There’s never been a more dire need for optimising, automating, integrating and managing logistical flow. eCommerce growth in 2017 has grown to AU$32 billion, and with the long awaited launch of Amazon in Australia, is only set to grow more.
Businesses around Australia need to ensure their warehouses, fulfilment centres and distribution centres all remain slick and finely tuned. It’s become a game of seconds in warehouse management, and every day new technology solutions claim to be the latest innovation in intralogistics. Below we’ve researched into four solutions that are leading the efficiency charge and are optimising warehouse floors across the globe.
1. Dematic’s voice activated technology
If you think of voice activation technologies as living solely in the realm of science fiction stories, the emergence of smart devices will see the art of the voice command hurtle drastically into reality in 2018 without any remorse. Voice activated technologies are gradually becoming mainstream as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexia are accustomising users to the idea of telling their smart watch to remind them to call their mum.
The great thing about the proliferation of voice activated technologies is that they also transfer over to the world of intralogistics seamlessly without hours of training or hefty manuals. Pick-to-voice systems can be designed for a range of different warehouses and have been shown to increase productivity, accuracy and flexibility because they remove a lot of the manual processes involved with picking and packing.
Dematic upgraded DKSH’s distribution centres (DC) with voice technology hardware and VoiceLink: an open-source technology architecture that drives process improvements in warehouses and operations. DKSH found the combination of these technologies made the lives of their employees easier because instructions to and responses from the picker are done entirely by voice. Processes become more streamlined because pickers no longer need to stop and enter in manual data which can be very time consuming for a business.
Checkout the video below on Dematic’s voice directed picking technologies. There are also a range of other pick-to-voice solutions available from Bastian Solutions, Lucas Systems and RFBS to name just a few if you’re on the look-out for these technologies.
2. Made to order warehouse management software with Knapp
The amount of choice facing businesses today when it comes to choosing a software solution has its pros and cons. On one hand, it’s definitely a buyer’s market where those on the hunt for the best solution really do have the pick of the crop. But on the other hand, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and incredibly anxious by the choice and variety that’s now available.
There are many factors involved in the final decision as well. How quickly do you need the software? How complex are your requirements? How many employees need to be proficient in using it? All of these are important questions to ask but for brevity’s sake, we’re only going to focus on the benefits of bespoke solutions here.
If you decide that bespoke is the way to go for your warehouse, it’s important to factor in two important requirements: efficient organisation and intelligent management. There should be a range of software providers that offer this, but in this section we’ll look at the software developed by Knapp – KiSoft.
KiSoft is an all-in-one, made-to-order software solution for warehouse management, and the great thing about it is that Knapp has been able to pool together their years of experience and expertise in WMS into one software package. KiSoft plans, monitors, controls and optimises processes across the whole warehouse from goods-in to internal processes. You want to make sure that your software provider knows all about warehouse processes when they’re building your solution, and Knapp certainly has a firm understanding of warehouse management.
Knapps’ software integrates well into any kind of warehouse and can be made to feature different requirements depending on your set-up. For example: if your warehouse does picking manually, their software can include radiofrequency technology to assist with efficiency and productivity.
3. Matrixx® IIoT Intelligent LED Lighting Platform
If you didn’t already know, lighting is experiencing massive digital transformation. In the home, it’s now possible to turn your lights on and off with one click of an app (or even through voice command), and in business, the impact may not be as glamourous but it’s certainly a worthwhile investment.
When it comes to traditional lighting set-ups in warehouses, it’s easy to cut corners with a cheap system that delivers minimal energy savings, but for the volume of lighting required in some warehouses it seems almost counterintuitive to use a system that is not only inefficient, but needs to be replaced every three or four years.
LED lighting has hit the market to respond to this, and they’re not only more efficient than standard lighting systems, they are able to connect, collect and communicate data and can intelligently manage differing requirements and energy consumption through the day.
Vivid Industrial has created an impressive intelligent lighting platform known as Matrixx®, and according to their Head of Business and Development Strategy, Sam Redmond, the platform can reduce lighting energy costs by up to 90%.
Sam states: “With the Matrixx® platform, service life is indefinite because the entire system and all its components are serviceable, maintainable and replaceable - which is in stark contrast to all other industrial LED lights where component failure requires replacement of the entire fixture.”
According to Vivid Industrial, Matrixx® is the only lighting system that is capable of understanding and adapting to its environment in real-time, a key feature you should consider when looking into upgrading your lighting system.
4. KUKA Robotics and Swisslog as a case study for warehouse success
Industrial robots have been at the heart of manufacturing and warehousing since they were first introduced in 1938, but most of the exciting innovation in this area has occurred in the last few years. We recently wrote about the arm’s race that was started when Amazon bought the Kiva robot company, and we are only now beginning to catch up as a range of robotics companies like I am Robotics and Locus Robotics level the Amazon playing field.
KUKA has been around since 1898, but they made their first mark in intralogistics when they built the first ever welding gripper in 1938. Since then, KUKA has built robots of all shapes and sizes for a range of different purposes (fun fact: The QUANTEC is said to be the most versatile KUKA robot. It has a payload of 90 to 210kg, and a reach of 3,100mm). Check out how KUKA Robotics the astonishing evolution of their robots below:
Today, KUKA Robotics is still churning our innovative products that are transforming intralogistics but they really set the bar high when they developed a range of solutions for Swisslog to help them optimise their logistics operations. Their secret? Automation.
KUKA set Swisslog up with their automated intralogistics system created specifically for optimum productivity in the retail sector. Essentially it’s an all-in-one solution that offers storage and buffering, conveying and transportation, and automatic picking solutions and principles.
This is a great example of how streamlined best practice for intralogistics is becoming, and provides an accurate forecast for future solutions in warehouse automation. Why look at one single picking solution when you can transform your whole warehouse into an incredibly lean, automated machine?
We hope you enjoyed this breakdown of the up and coming technologies for supply chain management and automation. We're proud to announce that all of these innovations come from businesses that are exhibiting at CeMAT AUSTRALIA in 2018. If you would like to join them or find out more, simply download the sponsorship opportunities brochure here.