The biannual Forklift Survey is now live and seeking respondents who have the chance to win a major prize valued at $799 just for conducting the short online questionnaire.
Location technology specialist TomTom has released the results of a report detailing traffic congestion from 57 countries around the world.
Coles has signed a strategic partnership with Microsoft to use cloud-based technology to transform shopping for customers, make life easier for workers and improve productivity across the business.
This is the latest in a series of global partnerships and developments through which Coles is building its technology and digital capability.
The long-term strategic partnership is founded on Microsoft Azure becoming Coles’ cloud platform, which will enable Coles to drive simplicity and efficiency in its operations by migrating its applications to Azure.
Together with Microsoft, Coles is building an enterprise data platform in Azure that will power advanced analytics across Coles and enable the rapid deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) technology to drive innovation in physical stores and through the supply chain.
The use of Azure AI services will improve Coles’ ability to use a variety of customer data to drive decision making and better tailor its range to meet the needs of customers and how they like to shop. These decisions will be based on deeper data analysis from its proprietary research, Flybuys and customer transactions.
In addition to more personalised customer service, a key part of Coles’ Smarter Selling strategy is in its stores, where workers will be provided with a range of new tools that will transform how they work, such as removing manual tasks for repetitive activities like stock management and price markdowns. These changes are designed to boost productivity and allow them to focus on the things that matter most to customers.
Coles’ technology and digital capability
Recent announcements from Coles have included:
Oct 5, 2018: Two new ambient automated distribution centres to be built by German automation specialist Witron as part of the modernisation of Coles’ supply chain.
Feb 12, 2019: Coles implementing SAP systems to transform store support functions in the areas of HR, indirect procurement and financial reporting.
Mar 1, 2019: Coles partners with Optus to rollout a high-speed network, driving store efficiencies and innovation.
Mar 26, 2019: Coles enters partnership with Ocado to bring its online grocery platform, automated fulfilment and home delivery to Australia.
Data warehouses are far from new. The term itself was coined back in the 1970s, and repositories for data amassed from a range of sources that can be used to inform business decisions have been part of Australia’s corporate high-tech landscape for almost as long.
With data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) the primary foci for organisations of all stripes and sizes, it’s an opportune time for businesses to review their data warehousing strategies, to ensure they’re well positioned to support burgeoning demand for insights.
Here are some tips for maximising the value of the data warehouse.
Adopt an ‘as-a-service’ model
What’s the primary role of your data warehousing team? Is it to manage infrastructure or to support the development of data programs that drive efficiency and profitability across the enterprise? If you haven’t yet adopted an ‘as a service’ model, you’ll likely find it’s the former. Management and administrative tasks – think partitioning, scaling, maintenance, back-up scripts and the like – are likely to consume a significant portion of your team’s time. As a result, there’s less time for them to work on projects that add value to the enterprise. Adopt an as a service model and all that changes. Data and service protection, database management and security are taken care of, leaving staff free to focus on exploiting data to help the organisation succeed.
Broaden your horizons
Data no longer comes in two flavours – structured and semi-structured. If your organisation is not ingesting data from a wide variety of sources – enterprise applications, mobile applications, the internet, APIs and the Internet of Things (IoT) – then you’re at the back of the pack. Today’s data integration technology makes pulling these data sources together to exploit the insights they contain a much more straightforward matter than once it was.
Implement self-service data analytics
Historically, data analytics was the remit of small specialised teams within organisations. If business units wanted queries run or information analysed, it was a matter of lodging a request and waiting for the results to be returned. Delays were a common but unavoidable occurrence.
User-friendly data analytics software has turned this model on its head. An increasing number of Australian enterprises are adopting a self-service model, whereby employees are given access to the data warehouse and provided with tools to extract insights for themselves.
The benefits of democratising data in this way can be significant. Bottlenecks can be minimised and results extracted and acted upon more quickly. Conversely, businesses that fail to throw open the data warehouse risk being left behind, as their more nimble counterparts gain a competitive ‘information advantage’.
Foster a data-driven corporate culture
Empowering employees to access and manipulate data is a vital step towards the establishment of a data-driven corporate culture, in which up-to-date information is used to inform every business decision.
“Exploiting the full potential of the corporate data warehouse is vital to the process.”
Data-driven decision making has superseded decision making based on intuition or gut feeling in at least a third of Australian boardrooms, according to 2016 research by PwC.
ICT staff can play a vital role in fostering this culture at all levels of the enterprise. Instead of acting as gatekeepers for the data warehouse, they should be regarded as trusted guides for their colleagues throughout the organisation.
Control the quality
If leveraging data across all areas of the enterprise is the aim – and it should be – it’s vital to ensure its quality and integrity. Establishing a rigorous data governance regime will ensure what’s extracted from the data warehouse is clean, trustworthy and correct.
Old-school data warehouse professionals were required to be masters of scheduling. Their challenges invariably included finding time slots when large jobs could be run without monopolising finite processing resources and disrupting other activities.
Migrating to a cloud-based, as-a-service data warehousing model puts paid to this issue. Eliminating the competition for resources allows IT staff to run multiple jobs concurrently and deliver results and insights more efficiently to stakeholders.
Improving the efficiency of the data warehouse begins with finding the right metrics with which to measure its performance and its cost to the organisation. It makes sense to include management overhead in the calculations. Many tasks and procedures which require management intervention under an in-house model can be executed automatically under an as a service model. The time savings can be considerable, over time, and should be included in any reckoning of the relative costs and benefits of the two models.
Doing more with data
In today’s digitally driven business environment, data has been dubbed the new oil. The insights it contains can help organisations become more efficient and profitable. Exploiting the full potential of the corporate data warehouse is vital to the process and Australian organisations which fail to do so may find themselves struggling to keep up with their data-driven competitors.
Peter O’Connor is the vice president of sales, Asia Pacific and Japan, at Snowflake. For more information visit www.snowflake.com.
Government regulations requiring greater compliance, the increasing need for visibility into the status of shipping loads, and an increasing responsibility for driver safety continue to drive demand for mobility technology in transport. It remains a top technology investment, according to a recent Gartner supply chain survey. Read more
A study by Zebra Technologies Corporation found that mobile technology investment is a top priority for 36 per cent of organisations and a growing priority for an additional 58 per cent, to keep up with rapidly evolving and increasing customer demand. The findings of the Future of Field Operations report indicate investments will be made in new technologies and enterprise mobile devices to enhance frontline worker productivity and customer satisfaction in field operations including fleet management, field services, proof of delivery and direct store delivery workflows.
“Driven by the acceleration of e-commerce along with customers’ heightened expectations and more focus within companies on differentiating service levels, the field operations industry is rapidly adapting the way it looks at its mobile technology investments,” said director of vertical marketing strategy, manufacturing, transportation & logistics at Zebra Technologies Jim Hilton. “Our study shows how growing challenges related to the on-demand economy drive organisations to adopt transformative technologies such as augmented reality and intelligent labels to provide visibility and integrate business intelligence for a performance edge.”
Key survey findings
Equipping frontline workers with enterprise mobile devices remains a priority to stay competitive.
- The survey shows today only one-fifth of organisations have a majority of their field-based operations using enterprise mobile devices. This is estimated to reach 50 per cent in five years.
- Respondents indicate most organisations intend to invest in handheld mobile computers, mobile printers and rugged tablets. From 2018 to 2023, handheld mobile computer usage with built-in barcode scanners is forecasted to grow by 45 per cent, mobile printers by 53 per cent and rugged tablets by 54 per cent. The higher levels of inventory, shipment and asset accuracy provided by using these devices is expected to increase business revenues.
- A key driver of productivity, efficiency and cost-savings in field operations is ensuring ruggedised enterprise devices replace traditional consumer ones. Nearly 80 per cent of respondents usually or always conduct a total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis of business devices prior to making a capital expenditure. Only 32 per cent of respondents believe that consumer smartphones have better TCO than rugged devices.
Tertiary concerns and post-sale factors are important for organisations when evaluating frontline worker enterprise mobile devices.
- The survey reveals these TCO considerations when investing in new frontline enterprise technology: replacement (47 per cent), initial device (44 per cent), application development (44 per cent) and programming/IT (40 per cent).
- Almost 40 per cent of respondents say device management and support costs are important as well as customer service (37 per cent), device lifecycle cadence (36 per cent) and repair costs (35 per cent). Such factors increasingly influence the purchase cycle, showing that those who do not provide clear value or cannot control these costs will quickly be overtaken by those who do.
Emerging technologies and faster networks are disrupting field operations.
- The survey shows seven in ten organisations agree faster mobile networks will be a key driver for field operations investment to enable the use of disruptive technology.
- Significant industry game-changers will be droids and drones, with over a third of decision makers citing them as the biggest disruptors.
- The use of smart technologies such as sensors, RFID, and intelligent labels also play a role in transforming the industry. More than a quarter of respondents continue to view augmented/virtual reality (29 per cent), sensors (28 per cent), RFID and intelligent labels (28 per cent) as well as truck loading automation (28 per cent) as disruptive factors.
Key regional findings
- Asia Pacific: 44 per cent of respondents consider truck loading automation will be among one of the most disruptive technologies, compared respectively to 28 per cent globally.
- Europe, Middle East and Africa: 70 per cent of respondents agree e-commerce is driving the need for faster field operations.
- Latin America: 83 per cent agree that faster wireless networks (4G/5G) are driving greater investment in new field operations technologies, compared with 70 per cent of the global sample.
- North America: 36 per cent of respondents plan to implement rugged tablets in the next year.
Survey background and methodology
- The Future of Field Operations Vision study reports why mobile technology investment is a top priority for organisations, with over half planning investments to keep pace with more proactive, customer-centric, business-driven systems.
- The online survey interviewed 2,075 mobility decision makers from 20 countries across the United States, Canada, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, China, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is set to trial self-driving trucks in Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas for a two-week period.
TuSimple, a self-driving truck company, has announced that the USPS has awarded it a contract to perform five round trips, for a two-week pilot. This trial will haul USPS trailers more than 1,000 miles between the Postal Service’s Phoenix, Arizona and Dallas, Texas distribution centres.
The truck will have a safety engineer and driver on board for the duration of the pilot to monitor vehicle performance and to ensure public safety.
TuSimple will run a series of its self-driving trucks for 22 hours each, which includes overnight driving, along the I-10, I-20 and I-30 corridors to make the trip through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
The freight that flows along I-10 corridor accounts for 60 percent of the total economic activity in the United States.
“It is exciting to think that before many people will ride in a robo-taxi, their mail and packages may be carried in a self-driving truck. Performing for the USPS on this pilot in this particular commercial corridor gives us specific use cases to help us validate our system, and expedite the technological development and commercialisation progress,” Dr. Xiaodi Hou, Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer, TuSimple said.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI technology in supply chain seeks to augment human performance. Through self-learning and natural language, AI capabilities can help automate various supply chain processes such as demand forecasting, production planning or predictive maintenance.
“AI supports the shift to broader supply chain automation that many organisations are seeking,” said Mr Titze. “For example, AI can enhance risk mitigation by analysing large sets of data, continuously identifying evolving patterns, and predicting disruptive events along with potential resolutions.”
Advanced analytics span predictive analytics — those that identify data patterns and anticipate future scenarios — as well as prescriptive analytics — a set of capabilities that finds a course of action to meet a predefined objective. The increased availability of Internet of Things (IoT) data and extended external data sources such as weather or traffic conditions allow organisations to anticipate future scenarios and make better recommendations in areas such as supply chain planning, sourcing and transportation.
“Advanced analytics are not new, but their impact on today’s supply chains are significant,” said Mr Titze. “They will help organisations become more proactive and actionable in managing their supply chains, both in taking advantage of future opportunities and avoiding potential future disruptions.”
The IoT is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to interact with their internal states or the external environment. “We are seeing more supply chain practitioners exploring the potential of IoT,” said Mr Titze. “Areas on which IoT might have a profound impact are enhanced logistics management, improved customer service and improved supply availability.”
Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
RPA tools operate by mapping a process in the tool language for the software ‘robot’ to follow. They cut costs and eliminate keying errors. “We are seeing a significant reduction in process lead times RPA technology is used to automate the creation of purchase and sales orders or shipments, for instance,” said Mr Titze. “RPA technology reduces human intervention and improves consistency across manual data sources within manufacturing.”
Autonomous things use AI to automate functions previously performed by humans, such as autonomous vehicles and drones. They exploit AI to deliver advanced behaviours that interact more naturally with their surroundings and with people.
“The rapid explosion in the number of connected, intelligent things has given this trend a huge push,” said Mr Titze. “The once distant thought of reducing time for inventory checks by using drones’ cameras to take inventory images, for instance, is here.”
Digital Supply Chain Twin
A digital supply chain twin is a digital representation of the relationships between all physical entities of end-to-end supply chain processes — products, customers, markets, distribution centres/warehouses, plants, finance, attributes and weather. They are linked to their real-world counterparts and are used to understand the state of the thing or system in order to optimise operations and respond efficiently to changes.
“Digital supply chain twins are inevitable as the digital world and physical world continue to merge,” said Mr Titze.
Immersive experiences such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and conversational systems are changing the way people interact with the digital world. “In supply chain, organisations might use AR along with quick response (QR) codes and mobile technology to speed up equipment changeovers in factories,” said Mr Titze. “Immersive user experiences will enable digital business opportunities that have not yet been fully realised within global supply chains.”
Blockchain in Supply Chain
Although supply-chain-related blockchain initiatives are nascent, blockchain has potential to fulfil long-standing challenges presented across complex global supply chains. Current capabilities offered by blockchain solutions for supply chain include traceability, automation, and security.
“Organisations might use blockchain to track global shipments with tamper-evident labels, allowing a reduction in the time needed to send paperwork back and forth with port authorities and improved counterfeit identification,” said Mr Titze.
“The 2019 Top Supply Chain Technology Trends You Can’t Ignore,” from Gartner provides an outlook into other emerging trends that might disrupt supply chain operations in the upcoming years, such as 5G and edge computing.
Caterpillar is to supply machinery and autonomous technology for Rio Tinto’s Koodaideri iron ore project in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
The scope of the equipment includes 20 autonomous 793F trucks and four autonomous blast drills, in addition to automation technologies and enterprise systems.
Caterpillar will complement Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future program by integrating data analytics technologies to boost production and safety.
“The Caterpillar team is looking forward to working with Rio Tinto to apply our proven mining equipment and technology and to implement additional MineStar autonomy solutions at Koodaideri — a new mine designed to capitalise on leading-edge technology,” Caterpillar group president Resource Industries Denise Johnson said.
“We are excited to work together to advance Rio Tinto’s mine automation and digitalisation program.”
Rio Tinto’s $3.8 billion Koodaideri development is the company’s next major project in the Pilbara region. It is expected to create 600 permanent jobs over a 30-year mine life.
The project is pencilled for a production start date of late 2021 and will produce up to 43 million tonnes of iron ore a year.
Western Australian Cat dealer WesTrac will organise the supply of the equipment to Koodaideri. The agreement between the two companies will create 50 new Western Australia-based roles.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said the partnership would build “the most technology-enabled and innovative mine” in the company’s Pilbara iron ore network.
“Technology is rapidly changing our mining operations as we harness innovation to make our operations safer, smarter and more productive. This extension of our partnership with Caterpillar and WesTrac represents an exciting step for our business,” Salisbury said.
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.