Archive for warehouse automation

This Week in Logistics News (December 7 – 13)

It’s hard to believe that we have reached the end again. And by that, I mean the last Logistics Viewpoints news round-up of the year. It’s been another great year bringing you the news. It’s also been another great year of learning. I’ve learned so much from reading and researching so many supply chain news topics (in fact, I have more talking points at parties than I can shake a stick at), attending supply chain […]

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Value Beyond the Task: The Benefits of Robotics Outside Immediate Workflows

What’s the operational and strategic value of robotics? This question is more important now than ever, as businesses look to robotics to overcome labor challenges and increase operational flexibility. Flexibility is a strategic concept summarizing the elasticity a warehouse needs to adapt to market changes and skyrocketing consumer expectations. Helping to address flexibility in the warehouse is the newer robotics market for autonomous mobile robots (AMR). This technology is extending the capabilities of warehouses, people, […]

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The Innovator’s Dilemma in Today’s AS/RS Market

The innovator’s dilemma is at play in the bin/tote segment of the AS/RS market – today’s proven solutions face the future prospects of fierce competition from a new set of technologies with a promising future.

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The Cutting Edge of Fulfillment Automation

Earlier today I came across a CNBC article about a “secret” logistics summit hosted by Alphabet, the parent company of Google. The reported objective was to “explore potential business models and investment opportunities in the e-commerce space with a focus in logistics and fulfillment.” The article and the meeting that it discusses gives me the impression that logistics is being viewed as a game changing competitive differentiator. I like that! A few weeks ago, I […]

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Amazon’s Fall River Fulfillment Center Tour

As I conduct research on the global warehouse automation market, I hear statements such as “warehouse automation demand from Amazon and other e-commerce behemoths is draining automation providers of available resources and capacity.” Furthermore, Amazon purchased Kiva to capture essentially all of Kiva’s output capacity for its own use. So when I signed up for a tour of Amazon’s fulfillment center in Fall River, MA, I expected to witness large amounts of advanced automation. This […]

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The “Soft” Side of Automation Holds the Key to ROI

Material handling equipment (MHE) has been around a long time. But, it’s never been more popular. Companies look to automation now (more than ever) to improve throughput while bridging the labor gaps affecting so many warehouses and industries. Fixed automation such as conveyors, sortation, and storage systems are proven solutions within their respective wheelhouses. Warehouse robotics hold great promise for more complex and variable operational needs. These technologies continue to grow in popularity, broaden their […]

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Google – Your Next Generation Warehouse Control System Provider?

My search for warehouse automation patents uncovered an unlikely assignee, Google. It turns out that Google was awarded a patent in May 2019 for “Dynamically Maintaining a Map of a Fleet of Robotic Devices in an Environment to Facilitate Robotics Action.” The contents of the patent were geared toward use in the warehouse and features the ability to predict future locations of members of a robotics fleet to optimize collaborative tasks.

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The Warehouse Automation Market’s Shifting Competitive Landscape

The warehouse automation market currently exhibits many characteristics that lead me to believe the competitive landscape is on the verge of rapid change. This isn’t typically the case with a mature market. But e-commerce growth, robotics advancements, and international competition have set the stage for an acceleration of change. Market participants that remain complacent are likely to suffer as a result.

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ProMat 2019 – Large Investments on Display

The ProMat show hall had an elephant in the room – Toyota Industries and its companies were front and center, as a display of its recent strategic acquisitions into the warehouse automation world. Piece picking robots, shuttle system enhancements, collaborative robots, and the software that makes these systems “intelligent” were the highlights of my attendance at ProMat 2019. The following exhibits were the most infomative to me.

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The Warehouse Labor Gap is Unsustainable

US warehousing and storage industry (3PL) employment grew from 779 million in January 2015 to 1.2 billion in December 2018, a CAGR of 11% from 2015 through 2018. At the same time, US unemployment is at historic lows. This suggests that the warehousing and storage industry must hire workers from other industries. Stories about individual warehouses paints a picture of high demand for labor, low availability, and high turnover rates. Something has to “give”.

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