How Can Automation Revolutionise the Logistics Industry?
Automation in the logistics industry started to evolve with the origination of automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) as early as the 1960s. Back then, the technology was limited to computerized control systems that did all the heavy lifting.
AS/RS contributed extensively in supply chain management and helped businesses cut logistics costs considerably.
Now with gradual evolution, AS/RS has set course for automation that is revolutionizing the logistics industry. The primary objective of businesses has been to lower expenses and also distribution time as much as possible with the use of software and automated machines.
Some of the technology that the logistics industry is implementing to revolutionise automation include:
- Automated guided vehicles
Automated guided vehicles have become a key player in the warehouse management system (WMS). Also known as automatic guided vehicles (AGVs), these are usually robots that navigate their paths using wires or markings on the floor. Some AGVs also use lasers, magnets, cameras, and radio wave frequencies.
Applications of these robots are best observed in Amazon warehouses. These resemble robotic vacuum cleaners and can lift up to 750 pounds. Whenever a new order is placed, a robot goes under the respective rack the item is present in and brings it to an employee for packaging and shipment.
These robots are also being utilised in warehouses of Cainiao, the logistics company of Alibaba Group.
An automated guided vehicle can operate in closed spaces thereby enabling a business to store more items in a warehouse. Also, these limit the travel time spent by employees to bring a product for processing.
- Palletising robots
Palletising robots are industrial robots used in the logistics industry for packaging and pelleting-related procedures. These robots are already setting a bar in the warehouse management system globally.
According to research, around 50,000 warehouses around the world will employ more than 4 million robots by 2025.
Amazon has already implemented these robots in some of its warehouses. Known as Robo-Stow, it is labeled as the “largest robotic arm” able to move items of large quantities for order fulfillment.
Another example is Ocado’s warehouse in Andover, UK. This online supermarket is able to process up to 65,000 orders every week thanks to their robots. These robots move in a grid at speeds of 4m/second, communicate with 4G technology, and are controlled by an air traffic control system.
An automated sorter or sortation system handles packages and parcels as per preference. It can deliver an order based on weight, volume, destination, or any other criteria set by the warehouse management system.
There are numerous players in this market manufacturing full-automatic and semi-automatic sorters for logistics picking or handling.
Other than hardware, the software also plays a significant role in revolutionizing the logistics industry. There are several types of software used in the warehouse management system some providing control of robots, some enabling control over scheduling and delivery, and others providing control of the storage of incoming inventory.
Automated conveyors, self-driving forklifts, check weigher, commercial drones, and radio data terminals are few other automation technologies used in this industry.
Benefits of automation in the logistics industry
- Cost savings
Automation in logistics reduces costs involved in distribution and workforce. According to a joint study by Strategy&, automation will cut global logistics costs by:
- 5% by 2020
- 20% by 2025
- 47% by 2030
- Reduced errors
One of the most common occurrences in the logistics industry is the shipment of incorrect goods to the recipient. Thus, businesses end up spending more in shipping, which automation can reduce up to 99%.
- Real-time freight rates
Automation in the logistics industry can help businesses choose the ideal shipping company based on several factors. These systems also provide freight rates of those companies in real-time making selection even more efficient.
Increased organization control, delivery speed, scalability, and better support are other benefits that automation is supplying to revolutionize the logistics industry.
Itobuz Technologies specializes in offering logistics management software solutions for transport enterprises. Shore up global transport to defeat the COVID-19 with our business-critical applications.
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