by Rob Fisher, Event Director, IMHX
The relentless rise of e-commerce is forcing retailers and logistics operators to adapt their facilities to keep pace with the demands of today’s technology-enabled consumers, who are demanding ever-faster and more flexible delivery of goods.
As a result, traditional storage warehouses are being radically transformed into massive high-volume order-fulfilment centres, with higher racking and narrower aisles to ensure that every square inch of the site is optimised.
The technology deployed within these facilities is evolving too. Developments in intralogistics systems are advancing more rapidly than ever, as operators search for greater reliability, faster fulfilment and higher efficiency.
Changes in the ways modern e-fulfiment warehouses operate are, not surprisingly, being driven by developments in automation, robotics and AI. For decades, automation has been used to complete various processes – including storage, inventory control, transport, picking, packing and loading – in more efficient and cost-effective ways. Until recently, the robots used in warehouses have largely been employed to assemble basic pallet loads so that they are ready for dispatch. Now, however, robotics is quickly closing in on the logistics holy grail: order picking for e-commerce fulfilment.
Traditionally, picking and palletising are the most time-consuming processes in the warehouse, and make up around 60 per cent of operational costs. With workers to carry out these tasks becoming harder to find too, there is a growing realisation that automation and self-learning smart-data systems can meet today’s diverse and growing demands.
The growing role of artificial intelligence and technology within the modern supply chain will be reflected at IMHX 2019 – this year at the UK’s largest and longest-running logistics exhibition, more than a third of new exhibitors will be showcasing some form of automation, warehouse robotics, AI, autonomous vehicles or new tech. This reflects the growing demand in the logistics market for this increasingly essential technology, capable of delivering operational benefits and the competitive advantages sought by modern retailers who attend as visitors to assess and evaluate this tech in action.
For the providers of warehouse automation, AI and robotics, the outlook is positive: research recently undertaken by the organisers of IMHX alongside Sapio Research confirmed that nearly half (47 per cent) of warehouse operators are looking to implement automated technology within the next 12 months, with a promising 76 per cent anticipating significant growth in this time.
To discover more about the ways warehouse automation and robotics are transforming the UK supply chain, register your interest for IMHX, taking place from the 14 – 16 September 2021 at the NEC Birmingham.
Register your interest here.