systems and robotic automation.
E-commerce as the unseparated bottomline of logistics also brings a great challenge for more efficient, low-cost delivery processes to distribute 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The outdated conveyor system creates distribution bottlenecks, failure to meet the delivery expectations, incorrect shipping destinations and excessive return costs. In this case, logistics and inventory management automation is an absolute thing that should be adopted if the logistics, supply chain and e-commerce business want to keep thriving.
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Amazon Robotic Warehouse
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 that automatically carry shelves of products to human workers, who then pick the items to be shipped. The automation helps this giant company to move towards its goals of delivering packages within 30 minutes. As of January 2020, there are approximately 200,000 robots working at the US-based Amazon warehouse.
Reaping many benefits from the automation robots, Amazon continues seeking for innovations. It plans to build a dedicated research and development centre for its robotic business. A contest called ‘Amazon Picking Challenge’ is also held, aiming to automate the picking process from shelves. A collaboration between 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 in the Patagonia Industry
Ventura is a clothing and accessories retailer based in Oxnard, California, USA. When it realised the challenge to manage its catalogue and web-based orders during peak seasons, Ventura appointed 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 material handling new system successfully upgraded 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 in the 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 is 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.
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