‘Humid’ system for crustacean transport launched

Australian firm FloatPac has unveiled an innovative new FishPac air freight system for molluscs and crustaceans, designed to overcome mortality, quality and long-distance travel issues associated with polystyrene boxes.
With very low mortality and exceptional product health of the transported species over longer travel times, the firm’s ‘humid’ system builds on the successes of its FishPac bins, with the addition of a humid, oxygen rich atmosphere.
FloatPac Marine biologist Peter Rankin said the design has exceeded even FishPac’s expectations.
“We began with a plan to deliver crustaceans and molluscs in better quality and with lower mortality than any of the options currently in the market. We had a phenomenal starting point, thanks to our existing FishPac system, but discovered that we could improve even further on labour and freight costs by minimising the volume of water but retaining its atmospheric benefits. And so the ‘humid’ system was developed.
“A continuous supply of oxygen is diffused through a shallow pool of water in the base of the FishPac bin, generating a humid, oxygen rich atmosphere. Animals can be packed in baskets or on shelving above the water, and the positive pressure gradient passes the humid oxygen rich atmosphere upwards through the animals and continuously expels the waste gases from the bin through the lid vents.
“All trials so far indicate optimal survival and species health, while the stackable nature of the bin has huge benefits for freight. The next stage for us is to make the whole system fully recyclable, which will reduce the equipment that needs to be returned at the end of each shipment. Then we really will have the complete solution.”
FloatPac has completed successful trials with Southern rock lobster, Tropical lobster and Blacklip abalone over a 48-hour period with zero mortality. In each case, live seafood shippers contributing to the trials have commented on the excellent quality of the animals at their arrival.
 

Manufacturing, transport are major challenges to be studied

UNSW Sydney has announced new institutes to address humanity’s most pressing challenges, in which the university will invest up to $200m in new and emerging areas.
UNSW Sydney has established four new institutes focused on finding solutions to major scientific and social challenges confronting society through cross-disciplinary research.
The UNSW Futures Institutes are part of the UNSW Futures initiative, a major component of the university’s 2025 Strategy. UNSW Futures provides a framework for facilitating cross-faculty and interdisciplinary work, driving innovative approaches to research, and addressing scientific and social challenges.
As part of the initiative, UNSW will invest up to $200m in new and emerging areas from across faculties. These virtual institutes will receive core funding to support operations, seed-funding for new research projects, and a commitment of funding for Strategic Hires and Retention Program (SHARP) employees.
UNSW President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Nicholas Fisk announced the first four futures institutes last week. The first futures institutes are:

  • UNSW Ageing Futures Institute: enabling optimal ageing for individuals and society – led by Professor Kaarin Anstey.
  • UNSW Cellular Genomics Futures Institute: inventing technologies to decode individual cell DNA, chromatin, RNA, and protein outputs that will be used for precise diagnosis and precision treatment of human disease – led by Professor Chris Goodnow.
  • UNSW Digital Grid Futures Institute: future-proofing global energy systems to ensure reliable, secure, affordable, sustainable energy supply – led by Professor Joe Dong.
  • UNSW Materials & Manufacturing Futures Institute: transforming the future of materials and manufacturing research in energy, transport, information technology, and healthcare – initially led by Professor Sean Li pending a definitive appointment.

The university will formally launch the institutes at an event on Wednesday 24 October from 4 – 6pm in John Niland Scientia Building, Leighton Hall. The event will include a brief presentation and panel discussion, followed by an opportunity for networking with futures institute directors and lead investigators.
Professor Fisk said these institutes position UNSW as a big picture visionary university of the future.
“The institutes will enhance UNSW’s focus on innovative interdisciplinary and cross-faculty research that impacts society and policy,” said Professor Fisk. “The institutes build on our existing strengths and will act as a drawcard for international recruitment, government and industry links, while harnessing academic excellence to address humanity’s major challenges.”
A second round of UNSW Futures Institutes applications will open in late 2019.
 

Toll opens automated DC

The Toll Group has opened a new distribution centre (DC). The highly automated DC has been established to meet increasing demands for efficient e-commerce and omnichannel order fulfillment, and was fitted out by Dematic.
The DC features several Dematic systems integrated with new technologies. Dematic Multishuttles store, buffer and sequence 80,000 SKU. Workers pick orders at 24 ergonomic goods-to-person workstations. Ten AGV handle repetitive transportation tasks safely and automatically. In addition, the Toll Group worked closely with Dematic to define and implement support systems from other vendors to ensure complete integration.
As a 3PL, the Toll Group had some stringent requirements for automation. General manager of speciality retail at the Toll Group Robert Charles said: “We look at the occupation, health and safety requirements. We look at order accuracy to prevent returns coming back to the facility.
“We also look at customer service to make sure customers get their product in an efficient manner. Because it’s all about the speed to market today.”
 
 
 

The next Airbus may be made of woven spider silk

A company claiming to be the world’s first industrial supplier of synthetic silk biopolymers, AMSilk, has formed a partnership with Airbus. The two companies have entered into a joint cooperation agreement “to develop the new era of composites for use in the aerospace industry”.
In recent years, the aerospace industry has shifted from metal and steel fuselage and wings to carbon fibre composite materials, primarily in an effort to decrease the plane’s weight and save fuel over time. Airbus claims it is the first in the industry to experiment with this new material. It intends to explore how AMSilk’s Biosteel fibre can allow them to approach the design and construction of its planes in an entirely new way.
The new composite material will be built using AMSilk’s Biosteel fibre technology, which enables lightweight construction with multiple shock resistance and flexibility. As demand for air travel continues to increase, the need for larger, more flexible planes that spend less time in the workshop and more time in the sky will continue to grow.
Biosteel fibre is made from a biopolymer based on natural spider silk, a material known for its strength, flexibility and toughness. AMSilk produces Biosteel fibre through a closed-loop biotechnological process that renders the product highly sustainable, with no petroleum inputs.
AMSilk and Airbus are aiming to launch a prototype composite material in 2019.
 

Where automation is the star – from MHD magazine

Swisslog is introducing to Australasia its new CarryStar fully automated order fulfilment system, which combines automatic guided vehicles (AGV), KUKA Star Robots and the latest Swisslog SynQ software for optimum efficiency, flexibility, reliability and sustainability.
The CarryStar will be displayed for the first time at CeMAT 2018 at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre from July 24-26 (Stand F12), along with live demonstrations of Swisslog’s new KMP600 AGV, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies, and the latest collaborative robots from its parent company, KUKA.
Swisslog and KUKA’s highly advanced technologies and automation are designed to improve efficiency and return on investment for industries such as e-commerce, retail, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, logistics, and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).
The scalable and modular, fully-automated CarryStar is suitable for small, mid-size and large layer and stack picking operations. With minimal fixed infrastructure required and the ability to grow as a business expands its operations, CarryStar is ideally suited to retail, FMCG and pharmaceutical companies looking for hygienic and efficient warehouse automation.
The fully automated process starts with a pallet infeed station, where KMP600 or KMP1200 mobile platforms (carry bots) receive the pallets and transport them to buffer positions or the picking area around a Star Robot.

“The highly customisable nature of the machine makes it suited to dynamic businesses, where order fulfilment needs may be constantly changing.”

These KUKA high-performance Star Robots are the workhorses of the CarryStar system, and can pick approximately 200-300 layers or stacks per hour to form mixed or rainbow pallets, depending on the requirements to fulfil the order. Once complete, Swisslog’s Carry AGV then transport pallets to the pallet wrapper where it also will be labelled, and finally to the dispatching area to be sent to the required destinations.
Productivity and sustainability can be enhanced by negative picking, which allows for the conversion of source pallets into order pallets to minimise wastage. The entire system is driven the intelligent SynQ software, which not only manages the system, but collects valuable data and uses this to recommend further efficiencies.
“The CarryStar provides an insight into the factories of the future. It’s an automated pallet-to-pallet transfer of goods system that needs minimal fixed infrastructure to operate, making it suited to companies looking for hygienic and efficient warehouse automation,” said Swisslog Australia senior consultant Paul Stringleman.
“The highly customisable nature of the machine makes it suited to dynamic businesses, where order fulfilment needs may be constantly changing. It also helps growing businesses, because modular units can be added on as the business expands,” Mr Stringleman said.
Benefits
Scalable: The modular and scalable design allows for growth in line with business growth. In addition to needing only minimal fixed infrastructure, it does not require any conveyors, which adds flexibility when updating or expanding operations. CarryStar is well-suited to small, mid-size and large layer and stack picking operations.
Flexible and sustainable: CarryStar’s safe and energy-efficient design provides excellent traceability of expiry dates and batches, as pallets are scanned when they enter and leave the system. Source pallets are converted into order pallets to enhance productivity and minimise wastage.  With minimal fixed infrastructure required (i.e. it does not use conveyors), CarryStar is flexible, hygienic and cost-efficient warehouse automation.
Efficiency: Both quality and quantity are increased with the CarryStar, as one robot can palletise approximately 200-300 layers or stacks every hour, with error-free operation.
Reliability: Fully controlled by SynQ software, CarryStar reduces picking errors. The high redundancy of the Carry AGVs’ performance allows the process to be managed effectively at any time.

“SynQ manages CarryStar to create an intuitive, efficient, data-driven and error-free operation.”

Components
Carry AGV: An innovative and automated picking system designed to efficiently move the pallets around the CarryStar. These mobile vehicles combine Swisslog and KUKA’s extensive experience (KMP600 and KMP1200) in automation systems, hardware and software intelligence. The vehicles navigate using a grid of QR codes to deliver stacks to the Star Robots through the infeed, move the pallets around the robots, and to buffer positions, and subsequently deliver the racks to the outfeed for shipment. These AGVs are intuitive and safe, simultaneously reduce picking error rates and maintaining efficiency.
Star Robot: These are chosen based on SKU, volume and the type of picking that will be completed (crate stack, carton and tray layer or mixed SKU stack picking). These six-axis robots are available in different payload capacities to suit different warehouses and stock picking needs.

SynQ software: The machines are managed by Swisslog’s intelligent management software, SynQ. In addition to the core processes that are used to manage the AGV, SynQ also provides access to analytical tools. These tools evaluate and make smart decisions in a warehouse, based on gathered data. SynQ manages CarryStar to create an intuitive, efficient, data-driven and error-free operation. SynQ also manages energy-efficiency levels by using un-sequenced order data by SKU and pallet, manually re-sequencing this data for CarryStar by SKU and order pallet to result in minimal product pallet movements that are communicated to the Star Robots.
The CarryStar process

  1. Goods arrive in homogenous pallets.
  2. Pallets are automatically stored in the pallet storage area.
  3. The pallets move through an infeed into the CarryStar solution area.
  4. Once inside, the Carry AGVs move the pallets around the robots and/or to buffer positions depending on where they are required to be positioned.
  5. If in the buffer position they remain there until required and if so the Carry AGVs move the pallets to the correct position.
  6. Alternatively, the pallet is positioned around the Star Robot, where pallets are picked (crate stack, carton and/or tray layer).
  7. The Star Robot layer or stack picks the pallets depending on whether a single SKU, mixed or rainbow pallet is required.
  8. Once pallets are complete, the Carry AGV’s move the pallets to the pallet wrapper, whereby the order pallets are labelled before they leave the CarryStar area via the outfeed station to the dispatch/shipping area, then loaded securely on a wrapping machine and wrapped efficiently. Carry AGVs then move the secured pallets to the pallet labeller where they are labelled using SynQ’s intelligent software.
  9. Once complete, the Carry AGVs move the pallets to the outfeed where they are ready for dispatch.

For more information call +61 416 865 553, email ruby.wannous@swisslog.com or visit www.swisslog.com.
 

Auckland Racking joins the Schaefer stable

Schaefer Systems Australia and Auckland Racking & Shelving Solutions have signed a distributor agreement, giving Auckland Racking the rights to distribute and install SSI SCHAEFER’S range of products in New Zealand.
Auckland Racking has been a leading designer and installer of warehouse shelving and racking systems in the New Zealand market for over 35 years. The founding partners have both had significant experience within the industrial storage industry, so it was a natural fit for them to work together to develop Auckland Racking & Shelving Solutions.
Specialising in the used pallet racking market initially, Auckland Racking has developed a reputation for providing quality total-solution projects from conceptual drawings, design, supply and ultimately safe and efficient installation or relocation. Since its foundation in 2004, Auckland Racking has become the go-to partner for project management and installation of storage equipment for many iconic brands located in New Zealand.
With over 25 staff and 5 teams of full-time installers who are supported by locally-based SSI-certified designers, Auckland Racking is well placed to cover the whole of New Zealand.
General manager of Schaefer Systems International Pty Ltd Brett Thirup said: “This partnership with Matt Cowan and the Auckland Racking team will greatly supplement the service levels and products available to New Zealand through Auckland Racking. We are excited for the prospects”.
General manager of Auckland Racking and Shelving Solutions Matt Cowan said: “This agreement gives Auckland Racking a unique opportunity to provide total end-to-end service to the marketplace. We can now manage new racking projects from design through to final compliance and sign-off. Partnering with SSI SCHAEFER is a natural fit with our existing business model and we are excited by the opportunity to work with a brand that is at the top of its class for quality, engineering and innovation. We look forward to a long and prosperous partnership with SSI SCHAEFER in Australia.”
 

Gen Z wants perfect CX and wants it now

Online shipping technology company Neopost Shipping has published a survey report that highlights the need for shipping to contribute to ‘customer experience’ (CX), with 98% of young consumers abandoning their carts online due to shipping-related friction.
The report Great Expectations: Shipping, CX & Gen Z underlines the influence that shipping has on e-commerce conversion and retention. It features survey data from retailers and online consumers in four countries: United States, United Kingdom, France and Australia.
“Gen Z is changing the e-commerce playbook by challenging retailers to elevate the customer experience. Shipping is a key element of online shopping, so retailers who are adept at working through its complexity to leverage it as a revenue-driving CX tool will reap great returns,” said senior vice president Americas at Neopost Shipping Matthew Mullen.
Key findings of the report include:

  • Cart abandonment strongly influenced by the lack of shipping options: 98% of Gen Z consumers have stated that they will abandon cart if a preferred shipping option is unavailable to them at checkout, with 44% opting to then buy from a competing online brand, 33% attempting to visit the brick and mortar store of the same brand, and 21% planning to visit a mall to buy the items.
  • Retailers are not keeping up with Gen Z shipping demands: Compared to the previous year, Gen Z’s willingness to pay for new types of shipping services such as hyperlocal (1-3 hours), same-day and weekend or after-hours delivery has increased. Additionally, Gen Z’s demand for these consumer-centric shipping services is significantly higher compared to the average consumer, yet only up to a fifth of retailers offer them.
  • Strong appetite by Gen Z for speed-based delivery services: Gen Z is more committed compared to the average consumer to shop online if retailers can have their orders shipped faster. 71% of Gen Z versus 56% of average consumers will increase their basket size to meet the spend threshold for free hyperlocal delivery (1-3 hours), while 44% of Gen Z versus 25% of average consumers will shop more online if next-day delivery was available.

“Gen Z is instant gratification personified,” said Mr Mullen, “In a market where the likes of Amazon are pushing the boundaries on what a great shipping experience looks like, retailers rarely get a second chance with young and savvy consumers who won’t think twice about abandoning brands that cannot provide the shipping choice and convenience they desire.
“It’s a known fact that shipping and fulfillment can be operationally challenging for many retailers. Instead of taking on the burden of building everything from the ground up, (retailers should) leverage the supply chain innovations that are in the market – such as updating your technology stack with a shipping software platform, trialling smart parcel lockers, and accelerating the process of getting online orders out the door with automated packing machines,” Mullen said.
The Great Expectations report includes new insights on how shipping can motivate or detract Gen Z from online shopping, why shipping can drive Gen Z to abandon cart and buy from a competing retailer, what retailers can do to convert and retain Gen Z through shipping, and how marketplaces like Amazon are winning Gen Z over with their approach to shipping.

We could learn from NZ Quarantine

Peter McRae

Australia faces a biosecurity risk due to an inadequate risk assessment of wood materials found in packaging materials. Our neighbours across the Tasman have a risk assessment process from which Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) could learn and which, I would argue, would be a huge improvement to our current process.
In a nutshell, Australia doesn’t check containers, meaning wooden packaging that has not been fumigated is slipping across our borders undeclared and unchecked.
I refer in particular to the processing of Less Than Container Load (LCL) shipments.
In the Australian context, LCL require a one-page packing declaration that identifies and ‘risk-assesses’ any wood used as packaging and further whether any wood has been treated to Australian biosecurity standards. If wood is contained and has not been treated, it needs to be inspected, treated or disposed. There are a few issues with this process:

  1. The person filling out the packing declaration is either the supplier or the packer; both commercially connected to the importer and therefore with a potential conflict of interest.
  2. DAWR doesn’t physically check LCL cargo to ensure that forms have been accurately completed.
  3. The template is only supplied in English regardless of the language of the person completing the document, usually an international supplier. I have often wondered how many of the people filling out the form even understand the language on the form.
  4. The form has been changed three times in the past two years.

There is no surprise then, to learn that the forms are frequently incorrect and as a customs broker, I commonly need to ask the supplier to prepare another declaration to bring it to the new standard, or to ask if the answers are accurate. But not all LCL shipments are assessed by a customs broker, self-assessed clearances under the tax-free threshold can be completed by anyone.
If Australia is to keep its borders safe from biosecurity risks, it needs to be sure that the risks are not slipping under its nose, and for that we can look to New Zealand’s process.
New Zealand, generally regarded to be more responsible for its pristine environment, doesn’t require packaging declarations for LCL cargo. Instead, all LCL cargo is inspected at the unpacking depot before the cargo is released. A system of thorough checks like this is positive because, from the get-go, suppliers and importers know that cargo will be checked, which means that they will self-regulate to meet quarantine requirements in order to avoid storage and or further fees. The process is effective.
In the past 12 months, DAWR has changed its one-page packing declaration three times in order to improve its accuracy. But it is still only in English. It is still only filled out by the importer’s people and it is still not checked against the cargo.
I would argue, therefore, that it still holds little value. Changing the document doesn’t solve the problem, physically checking the containers would.
Peter McRae is the principal of Platinum Freight Management.

Giving way to the wealthy – and will freight fit in?

Autonomous vehicles could see privileged road access for those prepared to pay a premium, said Monash University ethicists Professor Robert Sparrow and Dr Mark Howard.
Online auctions could determine who gets through an intersection first and faster routes reserved for higher-paying customers, Professor Sparrow said.
Autonomous vehicles offer an opportunity to apply free market principles and create a ‘market in mobility’ by pricing road access for more efficient use of an increasingly scarce resource.
But increased efficiency could come at significant social, ethical and political cost, he warned.
An equal place where all users have the same rights and subject to the same laws – no matter what type of car they drive –  could become a place where the wealthy can buy their right of way.
“The logic of the free market, when unleashed on urban transport, points firmly to pricing journey times — and therefore access to space on the roads — in accordance with the ability to pay,” Prof Sparrow said.
“The cars of those who paid lower prices could be made to slow down and move aside in order to allow the cars of those who had paid higher prices to pass them, making the mobility privileges purchased by the wealthy all-too-obvious to the poor.”
In feudal times ‘commoners’ were often expected, or forced by law, to make way for the nobility on roads.
In the future, algorithms will replace expectations of ‘giving way to the wealthy’ with technology determining traffic flows that provide a daily reminder of someone’s place in society.
The prospect of a ‘market in mobility’ would also lead to roads being private, rather than public space, effectively controlled by a small number of companies operating fleets of vehicles.
“It would also result in private corporations controlling access to a good — mobility — that is itself essential to social and political participation, entrenching the divide between rich and poor.
“It’s something governments and policymakers need to carefully consider in their quest for more efficient road networks.”
 

Online returns piling up in a warehouse.

That’s a lot of parcels: Australians sent 841 million

The Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index reports Australia’s annual parcel shipping volume grew by 63 million in 2017, and is expected to surpass one billion parcels in 2020.
The index reports that parcel shipping generated $9.2 billion in revenue last year, an increase of 6.2 per cent over 2016. Parcel volume in Australia grew eight per cent last year to 841 million parcels, up from 778 million in 2016.
The annual report, which measures both volume and spending for business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-business and consumer-consigned shipments, shows Australians receive an average of 34 parcels each year, driven by fast growth in e-commerce sales this past year.
The e-commerce revolution in Australia has contributed significantly to the strength of the parcel shipping market. The seamless service provided by many online marketplaces has driven consumers’ expectations for convenience, price and availability of products from around the world, made possible through global e-commerce.
The omnipresence of e-commerce has spurred a global boom industry, with parcel shipping generating $279 billion in global revenue last year, increasing 11 per cent from 2016. In the 13 markets reviewed, the Shipping Index expects global shipping volume to surpass 100 billion parcels by the year 2020.
Pitney Bowes ANZ country manager and director Stephen Darracott said: “The parcel shipping market remains strong, with growth across all regions. Global e-commerce giants continue to raise the bar, resetting customer expectations when it comes to shipping. As retailers and marketplaces look to cross-border commerce to drive growth, carriers must create efficient, seamless routes to market. They’re doing this by turning to technology, investing in commerce platforms, logistics hubs and distribution centres. Over the next year, we expect businesses will be undergoing a digital transformation in their mailing and shipping workflow, improving their efficiency and inbound and outbound tracking capabilities.”
Australia’s parcel market is expected to grow to more than 1 billion parcels a year by 2021. The parcel delivery market is seeing an exponential growth backed by ease of shipping, delivery and tracking parcels domestic and internationally.
“The Australian and New Zealand market is gearing for an exponential growth as we’re also seeing more and more e-commerce companies looking to the shipping industry with a value proposition. Pitney Bowes accelerated its entry into the shipping market by introducing SendPro to Australian SMB retailers. As the competition heats up, simplified and reliable service, accelerated delivery times, and transparent and accurate tracking will be the key to success,” Mr Darracott continued.
Topline trends Across the globe

  • China’s Parcel Volume Triples United States’: China (40.1 billion), the United States (11.9 billion), and Japan (9.6 billion) represented the top three countries for parcel shipping volume in 2017. China’s parcel shipments represent 53 per cent of the total shipments in the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index.
  • United States Tops Shipping Revenue: The United States ranks highest in parcel shipping revenue at $107 billion, generating 38 per cent of the total revenue of the 13 countries. China ($73 billion) and Japan ($25 billion) follow. The average shipping price of a parcel is $8.95 in the US, compared to $1.83 in China and $2.64 in Japan.
  • China’s Parcel Growth Continued to Soar: Despite slower parcel volume growth from the previous four years, China represents the largest market in parcel volume growth at 28 per cent YOY. India (11 per cent) and Sweden (9 per cent) followed.
  • Japanese Residents Receive the Most Packages: Japan tops per capita shipping with 76 parcels shipped per person in 2017. The UK follows at 48 parcels shipped per person, and then Germany at 41 parcels.

Methodology
The Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index measures parcel volume and spending for business-to-business, business-to-consumer, consumer-to-business and consumer-consigned shipments with weight up to 31.5kg (70 pounds) across Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. Population data points were sourced from the International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database published in October 2017. The Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index spans 13 countries and represents the parcel shipping activity of 3.7 billion people.
 
 

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