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Movu Robotics Transforms Kris De Leeneer’s Logistics Operations with Innovative Automation Solution

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Movu Robotics Transforms Kris De Leeneer’s Logistics Operations with Innovative Automation Solution

In a groundbreaking collaboration, Movu Robotics has implemented its cutting-edge atlas pallet shuttle system at Kris De Leeneer’s (KDL) state-of-the-art Distribution Centre (DC) in Lokeren, Belgium.

This collaboration marks a significant milestone as the first Movu atlas system tailored for the third-party logistics (3PL) market. The innovative automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) provides KDL with approximately 45,000 storage locations and the capability to handle up to 11,000 pallet movements per week, offering unparalleled flexibility and scalability.

Founded in 2001, KDL has positioned itself as a leading logistics service provider, dedicated to enhancing supply chain management for its clients. The Movu atlas shuttle system, integral to KDL’s new 10,000 square meter DC, plays a pivotal role in achieving KDL’s vision of “better, bigger, and easier.” Located in Lokeren and adjacent to the highway, the DC optimizes vertical storage to minimize its footprint, embodying KDL’s commitment to sustainability.

The Movu atlas system, installed in the summer of 2022, boasts a 28-meter-high rack with ten levels, covering a footprint of 60 x 100 meters. The system utilizes 20 Movu atlas pallet shuttles to transport pallets within the rack’s storage lanes. Movu’s Warehouse Execution System (WES) software efficiently manages shuttle traffic, seamlessly integrating with KDL’s Warehouse Management System (WMS).

Kris De Leeneer, CEO of KDL, emphasized the unique advantages of the Movu atlas system, stating, “Movu’s atlas is an efficient and scalable automated warehousing solution that can adapt to our requirements due to its modularity and the ability to add shuttles as required.”

The collaboration between Movu Robotics and KDL extends beyond the atlas system, encompassing integrated in/outbound zones, advanced conveyors, and turntables. The result is a streamlined flow of goods from storage to the dispatch area, featuring ten loading docks.

One of the key strengths of the Movu atlas system is its inherent flexibility. KDL benefits from the ability to easily increase pallet throughput by adding more shuttles, ensuring adaptability to changing business levels and customer demands. The modular rack design allows for future expansion, providing a future-proof solution for KDL’s evolving needs.

Stefan Pieters, CEO of Movu Robotics, expressed the significance of the project, stating, “This project is a great demonstration of bringing easier automation to all warehouses. The atlas shuttle system offers a flexible, scalable, modular approach to automation.”

The success of this collaboration exemplifies the seamless integration of innovative technology into logistics operations, showcasing the potential for automated solutions to enhance efficiency, throughput, and adaptability in warehouse environments.

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How AMRs Are Fulfilling the Potential of Automation in Modern Supply Chains

Supply chains have been slow and disruption-prone in the COVID-19 era, largely because of operational deficiencies and a lack of skilled labor. 

Automated mobile robots (AMRs) can address both challenges by replacing outdated technologies and giving the workforce a boost of artificial manpower.

Here are some ways that AMRs are fulfilling the potential of automation and getting modern supply chains back on track.

How Do AMRs Function?

An AMR is a type of robot that can perform tasks without human guidance. It’s the next step in the evolution of autonomous robots, coming after the autonomous guided vehicle (AGV) that could only do certain predetermined tasks under close supervision. While AGVs are still useful for transporting materials and working alongside human employees, AMRs bring more value.

AMRs use a variety of sensory technologies including cameras, magnetic tapes and lasers to process their environments, which isn’t a new concept. AMRs are so special because of their artificial intelligence and machine learning software. When a sensor identifies an unexpected obstacle, the built-in software can immediately reroute the robot and continue its assigned task.

What Are the Different Types of AMRs?

AMRs fall into three broad categories based on their functions — transportation, order picking and sortation. The main AMRs for transportation are self-driving versions of traditional vehicles — namely self-driving trucks that can reduce congestion and fuel consumption on busy supply routes. Self-driving forklifts and pallet jacks are other common examples.

The main AMR devices for picking orders are industrial robotic arms, which fill the positions of assembly line workers in warehouses or manufacturing plants. There are numerous types of robotic arms that play key roles in supply chain automation, including multipurpose six-axis robots and collaborative robots that are designed to work alongside humans.

High-speed tilt tray robots are the primary AMRs that warehouses use for sortation. They include a simple reclining tray and barcode reader to classify products into their appropriate incoming or outgoing lines, but the AI software works at a much faster and more efficient rate than human sorters.

Benefits of Using AMRs

AMRs are admittedly challenging to adopt because of their deployment and reconfiguration costs compared to AGVs. Feeding an autonomous robot new information and keeping it in good condition is hard work. However, the long-term benefits far outweigh the costs. Here are the biggest reasons why supply chain professionals should invest in AMRs.

Compensates for Lost Labor

The most immediate benefit of using AMRs is the compensation for lost labor. Wholesale trade and manufacturing were among the hardest hit industries by the Great Resignation that took place from 2020 to 2022. These sectors have more than one million combined job openings in the U.S. as of March 2023. 

Rather than attempting to hire more employees, companies can fill those empty roles with AMRs instead. AMRs are the ideal devices for the mundane and repetitive tasks that make up a majority of supply chain processes. Robots can move, pick and sort the entire inventory while humans continue to occupy more people-oriented departments.

Greater Supply Chain Efficiency

Outsourcing monotonous tasks to AMRs leads to greater efficiency at every step in the supply chain. They remove human limitations from the equation, leading to fewer errors and allowing operations to run 24/7. Managers no longer need to account for independent variables such as an employee’s health or mood on any given day.

Fleets of self-driving trucks can transport goods with better driving techniques and thus fewer delays. Self-driving forklifts, pallet jacks and other warehouse devices can move items to their assigned destinations with pinpoint accuracy and cause no damage. Industrial robotic arms also operate with surgical precision when assembling and packaging products, minimizing waste.

Safer Work Environment

Implementing autonomous robots also creates a safer work environment. AMRs use safety-rated LiDAR systems, one example being the OTTO Lifter. It has a 360-degree view of its surroundings, allowing it to avoid accidents that may lead to injuries.

Instead of having a bunch of employees driving forklifts around a warehouse with innumerable obstacles, managers can switch to AMRs that navigate around obstacles without error or hesitation. Similarly, performing dangerous tasks like incisions, welds or handling hazardous materials is much safer in the hands of a robot rather than a human.

Higher Product Quality and Quantity

When a company maximizes its safety and efficiency, the inevitable result is higher product quality and quantity. Every item that an AMR handles will look and function the same. On the rare chance that a defect occurs, managers can add that information to the AMR’s software to ensure it never happens again. 

Manufacturing products with this level of accuracy also leads to a higher overall output. AMRs can’t directly solve the shortages of raw materials in various industries, but they can get the most out of the limited resources a company has. Moreover, AMRs can absorb new data, make objective decisions and adapt to external variables in ways that humans can’t.

Significant Savings

The final benefit of using AMRs in supply chain operations is significant savings — both from operational costs and scaling. Safe and efficient operations yield great savings because companies don’t have to pay for equipment damage, defective products, employee accidents and other disruptions. Labor costs are also much lower with AMRs included in the workforce.

AMRs are also highly flexible, so businesses can add them to their growing operations as needed. This unmatched scalability allows managers to free up capital for other expenditures and add more AMR units over time. Investing in a new technology in the long run is more affordable than modifying or replacing a fixed system in the short term.

Keeps Up With Supply Chain Trends

Lastly, businesses that invest in AMRs have made a critical step in following the latest supply chain trends. With the rise of lightning-fast e-commerce and changing customer expectations, the demand for speed and efficiency has never been higher. Human employees in a depleted workforce can’t keep up with this demand, but AMRs can.

Armed with scalable robotic solutions, companies can adapt to the changing attitudes of their customers without missing a beat. They can easily change an AMR’s functionality by adding new data to the software instead of causing downtime to upgrade the facility. AMRs operate independently and can shift to a new task or location without hiccups.

AMRs Are the Present, Not the Future

New technologies like AMRs often get discussed in terms of future benefits, which is a mistake. AMRs are the present, not the future. They are playing critical roles in supply chain optimization right now, and they will only become more indispensable as time goes on. Business leaders need to invest in AMRs now if they want to overcome today’s economic challenges.

supply chain logistics

Supply Chain 4.0: Embracing Digital Transformation for Next-Generation Logistics

Picture a bustling warehouse filled with state-of-the-art robots autonomously navigating the aisles, swiftly picking and packing items precisely. Meanwhile, data streams flow seamlessly through interconnected systems, enabling real-time monitoring, forecasting, and optimization. This is the world of digital transformation embraced by Supply Chain 4.0. Businesses can optimize efficiency, transparency, and customer satisfaction by integrating advanced technologies like AI, blockchain, IoT, and big data analytics. 

While Supply Chain 4.0 and Logistics 4.0 have many characteristics, their areas of emphasis are where they diverge most. Supply Chain 4.0 is more extensively focused on the end-to-end movement of information and things. Instead, the logistical processes involved in transporting such items from one location to another are the only emphasis of Logistics 4.0. 

Logistics 4.0 aims to change the processing of the product life cycle with the desire to have a sole system for entire logistics operations. This article further explores the impact of digital transformation on logistics.

Real-Time Data: A Game-changer for Logistics

Smart glass is still a hot topic in the logistics sector despite all the new technologies. This technology integrates augmented reality and head-up-display capabilities into glass surfaces, providing real-time data and interactive features.

The application of smart glass technology in warehouse operations considerably impacts logistics. With this technology, warehouse workers can have a hands-free and heads-up display of essential information, such as order specifics, picking instructions, and inventory locations. 

Lowering the need for manual paper-based operations and dependence on handheld devices improves efficiency. Employees move around the warehouse more efficiently, speeding up the picking and packing process. In fact, augmented reality overlays can direct workers to the precise location of objects, cutting search time and boosting output.

Last-mile delivery is another area where smart glass technology is revolutionizing logistics. Using smart glasses, delivery drivers can receive real-time navigational guidance, route improvements, and real-time traffic updates—increasing productivity and guaranteeing on-time deliveries.

Logistics 4.0: Embracing Digital Transformation

Digital transformation in logistics has ushered in a new era of end-to-end visibility, where manual processes are replaced with automated operations. Real-time tracking and updates have grown crucial as customers seek smooth delivery experiences and become more educated. 

By embracing digitization, logistics businesses are moving away from antiquated paper-based processes and towards effective solutions allowing real-time shipping process execution. By providing timely and accurate information throughout the supply chain journey, this change not only improves operational efficiency but also greatly increases customer satisfaction.

How are Companies Benefiting from Digital Transformation in Logistics?

Companies are becoming highly aware of the need to implement a green supply chain as they emphasize sustainability and minimize environmental effects. After its useful life has passed, the end-of-life management of the product is now integrated into all value chain activities, including product design, material procurement and selection, manufacturing procedures, delivery of the finished product, and so on. According to the environmental regulatory agency’s demands, this helps improve the performance of the process and the finished products. 

The circular supply chain, which focuses on repurposing returned goods and materials that appear to be waste, works in tandem with this. Innovation and cutting-edge technology are essential to a company’s and a country’s competitiveness. By differentiating firms and fostering their success in the face of fierce international competition, digital transformation helps them grow. 

Economy-boosting advanced manufacturing also generates higher-paying jobs. Manufacturing sectors that have improved technologically employ a highly skilled workforce and pay them more than workers in conventional industries do. Companies have been looking into possibly doing away with or drastically lowering their inventory needs over the last couple of decades due to additive manufacturing and 3D printing. Also, blockchain and RFID tags are intended to be used in an Indian state government food distribution initiative to trace the movement of milk, vegetables, and fish throughout the state. 

While this has increased flexibility, efforts to coordinate across participants in the value chain have also become more effective. With the introduction of the GST, new logistics hubs have appeared, and existing ones have been reoriented. The Indian government is using a public-private partnership strategy to construct multi-modal logistics hubs around the country, which is anticipated to encourage long-distance mobility between hubs and lower transportation costs.

Logistics 4.0 Digital Transformation: ARmed with Innovation

Augmented reality (AR) and Visual Reality (VR) are revolutionizing the training and visualization aspect of logistics. Where VR provides an entirely virtual environment, AR overlays digital information over the physical environment. These technologies offer logistics professionals special chances to develop their abilities and boost decision-making in a simulated yet accurate climate.

Regarding training, AR and VR provide realistic simulations experienced first-hand without requiring physical resources or running the risk of harm. For instance, warehouse staff can utilize AR to get detailed instructions for picking and packing orders, which will help them along the way and reduce mistakes. VR simulations can mimic intricate logistics problems, giving learners a safe and regulated setting to hone their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.

Another Crucial aspect of next-generation logistics is blockchain. Blockchain improves supply chain security by limiting access and preventing data manipulation. Blockchain’s decentralized structure reduces reliance on a single central authority, making it less susceptible to hackers. 

Also, blockchain creates a chain of blocks that is challenging to change without being noticed since every transaction recorded there is encrypted and linked to the one before it.

Blockchain technology’s transparency and security enable effective and dependable cross-border logistics. Customs officials, goods forwarders, and other stakeholders can improve customs clearance operations by accessing verified and reliable information, decreasing paperwork and crossing delays.

Moving Ahead 

Embracing the digital revolution, Supply Chain 4.0 unlocks unprecedented opportunities for businesses to thrive in an increasingly complex and interconnected global marketplace. The era of manual procedures, fragmented data, and erratic disruptions is over. Companies use advanced analytics to gather useful insights, predict market trends, and make smart choices that improve operational efficiency. 

Logistics 4.0 is unquestionably here to stay and will develop further. To remain competitive and improve customer service levels, logistics 4.0 is the way of the future. Organizations need to comprehend the broader concept of Supply Chain 4.0 to blend in with these digital transformations and utilize them in all aspects of business.

 

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Uses for Blockchain in the Supply Chain 

As the global economy evolves, so does technology. Blockchain is one of the most groundbreaking pieces of technology to emerge in recent years, and its potential applications in business are enormous. In particular, blockchain has incredible potential for use in supply chain management. By 2025, it is estimated that 2.5 billion users will be utilizing blockchain-based services worldwide.

From tracking products through every stage of production to improving operational efficiency and reducing costs, businesses can benefit from implementing this revolutionary technology into their supply chain operations. It offers unprecedented levels of transparency throughout each step in the process while also providing valuable data, allowing businesses to make informed decisions about their business strategy.

Read on to discover the uses of blockchain technology in the supply chain industry.

Understanding the Supply Chain Landscape  

Understanding the supply chain landscape is essential for businesses to thrive in this competitive digital age. The core idea behind the supply chain is simple: it connects different entities throughout the entire product lifecycle, from raw materials to customers. A successful supply chain requires accurate, up-to-date information sharing across all participants and efficient management of all transactions.

Blockchain and immutable technologies have the potential to revolutionize this landscape, providing unparalleled levels of transparency, security, and efficiency. With blockchain, companies can streamline supply chain processes by recording every step in a product’s journey, from raw materials to customers, in an immutable digital ledger. This technology allows businesses to be proactive rather than reactive, predicting and preventing issues before they become problems.

The Emergence of Blockchain Technology  

The emergence of blockchain has revolutionized the modern digital landscape, enabling unprecedented levels of data security and trust. Blockchain eliminates the need for intermediaries, allowing distributed ledgers to securely store immutable records that cannot be altered or tampered with.

This system offers an incorruptible record of transactions that can be shared across different parties simultaneously, providing businesses with significant cost savings and improved efficiency. As a result, blockchain technology has become an invaluable tool for the supply chain industry.

Enhancing transparency and traceability 

By implementing blockchain technology, supply chain participants can achieve greater visibility into each stage of the process. Whenever a product changes hands, a new block is added to the blockchain, containing relevant information such as origin, manufacturing details, quality control, and transportation data. This feature enables stakeholders to verify the authenticity and integrity of products, ensuring that they comply with regulatory requirements and ethical standards.

Furthermore, the immutability of blockchain records helps eliminate fraud and corruption within the industry, creating a more secure environment for all participants. This revolutionary technology will disrupt the traditional supply chain landscape by ensuring transparency and traceability.

Enhancing security and data integrity 

Blockchain technology vastly improves the security and integrity of supply chain operations. By removing intermediaries from the equation, the system can securely store data on a distributed ledger that cannot be tampered with. This allows companies to track their products and ensure the accuracy of the data. 

Additionally, blockchain records are time-stamped and encrypted, meaning you can quickly identify any changes to the data. This assures businesses that their data is secure and trustworthy while eliminating the need for manual checks.

Improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness 

One way blockchain improves efficiency is by reducing the need for intermediaries. In traditional supply chain systems, multiple go-betweens verify and approve transactions, leading to delays, errors, and increased costs. 

With blockchain technology, transactions can be securely recorded and verified on a decentralized ledger, eliminating the need for intermediaries. This simplifies the process, reduces administrative tasks, and accelerates the flow of goods and information.

Additionally, blockchain enables automated and secure smart contracts. Smart contracts are self-executing agreements coded on the blockchain that automatically enforce the parties’ agreed-upon terms and conditions. 

By eliminating the need for manual contract management and verification, blockchain streamlines processes and minimizes the risk of disputes or non-compliance. This automation saves time and reduces costs associated with contract administration and legal services.

How Blockchain Technology Can Streamline Supply Chain Processes  

Here are a few ways blockchain technology can help streamline your processes:

1) Automated reconciliation

Automated reconciliation is a process that allows supply chain operations to be streamlined and improved. By using blockchain technology, companies can securely store data on a distributed ledger that cannot be tampered with. This immutable record of transactions ensures that all records are accurate and up-to-date, eliminating the need for manual checks.

Furthermore, automated reconciliation helps businesses quickly identify and rectify any discrepancies that may arise. The secure encryption of blockchain records also protects data from malicious actors or unauthorized access. With that, businesses can be confident in the security and accuracy of their supply chain operations.

Finally, automated reconciliation allows companies to streamline their processes and operate more efficiently. By automating mundane tasks, businesses can focus their resources on other areas of the supply chain, leading to long-term cost savings.

2) Automated payment

Automated payments are another incredible feature that came with the emergence of blockchain technology. Thanks to smart contracts, automatic payments are a secure and efficient method of transferring funds from one user to another in real time. This feature eliminates the need for manual checks, saving businesses time and resources.

Furthermore, automated payment systems offer businesses greater security regarding payments. All transactions are stored and encrypted on the blockchain, meaning any changes can be quickly identified and rectified. This helps companies maintain control over their financial operations, creating a more secure environment for all involved.

3) Product authentication 

Product authentication is essential for businesses to guarantee the quality of their products and maintain customer trust. Blockchain technology offers an immutable digital ledger that allows businesses to authenticate products quickly and securely. The records are encrypted and time-stamped, meaning you can identify changes instantly.

This ensures that customers receive genuine products, as you can quickly identify counterfeit or false data. As a result, businesses can eliminate counterfeit items from entering their supply chain and maintain customer trust.

The Paradigm Shifted, and the Adoption of Blockchain in the Supply Chain is Inevitable 

The potential of blockchain technology to revolutionize and streamline supply chain processes is undeniable. From real-time tracking and automated reconciliation to secure payments and product authentication, companies can access various tools that can help optimize operations while reducing costs in the long run.

By leveraging these powerful features, companies can maintain control over their supply chains and ensure customer satisfaction with genuine products every time. The transformative power of blockchain has already been demonstrated across numerous industries, resulting in improved efficiency and cost savings for all involved parties. With its continued development, it’s clear that blockchain technology will continue to reshape the future of the global economy for years to come.

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Electric Vehicle Demand Is Revving Up in Logistics and Robots are Here to Help

EV adoption is on the rise in the logistics industry and manufacturers are meeting that demand with help from robotics. Logistics companies that adopt EVs can reduce their emissions and save money on fuel and maintenance costs. Robots help manufacturers provide these new vehicles by resolving labor shortages, reducing waste, minimizing production costs and more. 

Rising Demand for EVs in Logistics

Demand for EVs in logistics is on the rise due to several factors. Over recent years, EV technology has seen many innovations, improving performance and affordability. EV adoption in the U.S. was 27 times higher in 2021 than in 2011. While logistics vehicles lag behind consumer EVs, a rising tide of innovation is still underway.

For example, leading logistics companies have announced a switch to EVs over the past few years. The USPS announced a plan to deploy over 60,000 electric delivery vehicles by 2028. Amazon’s electric delivery vans began hitting the streets in mid-2022 alongside EV fleets from FedEx and UPS.

Over the past few years, EV technology has reached a tipping point where it is both functional and relatively inexpensive. Public awareness about fuel emissions is also on the rise, which is strengthening investment and adoption. Logistics companies can improve their ESG performance by adopting EVs.

Benefits of EVs for the Logistics Industry

Why is demand for EVs in logistics increasing? The logistics industry relies heavily on efficient fleets that are low-cost and high-performance. Today’s EV technology is well-positioned to meet those needs. There are also valuable financial benefits to adopting EVs. 

For example, the U.S. federal government offers a growing number of tax credits and incentives to promote electric vehicles. Logistics companies can use these programs to save money and make EV investments more affordable. Businesses can also save money through the lower cost of charging compared to gas or diesel fuel. 

EVs are ideal for logistics applications since they are quiet and reduce urban pollution. Logistics often requires moving goods through residential areas and cities, where noise and air pollution are already high. Switching to EVs helps logistics companies do their part to resolve these issues. 

The Role of Robots in EV Production

Mass logistics EV adoption relies on a strong EV manufacturing industry. Robots are helping manufacturers meet demand while keeping costs and waste low. They are crucial to ensuring success for the future of logistics EVs. 

Improved Manufacturing Safety

Robots are ideal for electric vehicle manufacturing because they allow manufacturers to make more out of less. Research shows the manufacturing industry will be short over 2 million employees by 2030. As a result, manufacturers are attempting to meet rising EV demand with smaller teams of employees. 

Robots can fill those labor shortage gaps by automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks. Integrating robots in EV manufacturing also improves employee safety by reducing physical risks. Employees can switch to less strenuous roles while robots automate physically-demanding tasks like moving heavy parts. 

Collaborative robots, or cobots, are particularly effective for EV manufacturing. Engineers design these robots to work alongside humans. As a result, they improve workplace safety, productivity and resilience. EV manufacturers can blend the talents of both humans and robots by adopting human-friendly cobots.

Waste and Cost Reduction

Minimizing waste in EV manufacturing is an integral part of meeting the environmental goals engineers design electric vehicles to support. Robots can reduce production waste as much as possible through high efficiency and accuracy. This saves supplies, resources, time and money. 

Robots can perform the same task countless times without diminishing returns or significant variety. As a result, robots can deliver more consistent quality than humans. Employees will naturally get tired, fatigued and distracted on the job occasionally. In repetitive manual tasks, this can cause higher defect rates resulting in wasted materials. 

EV manufacturing can also benefit from the high level of precision robots offer. EVs require carefully assembled battery units and electronics which are often the most expensive part of the vehicle. Applying robots to battery assembly ensures the highest level of precision and consistent quality. It also minimizes the likelihood of production errors or defects wasting costly materials. 

Challenges Facing EVs in Logistics

What challenges is logistics EV adoption facing today? The EV market has a few main road bumps, particularly infrastructure and the initial investment cost. These challenges may be resolved with further innovation and development over the next few years, including help from robotics. 

Charging Infrastructure

Few things are hindering EV adoption like charging infrastructure. Surveys show that 47% of Americans are unlikely to purchase an EV, with 77% citing charger availability as a major or minor concern.

Charging infrastructure remains more complicated and less accessible than conventional gas stations. Different vehicle manufacturers may use different types of chargers. Charging stations vary significantly in the charging time and power they can provide. Refilling a gas tank is also drastically faster than leaving an EV to charge for hours. 

If EVs in logistics are going to reach their full potential, charging infrastructure will require significant innovation. Larger-capacity batteries may help but can also result in longer charging times. Heat management also creates a ceiling on how fast drivers can safely recharge EV batteries. 

Robots can help manufacturers produce more EV charging equipment with less money and resources. This will help grow the charging network and keep charger installation and operation affordable for everyone, including logistics vehicles. 

Affordability

Despite progress over recent years, affordability remains a challenge for EVs. The high initial investment cost can make it particularly difficult to get logistics companies and other businesses on board. Even if EVs are cheaper to own over time, the initial purchase price remains higher than gas or diesel-powered vehicles. 

Integrating robots in the EV manufacturing process can minimize production costs and bring down the purchase price of electric vehicles. Further innovation in EV design will also result in more affordable, efficient vehicles down the road. 

Batteries vs. Hydrogen Electric

EVs in logistics specifically are facing an interesting debate — are batteries or hydrogen fuel better for electric vehicles? Usually, people think of battery electric vehicles, or BEVs, when they hear about EVs. However, batteries aren’t the only power source available today. They might not be the best option for logistics applications, either. 

Hydrogen fuel cells are gaining popularity for electrifying the fleet industry, providing a cost-effective alternative to batteries for larger vehicles. Hydrogen fuel cells are great for vehicles like vans and trucks since they don’t require large, expensive battery packs or lengthy charging times. Instead, drivers simply refuel the vehicle with hydrogen fuel like at a gas or diesel station. Hydrogen electric vehicles may be the perfect solution for the logistics industry, providing clean transportation without the drawbacks of charging complications. 

The Future of EVs in Logistics

Electric vehicles are the future of transportation in every industry, including logistics. Robots are helping EV manufacturers resolve labor shortages, improve productivity, lower costs, reduce waste and improve employee safety. Over the coming years, manufacturing robots will support the growth of logistics EV adoption as the industry works to overcome a few remaining electrification challenges.

 

smart logistics storage

The Top 10 Smart Packaging Technologies Disrupting the Industry

When most people think of supply chain technology, packaging may not be the first thing to come to mind. However, despite these preconceptions, smart packaging technology is a fast-growing and exciting field.

Smart packaging technology is a broad field covering new technologies integrated into packages themselves or playing a crucial role in the packaging process. Here are 10 of the most disruptive of these technologies changing the industry today.

1. RFID and NFC Tags

Devices that wirelessly transmit real-time data about a package are some of the most useful packaging technologies. Today, radio frequency identification (RFID) and near-field communication (NFC) are the two leading examples of this tech.

Both RFID and NFC can send data like a package’s location, contents and even the quality or health of those contents to nearby devices. That way, customers can verify their orders and logistics professionals can manage their inventories more efficiently. Some RFID systems can even transmit data up to 25 feet, enabling easier scanning.

2. Printed Sensors

RFID and NFC tags make important information more accessible, but they may require other devices to gather this data in the first place. In the past, that meant placing bulky electronics inside packages, which isn’t practical. Today, businesses can use printed sensors to provide the same benefits in a more convenient form factor.

New technologies can print fully functioning circuits on thin adhesive strips. Adding quality sensors, vibration monitoring or other data-gathering systems is then as easy as placing a sticker on the inside of a package. As a result, businesses can enable more data-tracking without sacrificing packaging space.

3. Active Packaging

Some smart packaging technology goes further and protects shipment quality instead of simply reporting it. Active packaging interacts with its components, in turn extending their shelf life and protecting them in transit.

This type of packaging can take several forms. At its simplest, it uses chemical ingredients to absorb unwanted elements or emit desirable compounds — like an oxygen absorber to prevent beverage oxidation. However, it can also be more high-tech. Mechanical or digital technologies inside a package can monitor and emit antimicrobial solutions or block UV radiation. 

4. Nanomaterials

Nanotechnology — tech dealing with components on a nanoscopic scale — is another disruptive example of packaging tech. Many materials exhibit unique qualities on this scale, and capitalizing on these characteristics is helping companies make packaging safer, sustainable and more reliable.

Some aerogels made of nanomaterials offer effective insulation from heat and shocks without taking up as much space as conventional materials. Other nanomaterials provide biodegradable alternatives to traditional packaging materials like plastics and waxes. In other cases, logistics companies use nanoparticles to prevent microbial contamination in pharmaceutical shipments.

5. QR Codes

Quick read (QR) codes are a more familiar technology for many, but they’ve only recently grown in packaging. Just as RFID tags can send critical data to logistics workers, QR codes let end customers learn more about their packages with a simple scan. Unlike data transmitters, though, customers can read these codes with just a smartphone.

Companies can use QR codes to reveal more product information they couldn’t fit on the package. That could entail nutritional info, best-before dates, warranty explanations or tips for usage. Whatever the specifics, these codes provide an easy gateway for customers to get more out of their products.

6. AR Packaging

Augmented reality (AR) takes these customer-packaging interactions further. AR displays virtual images over a real-time view of the real world. Packages can capitalize on this by using QR codes to unlock unique AR experiences for customers.

Some companies have used AR to promote new products or giveaways. When users scanned the packaging of their products, they’d hear music from a label’s musicians or unlock an interactive experience to enter them into product sweepstakes. These unique experiences may encourage more people to buy products with this packaging so they can see the novelty first-hand.

7. AI Package Design

Some smart packaging technology focuses on processes around the packaging instead of the package itself. One of the most groundbreaking and practical of these is artificial intelligence (AI) in package design.

AI can consider thousands of possibilities and perform complex calculations far faster than humans. Its speed and accuracy in these decisions make it an ideal way to find ways to improve packaging, like coming up with designs that use fewer materials. Businesses using AI to generate novel package designs can create stronger or more cost-efficient packaging in less time.

8. 3D Printing

Similarly, 3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, can make better packaging designs. 3D printers work faster than conventional production techniques and don’t produce as much waste, making them more cost-effective. They can also produce more unique shapes than traditional methods, enabling more customization in packaging.

Since 3D printing is more efficient and can use more sustainable materials, it makes packaging more eco-friendly. Considering how 60%-70% of consumers say they’d pay more for sustainable packaging, that advantage is crucial.

9. Blockchain Tracking

Blockchain is a newer but increasingly viable smart packaging technology. While these distributed ledgers are most famous as the underlying technology behind cryptocurrency, they offer significant advantages in logistics.

Blockchain tracking solutions can store updates from in-package sensors to improve tracking throughout the supply chain. Because blockchain records are unchangeable and transparent to anyone, using them here would help fight fraud and boost supply chain visibility. In turn, blockchain tracking would offer end customers more trust in the brands they buy from.

10. Robotics

Robots are another increasingly important technology in packaging. Manufacturing packaging, folding boxes, loading trucks and fetching packages from a warehouse are all repetitive, heavy physical tasks. That makes them hazardous and inefficient when people do them, but those kinds of workloads are where robots excel.

Robots could automate these repetitive tasks to accomplish them much faster and more safely. Human workers could then focus on more nuanced, engaging tasks. In turn, packaging centers would reduce errors, lower operating costs and maximize throughput.

Smart Packaging Technology Has Significant Potential

These technologies are just a sample of the enormous scope of today’s smart packaging technology. As tech advances, new solutions and improved innovations will emerge and become more accessible.

Smart technologies like these make the packaging industry more transparent, efficient, sustainable and reliable. As more companies take advantage of them, they’ll soon become the norm in the sector, transforming packaging for good.

 

AI

Generative AI Up and Down (and Within) Supply Chains

Improving decision-making along supply chains is strategic work. Inventory management, procurement, and forecasting are some of the main areas large software providers such as SAP, Manhattan Associates, and Blue Yonder Group among others are pouring resources into. Unsurprisingly, artificial intelligence (AI) is front and center. 

Supply chains are chock-full of data. Making sense of said data and arriving at speedy conclusions drives competition. Traditional AI was characterized by its ability to compress information (numbers primarily) into even fewer numbers. At that point, however, a human needed to step in and process the results. Generative AI is the process of algorithms (within traditional AI) creating and generating an output. This could be a photo, video, 3d renderings as well as “advice.” The word advice is still up for interpretation as programs like ChatGPT (an all-purpose chatbot) are not 100% accurate. Yet, its proponents argue, neither are human beings. 

The future of chatbots is both exciting and downright frightening. Nestlé is rumored to be considering how chatbots and generative AI can help in evaluating the company’s security. Meanwhile, Manhattan Associates out of Atlanta is pondering ChatGPT to help streamline its warehousing and transportation operations. Simple questions such as, “where is customer A’s February shipment” could theoretically be answered faster and perhaps more accurately via a generative AI bot and unfettered access to the company’s data. \

Back in late 2019 the medical systems and consumer electronics products manufacturer Koninklijke Philips needed to ramp up the production of medical equipment, specifically ventilators. To do this they needed to scale down production in other areas. The company turned to AI to model the effects as forecasting models became more and more complex during the early-pandemic era. The accuracy is comparable if not better than traditional models and this is the potential power of this next generation of AI – generative AI.

The biggest challenge ChatGPT faces is its power. While supply chain management can certainly be bolstered, the very people using ChatGPT and similar chatbots have management worried. Some fear the data that is being shared (and potentially leaked or compromised). A January 2023 survey by Fishbowl of roughly 12,000 workers revealed over 40% had used ChatGPT and other AI tools while nearly 70% indicated they do so without informing their boss. 

This new iteration of AI is here to stay, but solving supply chain bottlenecks will rely on a release of data that was previously unimaginable. 

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Charting a Course to Battery-Powered Ships 

In the global movement to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, one sector remains largely overlooked: maritime trade. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, ocean-going ships carry more than 80% of world trade by volume and are projected to contribute 17% of man-made carbon emissions by 2050. Yet the decarbonization of maritime vessels lags severely behind the electrification of on-road vehicles. 

To address this issue, the International Maritime Organization has set an ambitious target of cutting carbon emissions from ocean shipping by at least 50% by 2050. For any chance of achieving this goal, the shipping sector will need large-scale adoption of alternative energy sources. So far, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have been the most widely used technology for electrifying the world’s cargo ships, but they’re far from a perfect solution. Here’s a look at the potential of battery-hybrid freighters for reducing carbon emissions, and the technological advances the shipping industry will need to achieve decarbonization. 

 The Future Is Battery-Powered 

Of the zero-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels available on the market, battery systems may be the most promising. A 2022 study by the University of California and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found electric power in the transportation sector to be typically five times more energy-efficient than alternative fuels such as green hydrogen and ammonia.  

 The recent electrification of passenger boats and smaller cargo ships gives us a preview of how battery systems can greatly reduce maritime carbon emissions. Denmark’s ferry Ellen offsets 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year and transports passengers to their destination 15 minutes faster than her fossil fuel-powered counterpart. 

 Switching to battery technology not only eliminates greenhouse gas emissions, it may also help shipping companies cut costs. Due to rising fossil fuel prices and new carbon taxes on marine shipping, ocean freight will no longer be as cost-effective as it used to be. In contrast, battery-powered ships require less maintenance and fewer engineers on board, reducing operations costs. 

 Maritime battery technology is only set to improve in the coming years. Startups are developing ways to make maintenance even more convenient, like a system for replacing individual battery cells when they die rather than an entire battery pack. Others are making battery systems the size of shipping containers for use on smaller cargo vessels, which not only travel longer and farther on electric power but also can access more ports than full-sized freight ships. In light of these recent advances, shipping companies can expect higher returns than ever when they switch to electric-powered vessels. 

 The Limitations of Lithium-Ion 

 Considering the progress so far, what’s stopping ocean shipping from going green? One major obstacle is the lithium-ion technology used to power a majority of electric ships. While they are the most energy-dense and commercially mature type of battery on the market, lithium-ion batteries pose major risks to maritime applications. 

 Runaway battery fires at sea tend to be catastrophic, even more so than those on land. Before a lithium-ion cell in thermal runaway actually catches on fire, it releases toxic gasses such as hydrogen fluoride and carbon monoxide. These flammable vapors may spread throughout a ship for hours before the point of combustion, culminating in a huge explosion that destroys cargo and puts crew members’ lives at risk. Traditional fire suppression systems are not effective at stopping battery fires, which do not require oxygen to burn and can be exacerbated by seawater. 

 Companies have been working on features to make Li-ion batteries safer — better cooling systems; separation between cells to prevent mass thermal runaway — but lithium-ion batteries have already caused significant damage to the marine shipping industry. According to Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty, fire and explosion accidents were the top cause of loss on marine insurance claims in 2021. AGCS and other insurance experts have identified lithium-ion batteries as a significant source of such fires and a growing risk for maritime shippers’ investments. Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard has issued warnings about transporting lithium-ion batteries at all, let alone using the technology to power shipping. 

 What’s Next: A Better Battery 

 Battery technology will continue to improve over time, but lithium-ion chemistry in particular poses too high a fire risk for large-scale adoption by marine shippers. To reach the International Maritime Organization’s decarbonization targets, shipping companies need a power source just as energy-dense and far safer. The company that develops a non-flammable battery chemistry will turn the tide of maritime carbon emissions. 

Mukesh Chatter is the CEO of Alsym Energy, a technology company developing a low-cost, high-performance rechargeable battery chemistry that is free of lithium and cobalt.

 

challenges

The Future of Autonomous Vehicles in Logistics: Challenges and Opportunities

The logistics industry is a colossal and indispensable part of the global economy. It serves as the conduit for the transfer of goods and materials from manufacturers to consumers. In addition, its smooth operation is essential to the functioning of businesses and societies around the world.

In recent times, there has been a growing fascination with the transformative potential of automation, particularly autonomous vehicles (AVs), in the logistics industry. The capabilities of AVs to enhance efficiency, safety, and sustainability hold tremendous promise. It could also  lead to a profound transformation in the transportation of goods.

However, the adoption of AVs in logistics is not without its challenges. We must surmount the development of dependable and secure AV technology, the need for substantial infrastructure investments, and the regulatory barriers. These are among the challenges that must be overcome.

In spite of these challenges, the prospects for AVs in logistics are exceedingly bright. With sustained investment and development, AVs can revolutionize the logistics industry. It can render it more productive, secure, and sustainable.

Let us go into more detail.

The Challenges

There are a number of challenges that need to be addressed before AVs can be widely adopted in the logistics industry. These challenges include:

Safe and reliable AV technology

AV technology is still in its early stages of development. We must address a number of challenges before we can consider it safe and reliable for widespread use in the logistics industry. 

AVs rely on a complex suite of sensors, including cameras, radar, and lidar, to perceive their surroundings. These sensors must be able to accurately detect and track other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, and other objects on the road. They must also be able to handle a variety of weather conditions and road surfaces.

Moreover, even the most advanced AVs are not perfect. There is always the possibility that a sensor or software failure could cause an accident. AVs must therefore be equipped with fail-safe systems that can take over control of the vehicle in the event of a failure.

Infrastructure investment

AVs will require significant investment in infrastructure in order to operate safely and efficiently. As part of this investment, new roads and highways will be constructed that are designed for AVs, as well as new traffic signals and other infrastructure that can communicate with them.

AVs require infrastructure that is specifically designed to accommodate their unique capabilities. This investment will involve the construction of new roads and highways that are wider and provide more space between vehicles, allowing AVs to safely navigate. 

Additionally, new traffic signals and other infrastructure that can communicate with AVs will need to be installed. This will enable AVs to safely maneuver through intersections and other complex traffic environments. Therefore, it is essential that significant investments are made in infrastructure to ensure that AVs can operate safely and efficiently in the future. 

Regulatory hurdles

Before AVs can be used in the logistics industry, there are a few rules and regulations that need to be followed. 

Firstly, regulatory agencies need to confirm that AVs are safe for public roads. This process may take a long time and could cost a lot of money. Secondly, the government needs to make new regulations that govern the use of AVs on public roads. 

These regulations must cover a range of topics like responsibility for accidents, privacy, and cybersecurity. These are some of the obstacles that need to be overcome before AVs can become widely used in the logistics industry.

The Opportunities

Despite the challenges, the future of AVs in logistics is very promising. With continued investment and development, AVs have the potential to transform the logistics industry and make it more efficient, safe, and sustainable.

Better efficiency

One of the main advantages is improved efficiency, as AVs can reduce the need for human drivers. This can lead to lower labor costs, increased productivity, and better fuel efficiency. For instance, AVs can be used in urban areas where traffic congestion and parking are challenging, as well as on long-distance trips where human drivers might get tired and make mistakes.

Improved safety

Another significant benefit is increased safety. By removing human error, autonomous vehicles can reduce accidents. AVs can be programmed to avoid dangerous driving behaviors, such as speeding, tailgating, and running red lights. Additionally, AVs can be equipped with sensors that detect and avoid obstacles, such as pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles.

Greener operations

AVs can also enhance sustainability by reducing fuel consumption and emissions, especially on-road gasoline and diesel consumption. This way, it can help reduce the environmental impact of the logistics industry. For example, AVs can be programmed to drive more efficiently than human drivers, and they can have features that improve fuel efficiency, such as aerodynamic designs and regenerative braking.

Enhanced customer service

Aside from these benefits, AVs can also improve customer service by providing more reliable and timely deliveries of goods and materials. This can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. Moreover, AVs can create new business opportunities for the logistics industry, such as the development of new delivery services and the provision of fleet management services.

Conclusion

AVs can revolutionize the logistics industry by improving efficiency, safety, and sustainability. Yet, before they can be widely adopted, we must address several challenges. Despite these challenges, the future of AVs in logistics is promising. With continued investment and development, AVs could transform the logistics industry and make it more efficient, safe, and sustainable.

fraud workhound shippers logistics management

 Innovations in Logistics Management for Faster and More Efficient Global Trade

Introduction

Logistics management is a critical component of global trade, ensuring that goods are delivered efficiently and on time. However, managing logistics can be complex, requiring coordination across multiple partners and modes of transportation. Innovations in logistics management have the potential to significantly improve supply chain efficiency and reduce costs for businesses. In this article, we’ll explore some of the latest innovations in logistics management and how they can help businesses achieve faster and more efficient global trade.

Section 1: Technology Innovations

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in modern logistics management. The Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling real-time tracking and monitoring of goods, while autonomous vehicles and drones are revolutionizing the way goods are transported. For example, the use of autonomous trucks can reduce transportation costs and increase efficiency by eliminating the need for drivers. In addition, drones can be used to deliver goods to remote or hard-to-reach locations, reducing transportation time and costs.

Some businesses are already leveraging these technologies to streamline their supply chain operations. For instance, Amazon is using drones to deliver packages to customers in some areas, while UPS is using autonomous delivery vehicles to transport packages in select locations. These technologies are also being used to optimize transportation routes and reduce transportation costs, improving the overall efficiency of the supply chain.

As the demand for technology innovations in logistics management grows, so does the need for skilled professionals who can develop and implement these solutions. This is where hiring Scala developers comes into play. Scala is a programming language that has gained popularity for its ability to handle large-scale data processing and real-time analytics, making it an ideal choice for companies looking to develop advanced logistics management solutions. By hiring Scala developers, businesses can tap into the expertise needed to develop cutting-edge logistics management solutions that leverage technologies such as IoT, autonomous vehicles, and drones. With the right team in place, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and improve their supply chain operations for faster and more efficient global trade.

Section 2: Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) are also playing an increasingly important role in logistics management. By analyzing large amounts of data, businesses can gain insights into their supply chain operations and identify areas for improvement. For example, predictive analytics can be used to forecast demand and optimize inventory levels, reducing the risk of stockouts or excess inventory.

AI is also being used to optimize supply chain operations. Machine learning algorithms can be used to analyze data and identify patterns that can be used to improve transportation routes or optimize delivery times. In addition, AI-powered chatbots are being used to improve customer service by providing real-time updates on the status of deliveries or answering customer queries.

Some businesses are already using data analytics and AI to optimize their supply chain operations. For example, DHL is using machine learning algorithms to optimize transportation routes and delivery times, while Walmart is using AI-powered chatbots to improve customer service.

Section 3: Collaboration and Integration

Collaboration and integration are key to optimizing logistics management. By working together, businesses can improve communication and coordination across their supply chains, reducing the risk of delays or errors. Collaborative logistics networks, which bring together multiple partners to share information and resources, are becoming increasingly popular.

Supply chain integration platforms are also being used to improve logistics management. These platforms enable businesses to integrate their supply chain operations, providing real-time visibility into the status of shipments and enabling better coordination across partners. For example, the GT Nexus platform is being used by several businesses to improve supply chain visibility and reduce transportation costs.

Conclusion

Innovations in logistics management are helping businesses achieve faster and more efficient global trade. Technologies such as autonomous vehicles and drones are revolutionizing the way goods are transported, while data analytics and AI are providing insights into supply chain operations and improving decision-making. Collaboration and integration are also becoming increasingly important, enabling businesses to work together to optimize their supply chain operations. As businesses continue to explore new innovations in logistics management, they will be better positioned to succeed in the global marketplace.