The following generations of Supply Chains.
Edge technology empowers next-generation Supply Chain (SC) distribution centres with some of the latest technology in robotics, piece-picking solutions, virtual reality, heads-up displays, and many more. However, leaders are not planning on implementing them soon, given that organisations cannot tell where their business is going and the significant investment it would take in the future.
Customers’ demands and expectations have changed dramatically due to the pandemic; now, delivery companies must deliver goods sooner. Most of the time, articles required are indispensable household goods or food products, making it harder to deliver goods quickly and efficiently flexibly.
Pilots programs help to see:
· How and where they apply technology in their processes.
· How to compare conventional solutions cost against traditional automation.
· What kind of benefit they might deliver.
DHL Study case
DHL piloted a program study on robotics implementations for a cart-vision based picking, initially sponsored by DHL innovation centre in partnership with middleware and hardware providers.
It set up conveyors and shuttle systems in a section of the facilities. However, those investments are no longer business-viable among customers on hesitant or short-term deals to increase their volume.
DHL is willing to invest in next-generation technologies because of its ability to leverage them across its network.
The emerging technology DHL is implementing, according to their needs, is:
· They are more flexible, scalable and cost-competitive.
· They have a lower cost than traditional automation.
· They can scale with volume.
· DHL might lease technologies like mobile robots or lift trucks.
· Technology can move along distribution centres.
· They proved the productivity improvement of a pilot program in an omnichannel facility.
· Work collaboratively with associates in existing infrastructure.
· Vision technology used in collaboration with a voice device to picking-to-cart applications.
· The use of voice recognition where an order selector scans a bar code label on a cart.
· Mobile collaborative robotic strategies.
· To bring computing power to eyewear devices.
· Heads-up displays.
· To use glasses as the pick-assistant device in a multi-modal solution.
· RF scanning.
· Material handling robots.
DHL has an innovation centre operated by experts who can carry on with research and write essays about topics around AI, Robotics, sensors, drones, and other technologies, making it easier to define where to put money on the best advantages of the labour force to go further.
It gives you a bonus anytime you can put new technology into existing operations. DHL sees productivity improvement during a pilot; however, consider that much automation creates significant disruption.
DHL’s use several strategies at various facilities.
- ‘Follow me’ refers to an automated collaborative order picker involving a motorised cart. The robotic acts as a tugger, pulling other carts behind it; a WMS does not integrate a motorised cart; it follows a picker who controls the robot with an assist device.
- The ‘Lead me’ strategy is when the mobile robot is integrated into the WMS and designates a picker. The robot leads the selector from one pick location to another, showing items and quantities the robot picks at each site. Pickers are strolling the warehouse floor to complete their tasks; this approach eliminates non-value-added travel.
- ‘The swarm me’ strategy disconnects the mobile robots from pickers, for the most part, assigned to a zone. Robots receive orders from the WMS and tour to pick locations, where a nearby picker looks into the robot's screen for the task and chooses it to the robot’s tote. A robot can go into a zone and travel autonomously to the pack station to complete the order.
- ‘Holy Grail’ is a mobile robot with piece-picking skills. Here, the robot moves autonomously to a pick location, picks a tote from a shelf and then delivers it to a pack station or conveyor.
Whilst DHL Innovation Centre made significant advances, technology still has a way to go. Robots are costly, and because the robotic arms are slow, the picking times are not as rapid as required. They will become game-changers, no doubt.
Further comments: experimenting with these technologies will make us competitive whilst building trust with our customers.
How about becoming competitive through the use of game-changing technology?
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