AS Colour system Dematic materials handling racking

AS Colour NZ boosts DC capability

New Zealand-based apparel label AS Colour is to support the company’s significant business growth with an advanced materials handling installation in its new Auckland distribution centre.
Founded in 2005 in Auckland and operating in NZ, Australia and California, AS Colour produces apparel products for the wholesale and retail markets, with a number of retail outlets located in NZ and Australia.
“Following recent continued growth, AS Colour has outgrown its existing DC and made the decision to move to a new facility,” explained managing director and founder of AS Colour Lawrence Railton. “As part of our evolution into a new DC, AS Colour also wanted to optimise our warehouse operations by boosting productivity and efficiency when handling the high number of SKU we deal with.”
Working with Scott Kerr at Kerrect Logistics, AS Colour evaluated a range of automation options before choosing a tailored Dematic Multishuttle Goods-to-Person (GTP) System for its new DC, which provides high-density tote storage and high sequenced order picking productivity.
“AS Colour wanted to find a way to pick orders faster with minimal touches, in order to minimise product packaging and presentation challenges caused by handling the same product multiple times,” said business development manager at Dematic Seth van Dijk “The system we have tailored for AS Colour is based on the goods-to-person methodology, where the storage and delivery of products to fulfil orders is automated through the use of the Dematic Multishuttle high-rate storage and retrieval system.”

High-speed picking

Using the Dematic Multishuttle Goods-To-Person (GTP), AS Colour products are stored in totes in a secure high-density environment until they are retrieved and delivered in orderline sequence to operators at four ergonomic workstations. This significantly improves productivity by eliminating non-value-added time spent on tasks such as travel, and manually locating and retrieving stock.
Managed by Dematic iQ Warehouse Control System software, the installation features a two-aisle Dematic Multishuttle GTP system, with double-deep storage for 19,425 totes across 18 levels and 36 bays. It also features automated order tote delivery to 4 x 1:1 workstations as well as order tote take away to a dedicated conveyor sorter and packing area.
“In addition to the productivity, efficiency and high-density benefits the Dematic installation will bring to our new facility, we will also gain much more visibility into our warehouse operations,” added Mr Railton. “The new system will deliver real-time information, which places us in a better position to monitor and optimise our picking and replenishment productivity rates.”
The new AS Colour DC is due for completion in the first half of 2021.
 
 

Spotlight on Promat 2019 - from MHD magazine

Spotlight on Promat 2019 – from MHD magazine

In early April I had the opportunity to visit Promat 2019 in Chicago. Promat is North America’s largest materials handling equipment and systems exhibition, featuring over 950 exhibitors and 150 educational seminars. Read more

Dematic First wooden electric conveyor 1922.

Dematic celebrates 200th anniversary

Dematic’s first wooden electric conveyor in 1922.

Warehouse equipment and automation company Dematic is celebrating its 200th anniversary. The company’s origins date back to 1819 when Mechanische Werkstätten Harkort & Co was founded and produced the first steam-powered crane.
“Innovation is at the core of what we do,” said Hasan Dandashly, president and CEO, Dematic. “As our business grows in an increasingly digital world, we are focused on designing and implementing equipment combining the latest advancements in software, robotics and mechatronics to drive optimal performance. By focusing on the long-term needs of our customers, our innovative products have enabled us to be a market leader for not only decades, but centuries.”
Dematic’s recent past traces back to 1995 when Mannesmann Demag, the world’s first complete supplier of intralogistics was formed. Ten years later, Dematic GmbH & Co. KG was established as its own enterprise focusing on automated storage for small parts. From cranes to a global supplier of integrated automated technology, software and services, Dematic has always remained at the forefront of the industry by focusing on the future.

Dematic Truck Loader 1960
Dematic’s truck Loader from 1960.

Dematic’s history in Australia and New Zealand began in 1966 when Colby Engineering was first set up, providing adjustable pallet racking. The company has continued to grow and evolve through various business transitions: from Colby to Mannesmann to Siemens to Dematic. Out of respect for its long heritage as an Australian manufacturer, and strong recognition in the market, the Colby name continues today as Dematic’s storage equipment brand.
Some of Dematic’s greatest innovations include the world’s first hanging conveyor (1930s), its storage and retrieval machines (1950s), the world’s first fully automated warehouse (1962), Dematic Multishuttle, the company’s ground-breaking mini-load handling system (2006), and the integrated software platform the Dematic iQ Software Portfolio (2018).
“Although our products provide great value, it’s really the people of Dematic that make the difference,” said Mr Dandashly. “Each employee plays a crucial role in Dematic’s history and we continue to be guided by our values of courage, collaboration, integrity and excellence. I look forward to more success in the next 200 years.”
Dematic's grocery conveyor from the 1950s.
Dematic’s grocery conveyor from the 1950s.

The distribution centre of the future: scale, flexibility and the need for automation

Own the future – from MHD magazine

The distribution centre of the future will need scale, flexibility and automation. As technology advances and society changes, consumers are demanding services faster and more readily available. Current warehousing and distribution practices won’t be sufficient to keep up with market expectations, so forward-thinking businesses are investing in flexible, scalable and automated solutions to future-proof their operations. Read more

Schneider Electric has successfully completed the digital transformation of its Pacific SMART distribution centre (DC) in Ingleburn.

The SMART Distribution Centre opens

Schneider Electric has successfully completed the digital transformation of its Pacific SMART distribution centre (DC) in Ingleburn. The SMART DC is layered with Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure technology, which drives end-to-end efficiency for the industrial environment, and also houses a control tower that is an innovative advance for supply chain management.
The SMART Ingleburn DC, is the largest in the Pacific and spread over 17,500m2, operating 24 hours a day, 5 days a week. It dispatches 5,000 lines over 70 routes (air and road) daily, servicing a total of 3,500 customers in Australia and New Zealand. The Digitisation of the SMART DC allows Schneider Electric to drive end-to-end efficiencies, bringing with it:

  • Agile management & Process Efficiency: Driving faster and better decisions from the teams to improve customer satisfaction and faster service
  • Asset Performance Management: Predictive analytics for reduced downtime and longer efficient operations
  • Empowered Operators: Access to real-time assets, data and innovative technology such as EcoStruxure Augmented Operator Advisor that allows increased efficiency in maintenance and processes and significant safety improvements
  • Energy Efficiency & Reliability: Reduced energy consumption through real-time insights delivered by EcoStruxure Resource Advisor and Facility Expert. This approach has shown potential savings of up to 30% energy savings.

The Ingleburn SMART DC hosts Schneider Electric’s Pacific Control Tower, a hub that improves supply chain visibility to detect and mitigate Supply Chain issues and interruptions to significantly improve predictability and reliability for customers.
“The innovative approach brings together in a single site logistics, customer care and personnel representing all our international and domestic transport carriers. This way information from global tracking dashboards can be openly and easily shared and discussed to quickly resolve queries and issues,” said zone president at Schneider Electric Gareth O’Reilly.
“The Control Tower approach has demonstrated a strong return on investment with a 65 percent reduction in time taken to resolve complaints.”
Smart DC and End to End Control Towers are central to Schneider Electric’s tailored, sustainable and connected (TSC) 4.0 strategy which aims to empower our teams, improve customer experience and end to end operational efficiencies.
Mr O’Reilly said: “We support our clients through the digitisation journey with our EcoStruxure IoT-enabled system architecture and platform. The Ingleburn Distribution Centre is an important player in our global network of Smart sites that showcases the EcoStruxure offerings to customers.”
The SMART DC uses EcoStruxure Power in order to better understand and reduce energy usage and EcoStruxure Machine and EcoStruxure Plant to help optimise assets and operational performance.

Specific products included:

  • PowerTags – wireless energy sensors that attach to circuit breakers and provide real-time electrical load data and e-mail alerts in the event of potential issues.
  • Easergy sensors – temperature and humidity sensors that automatically measure, monitor and control energy consumption and demand.
  • Facility Expert – cloud-based software and access to real-time performance data to optimise your facility operations, maintenance and energy management.
  • Resource Advisor – to aggregate all cross-enterprise, energy and sustainability information in a single, cloud-based platform and transform data into actionable insights to improve business operations.
  • Machine Advisor – a cloud-based services platform used to track machines in operation, monitor performance data and fix exceptional events.
  • Augmented Operator Advisor – a custom application that leverages augmented reality for instant diagnosis and contactless maintenance. This has the ability to potentially reduce maintenance and support costs by up to 50%.

The announcement of the SMART distribution centre (DC) comes in a week that Schneider also received a Gartner 2019 Industrial Manufacturing Supply Chainnovator award, ranked 11th in The Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 for 2019.
 

Toyota automation forklift materials handling

Toyota's warehouse to go on autopilot in 2020

Toyota Australia, together with Toyota Material Handling Australia and Toyota Fleet Management, will be introducing a fleet of autonomous autopilot vehicles into its Altona warehouse from its operation start in 2020.
Manufactured in Sweden by Toyota Material Handling Europe, the fleet itself will consist of six Autopilot Tow Trucks (TAE500) and one Autopilot Reach Truck (RAE160), the flagship model when it comes to warehouse automation.
They will apply autopilot driverless technology to achieve mobility in conveyance, towing, lifting, and be able to autonomously place product throughout the warehouse and pick orders for customers.
All models in the range will also have the ability to be used in manual mode as conventional warehouse vehicles allowing complete flexibility in operations.
Built with the reliability and serviceability of their manual predecessors, the new hybrids will also include integrated navigation and leading safety systems.
The safety systems include scanners and obstacle detection devices which are designed to stop the vehicle and minimise the risk of a collision, ensuring protection for people, equipment, and infrastructure.
Fleet management, emergency-stop buttons, warning sounds, and lights will be standard across the range together with a blue LED warning light projected in front of the vehicle, to assist in noisy environments or when autopilot is approaching around a corner.
In addition to enhanced safety, Autopilot will also deliver energy efficiencies via Lithium-Ion battery technology, automatic charging, high vehicle utilisation, and low maintenance costs.
Toyota Australia vice president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley said the mobility company has a thorough understanding and appreciation of the importance of automation technology.
“Toyota Australia will continue to develop, progress, and employ these new ways of thinking whenever possible,” Mr Hanley said.
“We are extremely committed to delivering the highest level of reliability, performance, and productivity, and Autopilot ticks every one of these boxes,” he added.

MHD-robots-in-the-warehouse-DC-automation

Robots in distribution centres – from MHD magazine

Mal Walker

Don’t worry, contrary to the terrifying Daleks portrayed in the long-running Dr Who series, robots are not taking over the world or the universe! In reality, they are more analogous to the friendly droids of Star Wars’ 3-CPO R2-D2 and BB8. They are loyal and faithful servants to their human and non-human masters.
This is good news for distribution centre operators, because the Star Wars ‘droids’ have morphed into a new generation of reliable DC robots that are revolutionising the logistics world!
Research from market intelligence firm Tractica reports that the worldwide sales of warehousing and logistics robots reached USD1.9 billion in 2016, with growth in coming years its projected to reach USD22.4 billion by the end of 2021. Manufacturers of robots can therefore expect unit shipments to increase from 40,000 in 2016, to 620,000 units annually by 2021 (reference: www.tractica.com).
But who is buying robots? Traditionally, it was manufacturers with repetitive production processes, but the robotic landscape has broadened to include distribution centres, mines, hospitals, hotels, casinos, offices, mines and others. In fact, any application where a process can be automated.

Should you use them in your DC?

In this article, I will briefly touch on the 13 most common types of robots that are being used in distribution centres, along with their characteristics and uses. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it may help in working out what robots could be beneficial in your situation.
Firstly, how do you classify robots? Particularly as there are so many variants. The Tractica report lists the following four in the context of distribution centres.

  • Mobile robot platforms: automated guided vehicles (AGV) and autonomous vehicles.
  • Shuttle automated storage and retrieval systems: ASRS, featuring in-rack robots.
  • Industrial robotic manipulators: typical robotic arms that can be applied to countless applications.
  • Gantry robots: robots that run on overhead structures.

“If you are looking at robots as a solution, be sure to do your homework in terms of analysis, application and return.”

But what do they do, and how do you know if you would benefit from one, or more? To assist, I’ve developed a table that lists the types of robots and applications in warehousing facilities. Bur first here are some definitions that may be helpful.

  1. AGV

Generally used for transport of goods within a set path or circuit. May be guided by rails, lasers and sensors. These have been around for many years, but AGV technology has advanced and is far more affordable, reliable and applicable to many types of mobile equipment.

  1. Shuttle systems

Used within racking systems to place and retrieve stock. The racking maybe serviced by automatic conveyors or AGV, or manually by an operator.

  1. Autonomous mobile robots

These are free-path robots controlled to operate on the best put-away or picking path. Using sensors and cameras, they can navigate around a DC where people are working. They are ideal for goods-to-person and task-to-person applications.

  1. Stacker cranes

These are used in automated storage and retrieval systems for pallet handling. Yes, they have been around for many years, but they are a robot, nonetheless. They typically run on fixed-path rails systems.

  1. Mini-load stacker cranes

Related to the larger stacker cranes, mini-load cranes run on fixed rails installed within racking. They can achieve high rates of replenishment and picking and are now able to pick cartons, object and eaches to totes or conveyor belts.

  1. Industrial robotic order picker

Using conventional robots with articulated arms for picking and palletising/ depalletizing etc. has become common place. In recent years, visualisation technology has enabled robots to see and pick stock in units. If the robot does not have the right gripping device to pick items up, it merely changes to the right one, and continues picking.
And now some common operating modes:

  1. Goods-to-person

Where automation or a robot brings goods to a human for order picking purposes.

  1. Task-to-person

Where a robot brings a receptacle and picking intelligence/information to a picker, so that the picker can pick the required goods to specific order bins on the receptacle. (Amazon makes use of task-to-person robots in some locations.)

  1. Goods-to-robot

Automation or robots bring goods to a robot for order picking purposes

  1. Person to robot

A person brings goods to a robot for specific orders or sortation and delivery by the robot to a consolidation or packing zone. These robots can typically include tilt-tray devices for feeding goods into staging bays or directly to cartons.
MHD-robot-in-the-warehouse-DC-automation-table
Now that you know the common types of robots and operating modes, the charts should make some sense in terms of application. What is hard to define is the cost for automation and robotics. This is complex and depends on many factors too numerous to cover here. However, the evidence suggests that robots are becoming cheaper, reliable and easier to justify than ever before.
If you are looking at robots as a solution, be sure to do your homework in terms of analysis, application and return. If you do, you may be relieved that Dalek’s will not conquer your operation. Instead, be pleasantly surprised that robots may be more economical than you realise.
Mal is manager, consulting with the Logistics Bureau, where he works with local and international organisations to guide them in specification preparation, establishment and review of outsourcing contracts. He holds qualifications in engineering, business operations and logistics. For more information contact Mal on 0412 271 503 or email mwalker@logisticsbureau.com.
You can read the rest of MHD magazine March-April issue here: 
https://issuu.com/theintermediagroup/docs/mhd_march-april_2019
 

Augmented-reality-in-a-warehouse

The warehouse of the future is getting closer

Warehousing pressures are driving substantial investment in augmented reality, voice technology, and people tracking. Spending on AR in warehousing alone will reach over US$23 billion by 2025.
Demand for warehousing facilities has been steadily increasing thanks to the strength of international trade and the continual growth of e-commerce. With customer expectations for rapid delivery rising, warehouses are struggling to process the increased volumes of goods passing through facilities in time. The problem is compounded by labour shortages and staffing challenges. The need to adopt technology to alleviate these issues is driving significant investment in augmented reality (AR), voice-directed picking, and real-time location systems (RTLS) for workforce analytics.
By 2025, global spending on AR in warehousing will reach over US$23 billion, US$3.3 billion will be spent on voice solutions, and RTLS will grow to 500,000 implementations for people-tracking across all verticals, according to ABI Research, a market-foresight advisory firm providing strategic guidance on the most compelling transformative technologies.
“Fulfilling higher order volumes is difficult when warehouses are struggling to hire and maintain staff, and automation is cost-prohibitive for many distributors,” said senior analyst at ABI Research Nick Finill. “Warehouses are therefore increasingly using digital tools that can empower the human worker, deliver efficiency gains, and also reduce the time it takes to induct new or temporary staff.”
Augmented reality is finally starting to gain mass appeal in industrial sectors, thanks to maturing technologies and demonstrable ROI from early adopters. Voice-directed technology represents a considerably older technology but is also undergoing a technological revolution thanks to deep learning-based voice recognition that vastly improves ease-of-use and reliability. Voice is being leveraged to assist the warehouse workforce by providing operational instructions in a clear and hands-free way.
The drive for digitally-enabled workforce productivity in the warehouse is incorporating the human worker into the Internet of Things at a rapid pace. The increased use of RTLS technologies, such as Bluetooth Low Energy, Wi-Fi tracking and RFID, are allowing warehouse operators to analyse productivity of the workforce as well as the movement of physical assets. Workers can be monitored in a way that respects privacy while generating valuable operational data that can drive workforce efficiency over time.
Companies such as RealWare, Kontakt.io, Panasonic, Lucas Systems and TopSystem are providing warehouses with a wide range of technology products that can provide incremental advantages. Driving productivity in this way can be an attractive alternative to more expensive automation projects, which is a concurrent trend in warehousing with the potential to transform operations in the longer term.
“The combination of multiple devices and technology can have a positive compound effect on workforce productivity,” concluded Mr Finill. “However, companies must be smart about how they integrate multiple technologies within the same stack to ensure they remain complementary and ROI is maximised.”
These findings are from ABI Research’s ‘Devices and Solutions for Workforce Productivity in Warehouse Logistics’ technology analysis report. This report is part of the company’s Intelligent Supply Chain service, which includes research, data, and analyst insights. Based on extensive primary interviews, Technology Analysis reports present in-depth analysis on key market trends and factors for a specific technology.

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