Today is day two of the HighJump Elevate user conference. Except it is no longer HighJump Elevate. Rather it is now Körber Elevate. This is due to yesterday’s official launch of the new corporate branding. Chad Collins, the CEO of HighJump, formally announced the transition of HighJump to Körber Supply Chain, and further stated that all of the twelve Körber Supply Chain companies will transfer to the Körber brand by this summer. Contextually, Körber Supply Chain Software is a business unit within Körber Supply Chain, which is itself one of five business areas of the Körber Group. Management believes that the one company Körber brand best represents the global, comprehensive capabilities of the organization as a whole.
The Supply Chain of the Future
Sean Elliott, the company’s CTO, took a step back to Elevate 2018 when they launched a vision of the supply chain of the future based on two fundamental principles – the increasingly strategic role of supply chain within business, and the realization that supply chain must be nimble to be a strategic contributor to business. And being nimble is essential to adaptability. Sean built out that vision further with four fundamental tenets of the supply chain of the future – Adaptability, Insight, Efficiency, and Connectivity. And I believe these tenets provide a valuable framework for evaluating the key attributes of a best in class supply chain. With this vision in mind, Sean stated that companies are focused on their present needs and looking to determine what technology they can implement to help their workers perform on the job or help management reimagine processes that are critical to their business. In essence, technology that will move operations toward autonomy while providing an immediate tangible return on investment. And Körber’s burgeoning robotics business is one way it is turning this vision into action.
Warehouse Robotics is Center Stage
In September, Körber acquired Australia-based Cohesio Group. Among other projects, Cohesio Group has seven Geek+ robotics implementations under its belt, including an apparel facility with over 200 bots. In January, Körber announced its strategic partnership with Locus Robotics. Verst Logistics was noted as a flagship customer of the Körber and Locus partnership. And Fetch Robotics was announced at Elevate as a new strategic partner of Körber. These announcements were followed by the panel discussion on the rise of warehouse robotics, featuring Melonee Wise, the CEO of Fetch Robotics, Leif Jentoff, the Co-Founder of RightHand Robotics, Karen Leavitt, CMO of Locus Robotics, and John Santagate and Nishan Wijemanne of Körber.
Melonee Wise explained how the general availability of open source software around 2015 jump started the autonomous mobile robotics (AMR) market. At that time, a number of robotics companies burst on the scene. Karen Leavitt added that the price and capabilities of the technology have improved to the point where the business case can be demonstrated and proven for the appropriate uses. Leif Jentoff agreed that the ROI is there, particularly when the scale is appropriate. He further noted that the value is not only in the volumes but also in the predictability and reliability that robotics can bring to a warehouse operation. Melonee also stated that there is a need for a platform for the management of these devices. Proper platforms will help with maintenance and the ability to maintain and continue to deliver ROI on the robotics investments. Finally, Melonee commented on the value of the data provided by robotics. She made the analogy of a robot as one big DVR, providing information on movements, near misses, and other data that can deliver value at the process engineer level of the operation – providing insights for warehouse business process improvements.
Six years ago I was introduced to the Körber brand from the company’s acquisition of Inconso. When Körber acquired HighJump I took notice. From there I learned about Aberle, Consoveyo and other warehouse automation companies within the Group’s portfolio. Today I expect to hear more and more about Körber within the context of warehouse management, warehouse automation, and robotics. Körber has certainly burst upon the scene as a global warehouse technology provider.