Cooperative robotization, new logistic property
30 years ago, 3PLs began digitizing warehouses with the expansion of WMS (warehouse management system or warehouse management software) and radio frequency terminals. Today, major players in e-commerce such as Amazon or CDCount are shifting into high gear. For them, in the case of all logistics providers, efficiency solutions are needed with the main challenge of reducing the difficulty when limiting repetitive tasks to productivity (especially with respect to loads and internal movements).
The integration of robots in order manufacturing and product storage service seems to be a particularly interesting solution for logistics professionals. It is more appropriate to define these cooperative tools as “cobots”, the contraction of “cooperative robotics”. They follow the operators inside the warehouse, without having to maintain them, and assist them in repetitive and painful tasks. Employees can focus on high value added activities such as choosing the right product – which also avoids human error.
There are other solutions. For example, exoskeletons are enhanced glasses that mechanically optimize the capabilities of operators and transmit information directly to their eyes. By limiting unnecessary movements as much as possible, the combination of these devices reduces the rigor of the work and therefore provides employees productivity while improving the quality of their services. Additional benefits for logistics professionals who need candidates for order making, yet in the middle of the warehouse.
Real time: Always close with connected warehouse
Connected warehouses or “smart buildings” rely on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Thanks to sensors or beacons, machines, trolleys, conveyors or drones can be connected to each other in real time for even greater efficiency. When making inventories very quickly it is possible to verify that the loads have the right pallets and the right preparations. If a man needs a minute to get to a place, the drone or automated inventory solution only takes two seconds.
This information forms the big data of logistics. The multiplication of sensors in warehouses and communication machines makes it possible to know exactly their time and mode of use. It is very much the basis for maintenance attendance management. Be warned before a breakdown occurs. These connected devices support manufacturers in the warehouse and can tell you how many kilometers they have traveled or the number of their catches per minute. All of these technologies make it possible to honestly represent the physical stock in real time.
From radio frequency to vision, increasingly precise methods
Reinforcing manufacturers’ equipment using mirrors and external tools limits the number of defects. The trucks are equipped with cameras and at each stage, everything from building the pallet to placing it in the truck is automatically checked and detected. This exercise makes it possible to handle any conflicts nicely as everything is stored on the image server.
To achieve this result, methods had to be developed. First, there is the paper, then there is the radio frequency. The voice replaced it and takes the picture today. Equipment is also getting lighter: the day before yesterday was heavy and bulky, but today operators are using smartphones, which do not take up any space.
In line with the technical developments required to secure the functionality
For a logistics provider, these tools can be used internally and externally.
In an organization, they play a major role on the employer brand: a candidate finds it more enjoyable to apply in a structure that works harder and optimizes his work through a smartphone and technology tools facilitate him in everyday tasks.
On the customer side the technology makes it possible to check whenever the requested products are in the right quantity and / or delivered on time. Existing and in high demand in e-commerce. As for the controllers at the end of their manufacture, they can be assigned to other tasks with real added value.
The growth of robotics and connected warehouse has not yet matched performance. To guarantee these new productivity benefits, logistics service providers must support their technological developments with appropriate technical security measures by strengthening their cybersecurity approach. This action protects itself from the interruption of the flow which reduces the smooth running speed of the warehouse.