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AutoStore Unveils U.S. Headquarters in Salem, New Hampshire

autostore global trade

AutoStore Unveils U.S. Headquarters in Salem, New Hampshire

AutoStore™, the pioneering global warehouse technology company renowned for revolutionizing warehouse automation through modular storage solutions, has disclosed its intentions to relocate its United States headquarters to a state-of-the-art facility in Salem, New Hampshire. This strategic move, slated for April, heralds the creation of over 100 job opportunities within the greater Boston region, underscoring AutoStore’s steadfast commitment to fortifying its presence and investment in the North American Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) market.

Spanning an impressive 40,000 square feet, the new headquarters is primed to deliver enhanced support to end customers through an expanded service team, revamped training initiatives, and immersive onsite technology showcases. A notable addition to this facility is the inauguration of the AutoStore Academy, an innovative platform offering both hands-on and virtual training sessions tailored for integration partners. These sessions will empower participants with the skills to adeptly design, install, maintain, and service the AutoStore System. Complementing this educational endeavor is the Experience Center, featuring a fully operational storage and retrieval system adorned with active robots and workstations arranged across a vast grid. This setup will facilitate live demonstrations and training exercises, offering attendees an unparalleled insight into AutoStore’s cutting-edge technology.

Paul Roy, Vice President and Managing Director of North America at AutoStore, remarked, “With sustained growth momentum across North America, our new U.S. headquarters will serve as a catalyst for expanding the cube-based ASRS market and enhancing warehousing capabilities throughout the region. We are particularly enthusiastic about the hands-on initiatives and regular onsite demonstrations, which will provide our clientele with exclusive opportunities to witness AutoStore’s innovative technology firsthand.”

Renowned for its widespread adoption as the premier automated fulfillment system globally, AutoStore has empowered leading brands and logistics providers such as Puma, Gucci, BestBuy, Medline, Helly Hansen, and DHL to expedite order fulfillment with unparalleled precision, boasting a staggering 99.7% accuracy rate. With over 232 systems, 14 million bins, and 17,000 robots deployed solely in the U.S., the inauguration of the new headquarters will serve as a pivotal pillar in supporting AutoStore’s relentless expansion endeavors across North America.

supply wms global trade WMS global trade warehouse

Optimizing Warehouse Automation: Understanding Key Considerations

Understanding how AS/RS and AMR solutions differ from one another is the first step to not only determine which one is best for your organization’s warehouse, but also where their joint use can optimize workstreams and throughput.

By Andy Lockhart, director of strategic engagement, warehouse solutions, North America, at Vanderlande

Consumers’ affinity for online shopping appears to have finally reached an equilibrium where e-commerce growth is in line with expectations. Although macro-economic trends, such as inflation’s impact on consumers’ buying power and capital costs for sellers, continue to raise questions, most believe we have reached a new normal in which the omnichannel shopper reigns supreme.

The United States Census Bureau’s Quarterly Retail E-Commerce Sales Report quantifies the trends.  While consumers continued to enthusiastically frequent the stores they missed four years ago, e-commerce continues to grow. Total estimated retail sales in the fourth quarter of 2023 increased 2.4% from the fourth quarter of 2022, but e-commerce sales increased by an estimated 7.2% in the same period. Online purchases also accounted for 17.1% of all sales versus 14.7% of all sales in the previous year.

Consider the Software

While robotics and singular innovations like AI receive the lion’s share of hype within the warehousing and DC communities, much of the transformative innovation shaping materials handling operations is taking shape at the software layer, a reflection of the fact that numerous automated systems and machines must be integrated and working in concert with one another to maximize efficiency. For this reason software – from task specific applications like the vision software used by robotic pickers to the platforms that tie everything together – should be carefully considered.

In particular, fulfillment operations should look for the hallmarks of robust software.  These include:

(a) User experience and ease of use;
(b) Security; 
(c) Integration capabilities; and 
(d) Support and service.

In light of this, materials handling and fulfillment organizations for U.S. retailers doing business with global brands are actively looking for ways to not only make their operations more efficient, but also to address a wide range of longstanding hurdles. These include the ongoing challenge of attracting and retaining warehouse and distribution center (DC) employees, higher operational costs, demand for faster delivery times, increased throughput and order accuracy; and greater pressure to avoid the bottlenecks that result from manual operations and processes.

As a result, more companies are looking at where to begin their warehouse automation journey or how to refine it, with fulfillment operations offering the greatest opportunities to drive bottom-line and top-line results. Not surprisingly, Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS) and Automated Mobile Robots (AMRs) are key components in these efforts.

Despite this, many organizations struggle to determine which solution is best for their organization, how AS/RS and AMR solutions differ from one another, and where they can collaborate. These questions only grow more complex when considering the rise of Automated Case-handling Mobile Robots (ACRs). To understand the optimal solution or mix of solutions their organizations’ unique warehouse needs, the following considerations must be made: 

 

  • Dynamic or static? — AS/RS systems are static and typically shuttle-based systems that store and move product to goods-to-person or goods-to-robot pick stations. Once installed, they cannot be easily moved, although when created in a modular fashion – something most AS/RS manufacturers now do – they can easily be expanded to add additional storage and throughput capacity. In contrast, AMRs operate in a dynamic environment, moving among workers and assisting in the sortation and transportation of goods. ACRs include aspects of both – functioning as AMRs but storing and moving products similar to an AS/RS, but using more traditional racks rather than lifts and shuttles, and achieving slower throughput than shuttle-based systems. 

 

  • Sorting, moving, picking or all three? — If you are looking for a warehouse solution that simply moves product within the warehouse, then an AMR is the logical choice. AMRs can dramatically increase a warehouse’s output while addressing what is often the single most significant time sink: the 70% or more of the workday employees spend walking to access and move items.  

 

  • High throughput or even higher throughput? — In operations where maximum throughput is required, a shuttle-based AS/RS is the gold standard, offering not only the speed but also the exceptional sequencing capabilities needed to move high levels of inventory out of storage in the right order. But such systems require scale – more on that below – to function at their full capacity. This of course is relative, as ACRs also achieve high throughput when compared to the manual processes they often augment or replace.  

 

  • How varied are the SKUs you must process? — Today’s AS/RS are widely versatile – some systems handle cartons, trays and totes for greater versatility. However, AMRs can transport an even greater range of SKU than tote-based AS/RS, including heavier or larger items. Regardless of the SKU variety, sequencing needs must be considered as well. As previously noted, AS/RS offer exceptionally robust sequencing abilities.  

 

  • More space around and overhead? — AMRs result in more traffic, which when combined with the humans they function alongside require more warehouse floor space. AS/RS in contrast require a much smaller footprint and offer the potential for far greater storage capacity, but need more overhead height to keep lifts working at all times to achieve maximum throughput capabilities. The taller a structure, the more effective an AS/RS can become, while ACRs – at least for now, are largely limited to racks that are 35 feet high or less.

 

  • Greenfield or brownfield warehouse? — In addition to requiring greater height to maximize efficiency, AS/RS are highly advanced systems best deployed in purpose-built facilities that can take advantage of the smaller footprint they can operate within and feature stronger floors to handle the equipment. In contrast, many older or brownfield facilities do not offer the height and required floor strength, making it easier to deploy an AMR-based solution.

 

  • Is an automated fulfillment system needed right now? — AS/RS systems should be designed to address each organization’s unique needs, whether it’s the need for exceptionally fast throughput and extensive storage density or robotic picking stations. To design, build and test such a system is a project measured in months, not days. In contrast, an ACR system can typically be created and deployed in much less time than a shuttle-based system. AMRs also do not need to be a long-term capital expenditure – a benefit for smaller warehouses that are just beginning their automation journey. This is driving the Robots-as-a-Service trend, in which organizations lease AMRs as needed – for example to augment a picking operation during the peak holiday season.

Just as important as the above considerations, materials handling leaders must remember that AMRs and AS/RS can complement one another. For example, an AMR can move items into reserve storage when overflow capacity is needed, deliver items to an AS/RS system, handle items that are too heavy or large for a shuttle, transport goods as needed from station to another in an AS/RS facility, or even sort goods for individual orders by picking from a pallet or tote. 

Every organization has unique needs, constraints and opportunities that will determine if an AS/RS system, AMR – or ACR – are best for them at any given time. Simultaneously, all warehouse automation should be considered in an integrated fashion, something that requires partners who have experience orchestrating the expanding array of automated solutions omnichannel retailers have to choose from.

Author Bio

Andy Lockhart is the director of strategic engagement, warehouse solutions, North America, where he provides Vanderlande’s retail customers – including many of the world’s best-known brands – with the innovative, scalable systems, intelligent software and reliable services needed to optimize distribution and fulfillment operations. Lockhart received his master’s in electrical and electronics engineering from King’s College London and his bachelor’s in electronic physics from Royal Holloway, University of London.

 

shuttle

HWArobotics Introduces its Reliable, Customizable Shuttle Systems at MODEX 2024

HWArobotics made a significant impact at MODEX 2024 in Atlanta by introducing its cutting-edge shuttle systems, now available to companies across North America. With two decades of experience in the field, HWArobotics showcased its high-quality, reliable, and efficient automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) technology, aiming to expand its presence in the region and forge new partnerships.

The company presented a comprehensive range of ASRS technology, including tote shuttles and pallet shuttles, along with associated cargo lifts, racking, and control software. These systems are designed to optimize logistics and supply chain management operations, boasting system availability of over 99% and delivering high throughput for various industry sectors.

At Booth C3885, attendees had the opportunity to explore HWArobotics’ products, which utilize high-performance components from European suppliers like Siemens, Voestalpine, and Hilti. The showcased SLS300, SLS400, and SLS600 series tote shuttles, along with the FPSS1500 pallet shuttle, exemplify the company’s commitment to durability, efficiency, and versatility.

The SLS300 series standard tote shuttle storage system offers high efficiency and continuous operation for up to 24 hours, achieving speeds of up to 4 m/s and handling up to 120 boxes per hour. The SLS400 series variable tote shuttle system provides compatibility and flexibility, allowing for the mix and storage of containers of different sizes.

Additionally, the SLS600 3D tote shuttle system caters to low-traffic, high-efficiency environments, offering excellent warehouse sharing capabilities and easily adjustable system capacity. The FPSS1500 series pallet shuttle system, designed for warehouses and distribution centers, enhances operational efficiency with its advanced four-directional movement and AI scheduling algorithms.

HWArobotics’ General Manager, Sky Chen, expressed pride in the company’s 20 years of experience as a pioneer in shuttle robot systems, highlighting its commitment to exceptional customer service and technological innovation. The recent deployment of HWArobotics shuttle systems by Darwynn underscores the effectiveness of their technology in automating and optimizing logistics and storage processes.

With a strong global customer base, including prominent names like Bosch UAES, Hisense Hitachi, SONY, and JD.com, HWArobotics aims to enhance the competitiveness of North American businesses by offering intelligent warehouse and manufacturing plant upgrading solutions. Their advanced shuttle systems represent a significant leap forward in the field of warehousing and logistics automation.

greyorange

GreyOrange Enhances Warehouse Efficiency for Flaconi, a Leading Beauty Retailer

Flaconi, a prominent online beauty and perfume retailer in Germany, has chosen GreyOrange Inc., an AI-driven fulfillment automation leader, to optimize its warehouse operations for faster and more efficient product distribution to customers.

The collaboration involves flaconi implementing GreyOrange’s GreyMatter™ fulfillment orchestration platform alongside a fleet of 70 GreyOrange Ranger™ Assist robots. By adopting the Robots as a Service (RaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) model, flaconi gains the flexibility to scale its warehouse operations according to demand, particularly during peak seasons. GreyOrange’s RaaS and SaaS solutions enable flaconi to expedite order fulfillment through features like dynamic zoning, hybrid picking, and GreyMatter’s intelligent workload distribution to the robots.

Kurt-Alexander Westphal, Team Lead Operations Excellence at flaconi, highlighted the strategic advantage of quickly deploying additional robots during peak seasons to ensure timely delivery of beauty products. He emphasized that the automation deployment with GreyOrange Ranger Assist robots allows flaconi’s teams to focus on more strategic tasks, enhancing daily operations and scalability.

flaconi’s decision to partner with GreyOrange was influenced by GreyMatter’s versatility in handling a wide range of product SKUs, including fragile items, with precision. The GreyMatter platform’s ability to integrate various technologies under a unified control system further appealed to flaconi.

Akash Gupta, Co-Founder and CEO of GreyOrange, emphasized the company’s commitment to providing flaconi and similar customers with comprehensive hardware and software solutions to gain competitive advantages and exceed customer expectations. Gupta highlighted GreyOrange’s global support network, ensuring seamless implementation and ongoing assistance for customers like flaconi as they scale their operations.

AGV

Efficient Stacking Solutions: Heli’s Kollmorgen-Equipped AGVs Revolutionize Automated Warehousing

In the realm of automated manufacturing, Heli has emerged as a pioneer, showcasing how tailored solutions can transform warehouse operations. By integrating Kollmorgen technology into specialized high-reach Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), Heli successfully tackled the unique challenge of stacking 3-ton pallets of soft bags with finesse and precision. This innovative approach not only elevated efficiency and safety but also marked a significant leap in operational reliability.

At a urea manufacturing plant in Xinxiang, China, a Chemical Company embraced the concept of smart automation and sought to optimize its warehouse processes. The goal was to seamlessly move heavy pallets laden with soft bags of fertilizers from packaging to storage and onward to the outbound goods area. The introduction of AGVs became a pivotal part of this initiative, enabling the company to achieve 24-hour operation with a consistent and predictable throughput.

Heli, as the driving force behind this transformative endeavor, implemented specialized high-reach AGVs, leveraging the cutting-edge capabilities of Kollmorgen NDC Solutions. These solutions encompassed order routing, traffic management, vehicle navigation, and control, all powered by laser navigation technology operating on a robust 5G network. The integration with the Warehouse Management System (WMS) ensured a seamless flow of operations, enhancing overall warehouse efficiency.

A distinctive challenge in this project involved the need for AGVs to adeptly stack two tiers of pallets, each carrying soft bags weighing up to 3 tons. The varying compression of bag contents on the lower pallets presented a potential hurdle, which Heli addressed by equipping the AGVs with high-precision fork sensors. These sensors granted the AGVs the ability to execute loading and unloading tasks with flexible position tolerance, overcoming the complexities associated with uneven bag compression.

The Chemical Company has lauded the automation initiative as a resounding success. Impressively, the implementation timeline from project initiation to operational site was less than six months, with AGV commissioning completed within a mere 45 days. Heli’s AGVs, featuring Kollmorgen technology, have not only ushered in safer operations with minimal damage to goods and equipment but have also significantly enhanced precision and efficiency, resulting in an impressive 60% cost savings. This success story underscores the transformative impact of innovative AGV solutions in the evolving landscape of automated warehousing.

intelligent warehouse

The Top 5 Inexpensive Warehouse Automation Solutions

Logistics leaders may hesitate to implement upgrades due to their estimated warehouse automation cost calculations. They can be substantial, climbing into the millions of dollars. However, there are various types of warehouse automation to consider, so people can prioritize the least expensive possibilities rather than ruling out automating some processes. 

1. Motor-Driven Roller Conveyors

Warehouse workers don’t make the best use of their time when moving goods from place to place. This approach also prevents them from doing other, more valuable tasks. However, motor-driven roller (MDR) conveyors are affordable ways to automate product movement through a warehouse. 

MDR conveyors can also alleviate warehouse automation cost concerns if people switch to them after using other types. For example, replacing a 5-foot chain-driven live roller with an MDR of the same length could save as much as 81% in energy usage, making the change an excellent investment. That’s partially because they only use electricity when moving things. 

People with modest conveyor belt budgets should make the most of their resources by considering which processes or areas of the warehouse could most benefit from this type of automation. Ordering conveyors in precisely the length needed will keep costs down and help them immediately start taking advantage of this investment. 

2. Warehouse Management Systems

A warehouse management system (WMS) can automate numerous tasks, and people will get the best results if they take the time to learn what’s possible and how to take advantage of the various features. These systems are ideal for eliminating manual tasks such as monitoring inventory levels or counting items. 

Many facilities achieve significant accuracy and product volume gains after implementing WMS. Even if the initial costs are higher than desired, they often pay for themselves over time by enabling process improvements and reducing errors. 

People can also use WMS platforms to create digital guides showing all merchandise locations and storing similar products together in the warehouse. Those are more reliable than paper copies, which can easily get lost or damaged. Plus, a document showing how to find different products is particularly valuable for newer employees who need to become more acquainted with a warehouse’s layout.

WMS providers often allow customers to opt for monthly or yearly billing cycles. The latter type is usually less expensive. However, when decision-makers are on tight budgets and not ready for long-term commitments, they may go with monthly bills to see whether the chosen solutions work as well as expected. 

WMS platforms may also include free trials that let people see what they offer before making billing cycle decisions. Alternatively, product walkthroughs led by sales representatives provide similar information without as much freedom for potential customers to explore the software themselves. 

3. Predictive Maintenance Sensors

Statistics suggest that 90% of maintenance work involves addressing crisis breakdowns. In an ideal situation, people would spend much more time keeping critical machines in good condition, making those urgent circumstances much less common. Predictive maintenance sensors enable this. 

Many commercial solutions automatically collect data and alert the proper parties to abnormalities. Sensors are extremely versatile compared to other warehouse automation types with more limited applications. People can use them on almost any piece of equipment and enjoy the assuredness of getting real-time information streams. 

People can also customize the total warehouse automation cost for this approach by deciding how many sensors they want to use and for what reasons. Being strategic about the options lowers expenses and helps decision-makers get the desired results. 

One possibility is determining which warehouse machinery pieces break down most often.

Alternatively, people can choose those that take the longest to fix or cause the biggest disruptions when issues arise. Next, they should purchase sensors to measure the most common symptoms of abnormalities, whether elevated temperatures, strange vibrations or something else. 

4. Pay-Per-Use Types of Warehouse Automation

Automating a warehouse requires financial resources, even when people aim to do it as affordably as possible. That’s one of the main reasons for the increase in services that allow access to various types of automation without the typical high upfront costs. This trend has resulted in the automation-as-a-service market. 

The specifics differ by provider. Generally, customers pay fees depending on how much they use the automated equipment in a given month. Their subscription prices usually include all maintenance, repair and upgrade costs. 

One company that recently began offering a pay-per-pick model to customers requires them to pay upfront fees to cover the necessary grid infrastructure. The estimated warehouse automation cost in such instances is 20%-40% of the total expenses. After installing the grid, clients budget for recurring subscription fees based on how many robots and other associated technologies they require to meet goals. 

5. Automated Mobile Robots 

Automated mobile robots (AMRs) provide the material-moving capabilities of conveyor belts with even more flexibility. AMRs have sensors and built-in computer vision technology, allowing them to automatically map out a warehouse and recognize obstacles. This means they can move safely around facilities without requiring extra infrastructure. 

People with cost-related concerns should discuss them with their preferred automation providers. Many companies offer finance plans so customers can spread the costs over time. Some may offer refurbished machines priced more reasonably than newer ones. 

Keeping AMRs affordable also means scaling up gradually. A decision-maker might initially only buy a few for some of the most labor- and time-intensive transport-related tasks. That’s an excellent strategy for ensuring people get the anticipated return on investment before purchasing more. 

Warehouse leaders should also ask for feedback from employees, learning about which movement-related tasks are most cumbersome or often take them away from other duties. Those responsibilities could be among the best to automate first. 

Control Warehouse Automation Cost Hesitancy

These types of warehouse automation solutions are among the most affordable possibilities, provided the people involved think carefully about how and why to use them. Although automating a facility requires investments, people can keep costs down by remembering they can gradually implement their plans and wait to see results before committing to additional technologies.

forklift warehouse

How Are Advanced Forklifts Transforming the Warehouse Environment?

Modern warehouses are under immense pressure to meet demand and satisfy clients. Thus, facility managers must search for ways to improve efficiency without compromising their employees’ safety. They’re achieving this goal by incorporating advanced forklifts in their operations.

The technology in these machines has made tremendous strides in the past couple of decades. These advancements demonstrate how advanced forklifts are transforming the warehouse environment.

Implementing Automation

Automation has become a more significant part of warehouses and other workplaces worldwide. Experts predict the global industrial automation market will grow 10.5% annually from 2023 to 2030. Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are more crucial than ever, leading warehouse managers to implement automation through their forklifts.

Forklifts with these abilities include automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots. AGVs can move independently throughout the warehouse and need minimal human control to get the job done. Autonomous forklifts can identify and pick up pallets on the warehouse floor, and transport them to the necessary destination.

Improving Navigation

An added benefit of automation is an advanced forklift’s ability to navigate the warehouse floor, selecting the most efficient paths to reach its destination. The machine uses algorithms and advanced analytics to study traffic over time, thus finding ways to reduce power consumption and transportation time.

Advanced forklifts take advantage of the latest technology to ensure smooth navigation. These machines use light detection and ranging, cameras and sensors for object detection, and navigation software for creating maps. AI is critical for advanced forklifts as they adjust to the warehouse environment. Additionally, their ability to adapt to situations makes them a stronger asset over time.

Collecting Data

Data collection is at the crux of modern forklifts. This ability lets the equipment learn more about its surroundings and improve its ability to work in a warehouse. Collecting data also makes work easier for managers because the machines can complete this task autonomously. Human employees can then focus on the bigger picture instead of worrying about time-consuming jobs.

While forklifts collect data for navigation, they also collect information on various warehouse elements. Warehouse managers can take advantage of advanced forklifts for these uses:

    • Predictive maintenance: Advanced forklifts tend to last longer because their sensors can tell when they’ll require maintenance. Operators know when their machines need service sooner with this information, ensuring uptime stays as high as possible.
  • Tracking performance: Increasing efficiency at every corner is critical, so warehouse managers have started employing advanced forklifts to track performance. The collected data shows how efficiently the operator works and what they can do to improve.
  • Inventory management: Inventory management is among the most critical data advanced forklifts collect. These AGVs roam the warehouse floor and provide real-time information on stock levels, helping warehouse managers avoid stockouts.

Changing the Workforce

Advanced forklifts have expanded their capabilities, making them as valuable as humans in the warehouse. These machines are practical because they don’t become fatigued like people, letting them work for more extended periods with fewer breaks in between. The only necessary stoppages are for refueling or recharging the battery.

Introducing advanced forklifts changes the workforce within the warehouse. Managers can worry less about labor shortages as more autonomous machines enter the facility. Keeping and finding reliable human workers can be complex, considering the high turnover rate in warehouse jobs. The American Journal of Transportation says transportation, utilities and warehousing experienced a 49% turnover rate in 2021 — an increase of 8 percentage points since 2017.

Lowering Environmental Impact

Increased warehouse demand leads to 24-hour operations and more energy used. Shareholders and consumers have become increasingly concerned about power consumption and its effects on the environment, which is why many warehouses have turned to renewables to lower their impact and build their reputation. Electric forklifts provide the opportunity to achieve these sustainability goals.

Electric forklifts emit very little pollution, minimizing their ecological impact. They also have fewer internal moving parts than gas-powered forklifts, making them easier to maintain and more reliable in the long run. Besides air pollution, electric forklifts also improve noise pollution inside the warehouse, fostering better communication and reducing the risk of hearing loss on the job.

Electric forklifts have evolved to emulate electric vehicle technology. For example, these machines typically employ regenerative braking to recapture energy lost during braking. The reclaimed power helps equipment last longer and increases productivity, even while considering battery-electric forklifts can have limited ranges.

What Are the Advantages of Advanced Forklifts?

While best warehouse practices change annually, advanced forklift technology paves the way for logistics professionals. Here are a few benefits these machines give warehouse managers.

1. Productivity

Experts predict a 10% compound annual growth rate in e-commerce between 2023 and 2028, so productivity is a priority for warehouse managers. Advanced forklifts enhance productivity, and deliver results by working around the clock and requiring fewer breaks. AGVs don’t feel physical or mental fatigue, so their capacity to work effectively is higher than most humans.

2. Safety

Protecting employees is a chief concern for warehouse managers. Thankfully, it’s become a priority, considering workplace injuries increased by 7.5% from 2021 to 2022. Advanced forklifts reduce the risk of injury by taking over the most demanding tasks. Additionally, their sensors can detect unsafe conditions inside the facility and assist the operator while running.

3. Operating Costs

While advanced forklifts can be pricey, they bring lower operating costs over time. Optimizing routes and reducing fuel consumption are two ways warehouse managers can lower operating costs while maintaining efficiency. Switching to an advanced electric forklift can eliminate fossil-fuel consumption, further increasing profitability.

What Are the Challenges of Advanced Forklifts?

Advanced forklifts will become more commonplace for logistics professionals, but they have drawbacks. Here are a few challenges warehouse managers face with this new technology.

1. Upfront Costs

Innovative technology comes at a high price — AGVs can exceed $100,000, depending on the manufacturer and the machine’s size. Smaller operations may be unable to afford this and will have to wait for costs to come down. Organizations able to take on that expense must account for maintenance and integration costs on top of the initial price tag.

2. Learning Curve

Integrating an advanced forklift into warehouse operations requires time and resources. A machine with autonomous capabilities needs time to learn the warehouse floor and optimize itself. Additionally, employees will need time to adjust to this new technology.

3.Cybersecurity

Incorporating advanced technology accelerates productivity and efficiency. However, it also comes with risks, such as cybersecurity concerns. Collecting and storing large amounts of data leaves companies vulnerable to losing valuable and sensitive information. Research shows about 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses, so this problem extends to warehouses of all sizes.

Moving Warehouse Environments Forward With Advanced Forklifts

The past few years have presented numerous challenges for warehouses, prompting managers worldwide to reevaluate their practices. Considering the rising e-commerce demand and shifting business landscape, the next decade of operations will be critical. 

Advanced forklifts and similar technologies are moving warehouse environments forward by increasing productivity while lowering process costs.

snapcontrol

SnapControl by Synergy Logistics: Revolutionizing Warehouse Automation with Data-Driven Precision

Synergy Logistics, a frontrunner in warehouse technology, is celebrating the success of its cutting-edge multi-agent orchestration platform, SnapControl. This innovative software is proving to be a game changer for warehouses, providing seamless control over all automation devices and robots within distribution centers.

SnapControl distinguishes itself by offering comprehensive data capture capabilities, enabling businesses to assess real-time operational value generated by each device. This data-driven approach empowers decision-making, ensuring optimal performance and efficiency. The software’s inaugural deployment with a prominent U.S. online retailer showcased its transformative capabilities.

Through data analysis, SnapControl optimized task allocation between human and automated resources, achieving a remarkable sixfold increase in productivity. This translated into substantial labor savings, exceeding half a million dollars, with an impressive investment payback period of just 23 weeks, resulting in savings of over $40,000 per week on average.

Out of more than 40,000 stock picks, SnapControl seamlessly controlled over 24,000 automated tasks, equivalent to 61% of the workload. This automation significantly lightened the workload for existing warehouse staff, showcasing the software’s effectiveness in streamlining operations.

Smitha Raphael, Chief Product & Delivery Officer for Synergy Logistics, highlighted the software’s swift deployment, emphasizing its value in providing a complete data picture for tangible labor savings, accurate asset management decisions, and rapid time to value.

SnapControl seamlessly integrates with the warehouse management system (WMS) SnapFulfil and is compatible with any other incumbent WMS, Order Management System (OMS), or e-commerce front-end system. This versatility allows SnapControl to orchestrate task prioritization, automate workflow allocation, and assess the suitability of devices for specific operations.

With its comprehensive capabilities, SnapControl emerges as a pivotal tool in the landscape of distribution center automation. By interpreting bi-directional communication between machines and advanced WMS, the software facilitates efficient, automated decision-making—a critical component of the second wave of automation recognized by industry analysts. This targeted automation approach positions SnapControl as a key player in driving productivity improvements as robot fleets expand from various vendors and diversified portfolios.

AI warehouse gartner

Research from Gartner Predicts Over 75% of Companies Will Adopt Warehouse Automation By 2027 

GreyOrange is recognized in three categories of the 2023 Gartner® Hype Cycle™ for Supply Chain Execution Technologies.

A recent Gartner report predicts that “by 2027, over 75% of companies will have adopted some form of cyber-physical automation within their warehouse operations.” GreyOrange Inc., a global leader in automated robotic fulfillment and inventory optimization software, is recognized as a Sample Vendor in three technology segments of the Gartner report, Hype Cycle for Supply Chain Execution Technologies, 2023 for Multiagent Orchestration Platforms, Mobile Sortation Robots, and Mobile Robotic Goods-to-Person Systems.

With solutions like the GreyMatter™ fulfillment orchestration platform and collection of autonomous mobile (AMR) robots and other execution agents under its Certified RangerTM Network (CRN) that can help businesses, GreyOrange was reported as a vendor in the categories of Multiagent Orchestration (MAO) Platforms, Goods-to-Person (GSP) Systems and Mobile Sortation Robots.

According to Gartner, “As robot fleets expand, companies will have to transition management practices from a focus on people to a focus on automation design, which will drive the need for these types of solutions. As robots assume more responsibility for process execution, the process changes can be dramatic. Work assignment processes, which were largely built for people, will need to be completely redesigned. As robotic fleets become more heterogeneous, coordinating work between robot platforms becomes more difficult while important.”

The GreyMatter fulfillment orchestration platform demonstrates GreyOrange’s industry leadership as the company has redesigned the automation execution process.

“At GreyOrange we pride ourselves in leading the industry in automation software by offering a solution that allows other robotic vendors to seamlessly integrate into our GreyMatter fulfillment orchestration platform to create one complete, fully-customized system,” said Akash Gupta, co-founder and CEO, GreyOrange. “Given the complexity of meeting end-to-end fulfillment needs that include using real-time data to distribute work amongst and communicate with diverse fleets of agents, mapping and decision-making must be automated as much as possible.”

wwex iot market suppliers EMO logistics fuel warehouse

E-Commerce Boom and Its Impact on Logistic Operations

Introduction

The world of commerce has undergone a seismic shift in recent years, with the relentless rise of e-commerce. In this article, we delve into the profound implications this e-commerce boom has had on logistic operations. As online shopping becomes the norm, logistics has emerged as the unsung hero of the digital age, playing a pivotal role in ensuring goods reach consumers efficiently and on time.

The Challenges of E-Commerce Logistics

Last-Mile Delivery Complexities

In the realm of e-commerce, the final leg of delivery—the last mile—is often the most challenging. Navigating through congested urban areas and ensuring timely doorstep deliveries poses logistical puzzles that demand innovative solutions. Drone deliveries and autonomous vehicles are just a glimpse of the technologies reshaping the last mile.

Inventory Management in the Digital Age

E-commerce demands a level of inventory agility that traditional retail seldom does. Real-time inventory tracking and demand forecasting are now paramount. Warehouse automation and RFID technology are helping businesses stay ahead of the curve.

Seasonal Fluctuations and Demand Forecasting

Seasonal shopping peaks and unforeseen demand surges require logistics to adapt rapidly. Machine learning algorithms are being employed to analyze historical data and predict future buying patterns, enabling more agile supply chains.

Returns Management and Reverse Logistics

The convenience of online shopping has given rise to a corresponding surge in product returns. Efficient returns management and reverse logistics are now integral parts of e-commerce logistics, demanding sophisticated processes and infrastructure.

Technological Advancements in E-Commerce Logistics

Automation and Robotics in Warehousing

Warehouses are transforming into high-tech hubs. Automated robots are efficiently picking, packing, and even conducting inventory checks, reducing labor costs and enhancing accuracy.

Data Analytics for Demand Prediction

The power of big data is harnessed for predictive analytics. Algorithms crunch vast datasets to anticipate consumer preferences, allowing for proactive stock replenishment and optimized distribution.

Artificial Intelligence for Route Optimization

Logistics providers are harnessing AI to optimize delivery routes, considering factors like traffic, weather, and real-time demand fluctuations, ensuring quicker deliveries.

Blockchain for Supply Chain Transparency

Blockchain technology is elevating supply chain transparency to new heights. Consumers can trace the journey of their products from source to doorstep, fostering trust and integrity.

Sustainable Practices in E-Commerce Logistics

Eco-Friendly Packaging Solutions

The environmental impact of e-commerce packaging has raised concerns. Biodegradable and recyclable materials are being embraced, reducing the carbon footprint of e-commerce logistics.

Green Transportation and Carbon Footprint Reduction

Logistics companies are adopting electric vehicles and exploring alternative fuels to reduce emissions. The focus on eco-friendly transportation is in line with growing sustainability expectations.

Sustainable Warehousing Practices

Energy-efficient warehouses with smart lighting and climate control systems are becoming the norm. Solar panels and rainwater harvesting further exemplify sustainable warehousing.

The Global Impact of E-Commerce Logistics

Cross-Border E-Commerce and International Shipping

E-commerce transcends borders, making international shipping an everyday occurrence. Navigating customs regulations and ensuring timely global deliveries are now integral aspects of logistics.

Customs and Trade Compliance Challenges

As e-commerce connects buyers and sellers worldwide, customs compliance becomes paramount. Navigating intricate trade regulations requires expertise and precision.

Supply Chain Resilience in a Globalized World

Global supply chains, while offering vast opportunities, are vulnerable to disruptions. Robust contingency plans and diversified sourcing are critical for supply chain resilience.

The Evolution of Fulfillment Centers

Multi-Channel Fulfillment Strategies

E-commerce businesses often operate on multiple platforms. Streamlined multi-channel fulfillment strategies are essential for efficiency and consistency.

Micro-Fulfillment Centers for Urban Efficiency

In urban centers, micro-fulfillment centers are emerging to meet the demand for swift deliveries. Compact, tech-savvy hubs are reducing last-mile delivery times.

Dark Stores and Their Role in E-Commerce Logistics

Dark stores, or retail locations solely dedicated to fulfilling online orders, are reshaping logistics. They facilitate faster picking and packing, reducing delivery times.

The Importance of Customer Experience in E-Commerce Logistics

Timely Delivery as a Competitive Advantage

In the era of e-commerce, timely delivery is a competitive differentiator. Logistics that fail to meet delivery promises risk customer dissatisfaction and attrition.

Personalization and Customer Expectations

E-commerce logistics isn’t just about delivering products; it’s about delivering experiences. Personalization and catering to unique customer expectations are crucial for brand loyalty. 

This becomes especially vital in the context of fashion products, such as stylish leather pants, suits, jackets, and the like. Personalization has the potential to significantly impact customer satisfaction and loyalty, as it enables customers to feel appreciated and recognized in a competitive digital marketplace

Managing Customer Communication

Effective communication throughout the delivery process, from order confirmation to tracking information, is vital in managing customer expectations and building trust.

E-Commerce Marketplaces and Their Influence on Logistics

The Dominance of Amazon and Its Logistics Network

Amazon’s logistical prowess has redefined e-commerce. Its vast network, including fulfillment centers and delivery services, has set new standards for speed and efficiency.

Emerging Marketplaces and Their Logistics Models

As e-commerce diversifies, new marketplaces emerge with distinct logistics models. Understanding these models is essential for businesses seeking to expand their reach.

Independent E-Commerce Retailers and Their Unique Challenges

Smaller e-commerce players face distinct logistic challenges. Balancing cost-effective logistics with customer expectations is a constant juggling act.

The Future of E-Commerce Logistics

Hyperlocal Delivery and Instant Gratification

Consumers are increasingly expecting hyperlocal deliveries and instant gratification. Hyper-local fulfillment centers and real-time delivery tracking are poised to meet these demands.

Integration of Augmented Reality in the Supply Chain

Augmented reality is revolutionizing logistics training, maintenance, and even order picking. Its integration promises greater efficiency and reduced errors.

Sustainability as a Key Driver of Innovation

Sustainability isn’t just a trend; it’s a driving force behind logistic innovation. Businesses that prioritize sustainability are poised to lead in the evolving e-commerce landscape.

Conclusion

Adapting to the E-Commerce Boom: Key Takeaways for Logistics

In closing, the e-commerce boom has fundamentally transformed logistics. To thrive in this digital age, logistics operations must adapt, innovate, and embrace sustainability. The future of logistics is intertwined with the continued growth of e-commerce, and those who navigate these changes effectively will emerge as the leaders of tomorrow’s supply chain landscape.