More and more every day, technological innovations flood the market, and overwhelm our everyday life, at home, at workplace, and also in our logistics warehouses. In the logistics field, we hear talking about connected things or wearable technology, artificial intelligence, automated guided vehicle, autostore… for some people, it means a revolution, an opportunity to develop business and optimize logistics; for others, it means a risk for the employment, as innovations aim to replace the man. Let’s talk about it!
Innovations to help in decision-making
Logistics 4.0, as we saw here, means a connected system, allowing to stay informed in real time. To receive information in real time, logisticians use technological innovations. This received information instantly allows logisticians to make decisions. Let’s talk about some of them.
Intelligent glasses or connected glasses help operators in picking. Intelligent glasses link WMS to operators with the use of augmented reality. Operators thus have information in real time (quantity to pick, place of the good in the warehouse, etc.). They have free hands, they thus become more efficient and productive. In this case, we talk about “augmented human”, a concept that aims to improve human physical abilities. GEODIS is implementing connected glasses in its warehouse in Cologne, Germany. To find out more about this experiment, click here.
Virtual reality helps to make decisions by allowing to look to the future of a new project, a new warehouse, etc. It facilitates, for example, design of a workstation, operators training, a warehouse construction, etc. As we saw, intelligent glasses also use virtual reality, to connect real world to virtual information.
Drones fulfill automate inventory. They have an embarked informatics system, linked to WMS. They exchange information with the WMS, which ensures decision-making, faster, easier and in a more efficient way.
Artificial intelligence is a computer program performing tasks on behalf of the human. It can interpret images, videos, sounds and can make a decision by imitating human behavior. It is a forecast and anticipation system.
Robotic Process Automation Is currently in the process of development. It is a technology designed to automate simple, repetitive and low-value tasks. By tasks we mean some actions taken on a computer (transfer of payment, reporting, etc.). For example, it enables a salesperson to refocus on his core business. Salesperson saves his time to work on a task with high-value: contact and meet a customer for example. It is a method to help in decision-making too, as an employee benefits, for instance, from automatic data to analyze.
Innovations to prevent musculoskeletal disorders and help for load carrying
Repetitive or painful tasks stimulate musculoskeletal disorders. In the logistics field today it exists innovations allowing to improve work conditions of logistics operators.
Exoskeleton or external skeleton, is developing in industries and logistics warehouses. With exoskeleton, tasks are less painful and hard. It is a muscular assistance for the operators. It reduces the load on the back by 15kg. Operators become an augmented human protected by exoskeleton.
Robotic glove enables to increase natural strength of the operators. As exoskeletons, they can carry a load with more ease and comfort. It aims to make operators’ job easier. Robotic glove is designed with sensors, that detect movement. When an operator closes his hand, robotic glove squeezes. When an operator opens his hand, robotic glove comes loose.
Robotic arm is designed for activities with high and stable delivery. Thanks to special software, robotic arm identifies the goods to be picked up from the boxes. It aims to increase productivity, while providing the same level of quality. It also allows to relieve operators of carrying heavy load.
Assistant forklift is a collaborative and autonomous robot, which helps operators in carrying and transporting loads. This robot can perform shipping between several locations, completely independently. Assistant forklift is just like a logistic assistant.
Innovations to reduce travel time within the warehouse
Most of innovations aim to optimize warehouse flows and thus reduce operators’ travel times, a source of difficult working conditions.
Automated Guided Vehicle allows to transport load from one working post to another, in a closed loop. The forklift follows a mark on the ground. It is designed to control its speed and its stops, depending on its route. Automated Guided Vehicle thus enables to rationalize and simplify flows in the warehouse. The implementation of this forklift is more worthwhile for regular and large flows.
Automated store is a storage and automated orders preparation compact system. It consists of trays, a storage structure, handling robots and operators working posts. Robots make storage and destocking operations from the trays. They communicate via wifi. It allows an important space saving. It is a flexible and compact goods-to-man system. Operators manage robots’ operations from their working posts.
Multishuttle system consists of racks, linked with automated conveyors. This logistic solution helps to fulfill picking operations, inventory operations and resupplying operations. As it is an autostore system, picking is automated. Multishuttle allows to increase speed, accuracy and delivery of orders preparation. This system, linked to WMS, selects automatically, the ideal storage location. Thus multishuttle brings numerous benefits: storage is optimized, inventory and picking are improved and facilitated.
Assistant forklift, mentioned above, allows to reduce operator’s travel time too, knowing that it is capable of carrying goods between two locations, automatically and independently.
Finally, drones, which allow to automate inventory, as we saw, reduce the travel time of operators. Drones move in the warehouse to catch informations on the pallets. Drones thus help to reduce the necessary resources to make an inventory: operators, rental of nacelle, activity interruption, etc. Drones can make inventory every night and each week, that avoids any inventory errors and allows to correct them if they occur. To know more, you can read “Automated warehouse inventory using drones welcome to GEODIS”.
The arrival of these logistics innovations, will disrupt existing process and working organization, and it is understandable that lots of people are worried. Nevertheless, these innovations offer news opportunities and aim to provide support to humans. Logistics operators thus have less painful and hard tasks. For companies, the goal is not to put in place all of logistics innovations; they will have to identify the innovations that can answer to their needs. Companies investing in innovations and adapting to this new organization, will benefit of a competitor advantage and an opportunity of growth. And what about you? Have you implemented logistics innovations within your warehouse? Talk to us about it!