Autonomous Devices for Digital Warehousing

Written by Abi Teh Ching Yee, ADLSM

by Abi Teh Ching Yee, ADLSM

Autonomous Devices for Digital Warehousing

Written by Abi Teh Ching Yee, ADLSM

by Abi Teh Ching Yee, ADLSM

by Abi Teh Ching Yee, ADLSM

Today we live in an era where technology is changing at a faster rate. New technologies and tools are coming up to meet our needs. A digital data warehouse is designed with the purpose of improving business decisions by allowing data consolidation, analysis, and reporting at different aggregate levels. It provides a single, comprehensive source of current and historical information.

Autonomous devices Robots, drones, IoT and autonomous vehicles use artificial intelligence to improve interaction with their environment and with humans. Gartner expects more and more autonomous devices to network and collaborate either independently of humans or with human input.

Driverless Vehicles

Technologies employed by driverless vehicles have long been employed by automation providers in order to promote safety. Sensors causing vehicles to slow or respond are standard in AGVs today. However, advancements in route optimization, like Google Maps, suggest a future state of continuous optimization in warehouse automation. Advances are likely in WMS that will provide a basic level of route optimization to better direct automated and non-automated vehicles, whereas WCS providers take this a step further with algorithms in three dimensions that optimize travel through storage grids that allow multiple points of entry/exit, but only for fully automated environments.

The main benefits of Autonomous Vehicles for Warehouse Use are as follows:

• Vehicles work with high levels of autonomy because of dynamic path planning.
• Avoid collision because they can modify their path in real time.
• Redefine optimal path modification to avoid costly investments.

Using Autonomous Robots

1. Reduce Both Direct and Indirect Operating Costs.

The implementation of autonomous robots could primarily drive value by reducing direct and indirect operating costs and increasing revenue potential.

2. Reduce Labour Costs and Increase Productivity

Autonomous robots can work continuously and around the clock without fatigue.

3. Improve Safety Records

Employee safety can be improved in highly hazardous environments, and insurance and injury leave costs can be reduced significantly,” Deloitte notes. In the distribution center, for instance, robots can seamlessly zip past each other, humans, or other moving objects thanks to advanced collision avoidance capabilities, which are processed as quickly as any human can react to potential accidental run-ins.

4. Enable Quick Ramp-ups to Meet Seasonal Demands

Available labor, particularly during peak holiday months, cannot always meet seasonal demands. However, companies can turn to robots to improve operations and meet labor demands. “During the holiday season,” Deloitte reports, “some warehouses have even used robots to quickly train temp workers so that they could add value in as little as two days of training.”

5. Increase Customer Loyalty

When used in material handling or process-centric scenarios, autonomous robots can help reduce errors and improve cycle times in a way that helps to increase customer loyalty and drive sales growth.

6. Allow Humans and Robots to Work Side by Side

Humans can work directly with collaborative robots, according to Deloitte, easily training them with programmable movements and then handling material and sorting packages side by side with them.

7. Create Major Efficiencies

Autonomous robots can test, pick, pack, sort, build, inspect, count, or transport materials of various sizes and weights faster and more efficiently than ever. Drone technology combined with autonomous navigation and artificial intelligence is being used to understand inventory levels and location within warehouses and enabling organizations to move inventory faster throughout the supply chain. The companies investing in aerial robots are also redirecting their staff to handle high-value activities and empowering their teams with rich information, which can then be revisited at any point and time and can be used to make better decisions.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

A thing in the internet of things can be a person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip transponder, an automobile that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure is low or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and is able to transfer data over a network.
Increasingly, organizations in a variety of industries are using IoT to operate more efficiently, better understand customers to deliver enhanced customer service, improve decision-making and increase the value of the business.
There are several advantages of IoT, as follows:

1. Data

The more the information, the easier it is to make the right decision. Knowing what to get from the grocery while you are out, without having to check on your own, not only saves time but is convenient as well.

2. Tracking

The computers keep a track both on the quality and the viability of things at home. Knowing the expiration date of products before one consumes them improves the safety and quality of life. Also, you will never run out of anything when you need it at the last moment.

3. Time

The amount of time saved in monitoring and the number of trips done otherwise would be tremendous.

4. Money

The financial aspect is the best advantage. This technology could replace humans who are in charge of monitoring and maintaining supplies.

Automated Cycle Counting

The warehouse drone can be ordered by the operator to perform automatic inventory checks throughout the facility, accurately identifying inventory input away locations, at the frequency of your choosing. Moving the process of information capture into the air provides on-demand checks of logistics inventories and avoids the time, expense, and risk of using a people lift to access difficult to reach locations within the warehouse.

Using extensive optical sensors, the inventory drone can navigate, identify inventory, determine inventory location, and fly safely in a warehouse environment. The power in the drone inventory management solution lies within the sophisticated software capabilities that provide three-dimensional mapping, navigation, inventory identification, and location accuracy. Indoor flights do not require FAA approval.

Application of Drones

1. Claims and Returns

A customer dissatisfied with a product may no longer have to trek to the post office to return it, or require a truck to come by their home and add to the area’s traffic congestion drones will eventually be dispatched directly to the customer to pick up an unwanted item. Retailers could use heavier duty drones to return entire damaged pallets as well.

2. Store to Customer

The long-term for drone use, as mentioned above, is using them to deliver directly to the customer. Perhaps the customer orders online, or perhaps they visit an in-store location and have their purchase delivered to them at home later that day. We already have the technology and logistics to facilitate same-day delivery, drones will only make that process easier and faster.

Conclusion

As the warehouse environment grows and evolves, humans and robots work alongside each other to efficiently navigate the new automated landscape. As tools and techniques are developed, it’s important to stay well-informed about the continually changing scenery of automation. Warehouse and distribution centers are increasingly becoming automated, using more and more robotics, smart sorting systems, and autonomous vehicles alongside human employees.


References

Evans Distribution Systems. (2017). “Top 10 Features of an Autonomous Warehouse”. Retrieved from https://www.evansdist.com/top-10-features-autonomous-warehouse, accessed 04/03/2019.

Helmi Salleh, ADLSM. (2018). “Autonomous Devices for Digital Warehousing”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/autonomous-devices-digital-warehousing, accessed 04/03/2019.

Kelvin Hoi Kar Wai, DLSM. (2018). “Autonomous Vehicles for Digital Warehousing”. Retrieved from SIPMM: https://sipmm.edu.sg/autonomous-vehicles-digital-warehousing, accessed 04/03/2019.

Patrick Van den Bossche. (2016). “Wearable Technology in the Warehouse”. Retrieved from https://www.supplychain247.com/article/wearable_technology_in_the_warehouse, accessed 04/03/2019.

Rob O’Byrne. (2017). “The Past, Present, and Future of Technology in the Warehouse”. Retrieved from https://www.logisticsbureau.com/the-past-present-and-future-of-technology-in-the-warehouse, accessed 04/03/2019.

Shekar Natarajan. (2016). “Walmart Testing Warehouse Drones to Catalog and Manage Inventory ”. Retrieved from https://www.supplychain247.com/article/walmart_testing_warehouse_drones_to_manage_inventory, accessed 04/03/2019.

Team Operencia. (2018). “Digital Warehousing”.Retrieved from https://operencianmimshyd.wordpress.com/2018/09/15/digital-warehousing, accessed 04/03/2019.

About the Author: Abi Teh Ching Yee has substantive years of experiences in the field of logistics and freight forwarding, specifically in the Food industry. She is a member of the Singapore Institute of Purchasing and Materials Management (SIPMM). Abi holds the Diploma in Logistics and Supply Management (DLSM) from SIPMM Institute. She completed a leadership course, the Advanced Diploma in Logistics and Supply Management (ADLSM), in April 2019 at SIPMM Institute.

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