CeMAT Insider

Achieving logistics automation with robotics

Posted by CeMAT Team on 25-Feb-2016 16:03:11


“Robots” are revolutionising the way we think about and administer business processes, IT support processes, workflow processes, remote infrastructure and back-office work. 

Robotic software can be applied in many disciplines across business including (but not limited to) finance, procurement, supply chain management, accounting, customer services and human resources. Take a look at how logistics automation can be achieved through robotics and robotic process automation. 

What is robotic process automation?

A software robot replicates actions of a human being interacting with the user interface of a computer system and allows for end-to-end business processes to be completed and/or integrated, this is one of the biggest trends to arise in robotics manufacturing. 

Generally this requires capturing and interpreting existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses or communicating with other digital systems.

Activities that have traditionally been done through manual processes, including updating a customer web portal with current load status and ETA, scheduling a delivery, or tracking trailers or vehicles, will soon be solely done through robotic software applications.

The combination of new wave robots, cloud computing and the Internet of Things are paving an innovative way forward to achieving a fully integrated and automated supply chain.

IDG estimates that by 2018, 40% of manufacturers will be investing in robotics, autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs) and associated systems within their warehousing operations to drive automation into their fulfilment processes, and 75% of manufacturers will coordinate enterprise-wide planning activities under the umbrella of rapid integrated business planning.

 So all this is well and good, but what are the benefits of investing in robotic automation software?

What are the benefits?

If your business is using manual processes on a large scale for general knowledge process work, where people are performing high-volume, highly transactional process functions, will find that productivity is increased when switching to robotic process automation software.

You'll find improvements in the following:

  • Eliminate manually copying data from internal systems back into B2B portals
  • Automate the schedule eCommerce fulfilment
  • Update trailer portals more frequently resulting in substantial productivity gains and better service

Increasingly, customer service and engagement are becoming big priorities for manufacturers, and they are becoming influences in supply chain management.

Robotic process automation will allow for the modernisation of your supply chain to better serve evolving market requirements, providing logistics companies with enough speed and innovation in processes to deliver goods on time and more cheaply than businesses who manage their supply chain manually.

Catch of the Day provides a great example of supply chain automation success after they invested in an automated storage and retrieval system to help them fulfil over 10,000 orders a day, and they've noticed a decrease in labour costs and a boost in productivity. 

"Before we automated, we had 60 pickers walking six or seven kilometres every day to pick up to 6,000 orders across 2,000 products. Our floor-replenishment and pick-to-zero model couldn't cope as we increased products and automation was the only way forward," says Jon Northorpe, Head of Logistics, Catch of the Day.

"Since automating, we have just four people picking and they are covering a lot less ground. Instead, our robots retrieve the goods, the pickers pick and a team of packers pack. We now pick 10,000 orders across up to 9,000 products with a significant change in labour costs and a halving in order cycle time. We now have the ability to get more products to customers in a much shorter timeframe." 

If you’re interested in learning more about robotics and how to automate your supply chain, register for a visitor pass to CeMAT AUSTRALIA to get the latest on software and hardware that will help you better serve your customers.


Topics: Supply Chain Management, Logistics Automation