There will be 35 million autonomous trucks on the road by 2020, says Frost

Business consultancy Frost & Sullivan expects 35 million connected and autonomous trucks will be on the roads by 2020.

Connected trucks will be integral to future logistics and freight operations as smart trucks will be a necessity in smart cities, says Frost.

And in what may be a controversial prediction Frost says: “By 2020, 35 million trucks are expected to be connected with digital freight solutions and autonomous technologies, transforming the trucking industry into a smarter, efficient and more productive sector.”  Continue reading There will be 35 million autonomous trucks on the road by 2020, says Frost

Ingram Micro investing $10 million in warehouse automation startup HDS Global

Computer technology provider Ingram Micro is to invest $10 million into warehouse automation startup HDS Global, according to a report on the Wall Street Journal

HDS is said to be developing “swarm” software which enables different robotic systems to work together in warehouses.

Ingram, which claims to be the world’s largest distributor of computer and technology products, handles online orders for large retailers such as Wal-Mart.  Continue reading Ingram Micro investing $10 million in warehouse automation startup HDS Global

Opinion: Materials handling automation and robotics requires IIoT monitoring

By John Hayes, Vecna Robotics

There is a frequent complaint of Industry 4.0, Big Data, and the Industrial Internet of Things. Too much data, little of which can be accessed and used effectively.

From tuggers, automated guided carts, and automated guided vehicles, there is a real need to include IIoT monitoring which defines the next phase of automation and robotics in materials handling.

Without IIoT monitoring, plant managers, operations managers, logistics coordinators throughout manufacturing and distribution sectors lack the data collected which offers real-time continuous status and health information.  Continue reading Opinion: Materials handling automation and robotics requires IIoT monitoring

DHL could stop Amazon from taking over the world. Probably

It’s not a glamorous business, logistics. Doesn’t make the mainstream news very often. And it’s not likely to be the top career choice for most people. 

It’s understandable. After all, how interesting can it be to move boxes from point A to point B?

Put like that, it’s not much to write home about. But now, with driverless vehicles everywhere, augmented reality glasses and exoskeletons for warehouse workers, and robotics and automation technologies of all kinds promising to transform the industry worldwide, logistics is about to get much more interesting.  Continue reading DHL could stop Amazon from taking over the world. Probably

DHL invests in four new Sawyer collaborative robots from Rethink Robotics

DHL has invested in four new Sawyer robots in order to evaluate the solution as part of its robotics research and development programme.

The company describes the purchase of the Sawyer robots as “the first step” in its robotics deployment journey.

DHL says the collaborative robots will be flexibly used across its 19 contract packing, or “co-packing”, and production logistics centres across the UK and Ireland region.  Continue reading DHL invests in four new Sawyer collaborative robots from Rethink Robotics

Kiva Systems developers launch new company and their own logistics robot

Kiva Systems was a company that built a mobile robot for logistics operations, mainly for use in warehouses. It was a basically a small platform on wheels, and proved popular throughout the industry.

But then it got bought out by Amazon, which initially said it would still sell it to the rest of the logistics industry but actually didn’t. Instead it rebranded Kiva as Amazon Robotics and turned it into a business unit of its own.

The online retail giant now has one of the largest number of robots in operation of any company in the world.

But two former executives at Kiva Systems – Jerome Dubois and Rylan Hamilton – have now launched a new company and a range of new logistics automation solutions.  Continue reading Kiva Systems developers launch new company and their own logistics robot

Bharati Robotics shows off autonomous industrial cleaning robot

bharati agv crop
The Bharati autonomous guided vehicle for materials transport

Bharati Robotics Systems has been showing off its new autonomous industrial floor cleaning robots. 

The company says the small vehicle saves labour costs and increases productivity by up to 200 per cent, and cleans the floor better than humans, or the “highest quality of cleaning”.

The robot’s battery lasts up to four hours on one charge and it has a smartphone interface through which it can be monitored and controlled.  Continue reading Bharati Robotics shows off autonomous industrial cleaning robot

ST Engineering acquires Aethon, maker of the TUG autonomous mobile vehicles

aethon logistics robot

Singapore Technologies Engineering has acquired Aethon and its autonomous mobile robot, TUG, usually seen performing some logistical task or other. 

ST Engineering is a $5 billion engineering firm with global operations and strong expertise in mobile robotics.

The value of the deal was not made public.

Aethon will become a division of ST Engineering’s US headquarters, VT Systems and will be part of the group’s land systems sector which is led by ST Kinetics, which is focused on robot technology innovation.  Continue reading ST Engineering acquires Aethon, maker of the TUG autonomous mobile vehicles

Next generation pick-to-light offers dynamic automation scalability

Pick-to-Light

By Thomas Cutler

Until now pick-to-light equipment has represented a significant fixed capital expense with little consideration for variable use, often driven by seasonality, warehouse/distribution variance, and project management flux.

From manufacturers to 3PL (third-party logistics) companies, these swings in low or high usage represented a level of waste as purchased lights went unused and wasted.

Pick-to-light is a fulfilment technology which uses alphanumeric displays and buttons at storage locations to guide the manual picking and recording of items for shipment.  Continue reading Next generation pick-to-light offers dynamic automation scalability

DHL and Wärtsilä complete tests of mobile robots from Fetch Robotics for warehouse operations

Industrial technology company Wärtsilä and the world’s largest logistics company, DHL, say they have been utilising mobile robots from Fetch Robotics to streamline warehouse operations. 

The companies say they have completed a “successful pilot”, where they tested autonomous vehicles from Fetch Robotics.

The pilot was carried out in Wärtsilä’s central distribution centre in Kampen, the Netherlands, where the entire logistics chain of Wärtsilä’s spare parts, from order intake to customer delivery, is managed.

As Wärtsilä’s partner, DHL runs the warehouse operations.  Continue reading DHL and Wärtsilä complete tests of mobile robots from Fetch Robotics for warehouse operations

Sita Lab launches mobile robotic kiosk for airports

Sita Lab, a provider of air travel technology, has launched Kate, a mobile robot which the company says is an intelligent check-in kiosk that will autonomously move to busy or congested areas in the airport as needed. 

Using various data sources – including flight and passenger flow information – Kate can identify where additional check-in kiosks are required to reduce passenger queue times at check-in.

Kate, which was developed in partnership with BlueBotics, uses existing Sita data systems such as Day of Operations Business Intelligence and FlightInfo API.  Continue reading Sita Lab launches mobile robotic kiosk for airports

Uber’s autonomous truck journey off to a bumpy start

uber otto autonomous truck
An autonomous trucking start-up Otto vehicle is shown during an announcing event in Concord, California, US on August 4, 2016. Reuters / Alexandria Sage

By Heather Somerville and Julia Love, Reuters

Uber Technologies’ drive to become a major player in the trucking business is off to a bumpy start, with analysts and industry executives questioning what exactly the company can bring to the sprawling $700-billion industry.

The San Francisco ride-services giant had planned to disrupt freight hauling by offering a complete package of trucking technology including self-driving trucks and smartphone-based logistics services.

But what has emerged so far, industry watchers say, is a modest effort to build a brokerage service connecting truckers looking for loads to shippers with cargo to haul.  Continue reading Uber’s autonomous truck journey off to a bumpy start

Interview: Big data suggests there’s a trade war looming

Port of Los Angeles, in the US
Port of Los Angeles, in the US

One of the wonders of the modern, computerised world is the emergence of data science. Data science is, arguably, at the heart of most successful businesses today, and its favourite food is big data. 

For Panjiva, data science and big data enables it to keep track of virtually all goods moving from one country to another, with a particular emphasis on the US market.

But while it might sound straightforward to some, the actual collation and preparation of the data, and then the presentation of it, is not a simple process.  Continue reading Interview: Big data suggests there’s a trade war looming

Chinese e-commerce giant starts delivering orders using robots

jd robot

One of China’s largest online shopping companies has started to deliver goods to its customers using robots, according to a report in QZ.com

The four-wheeled autonomous vehicle (pictured above) is about the size of a washing machine and was developed by Jingdong, or JD.com as it’s also known in China.

And although the robot was used for the first time earlier this week, JD’s chairman, Liu Qiangdong, says the company could completely roboticise its entire logistics process within a few years.

The company already uses small autonomous vehicles in its logistics warehouses to move goods around (pictured below).  Continue reading Chinese e-commerce giant starts delivering orders using robots

China says its Belt & Road initiative is a way out of the global economic slump

China is planning to create what looks like will be the largest, longest and most complex logistics network in history – at a cost to itself of almost $1 trillion. 

The so-called Belt & Road Initiative will virtually encircle China, most of Asia and much of Europe, and will mostly consist of interconnected roads, but will also include sea lanes and railways, and possibly some airways.

In total, it will connect approximately 60 countries, and cost anything between $4 trillion and $8 trillion. And the timescale is anyone’s guess.

The northern parts of the Belt & Road network will include the revival of the ancient Silk Road, which connected China to Persia and the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and India, Indonesia and Arabia via sea lanes to the south.  Continue reading China says its Belt & Road initiative is a way out of the global economic slump