CeMAT: Warehouses turning to autonomous vehicles to keep up with ecommerce growth

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CeMAT Update: Logistics companies are increasingly acquiring robotics and automation technology to make their operations more efficient and keep up with the growth of the online economy

“Due to booming e-commerce, customers have new needs,” said Dr Henry Puhl, chairman of Still management in Hamburg.

“The shipment sizes, for example, and the variety of products. Things are getting smaller and, therefore, there is more short-term seasonality, which is accompanied by strong volume fluctuations.”

This leads to the development of logistics solutions which offer more customized products in smaller quantities.

“In addition, it is essential to take into account regional requirements, that are brought about by globalization to us,” says Puhl. “Customers must be able to make their processes more flexible in order to remain competitive.” 

At the same time it is necessary to continuously increase productivity and to use less energy and resources to meet the growing cost pressure and environmental regulations.

At the present time it is no longer sufficient for the customer to sell a truck, with which he can transport his goods from A to B. It is much more important, to allow him an intelligent and flexible control of its logistics processes, so they can be ready faster, easier and more cost-efficient. Here, the interplay of forklifts and warehouse equipment, software, services and service is crucial.

Permanent optimization pressure

Logistics processes are under constant pressure optimization.

“Currently we see that trucks are increasingly more closely involved in production processes,” says Michael Röbig, head of marketing at Hubtex.

“As a manufacturer, we are faced with the challenge to provide our customers an individual and economical solution.”

Hubtex is restructuring its operations so that increasingly individual requirements are met and, if possible, the techniques can be applied to other situations.

The result of Hubtex’s development is the construction of a modular system of different assistance systems that can be expanded in their combination to a fully automated system.

“The added value for the customer ultimately emerges through the joint coordination of employment requirement and Options,” so Röbig. “The degree of automation generally increases with the complexity of the application request.”

Fast-growing market

The automation of industrial trucks is currently the fastest growing segment of the logistics market – which is also in the house Toyota Material Handling (TMHE). Apart from the advantages in terms of safety are also in the specific efficiency and productivity gains reasons for the growing interest in this area.

“Automation solutions require a detailed process analysis and require good advice, which goes beyond the sale,” says Mats Lindell, director logistics solutions TMHE Germany.

“A transparent consultation, which answers all customer questions and accompanies the process of change, especially during the introduction of the system, this is the A and O.”

This development had many causes: “On the one hand we notice a change in customer structures: The growing number of large customers, the so-called key-account customers and their market significance exert an increasing ‘market power’,” said Lindell.

“This tendency is particularly strong, and can be observed, in groups with a high traffic volume.”

More goods would have to be handled in less time in order to ensure an efficient and reliable logistics around the clock. At the same time the labor market is very healthy, and as a high level of employment on – that make recruiting appropriate technical staff to operate the Handling challenging. In addition, new software and hardware developments driving the automation of industrial trucks and carriers moving forward.

For Jungheinrich, digitization and automation very clear trends in intralogistics.

“We live with intralogistics 4.0,” says sales director Dr Lars Brzoska. “We support our customers in the internal work processes in the warehouse and the production control and optimization software, networked sensors and automated vehicles and systems – and the only provider with a holistic solution offerings from a single source.”

The company is currently in a process of change, illustrative and the motto Growing with Passion. The future lies for Jungheinrich increasingly in the field of logistics systems and holistic solution offerings.

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