Sea electric IKEA electric truck

Labor EV policy good for freight: ALC

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) believes the Federal Opposition’s commitment to work with industry on the development of cleaner transport modes must include a focus on the clear enthusiasm of many in the freight logistics sector to deliver improved environmental outcomes.
“This industry has been among the most enthusiastic proponents of the potential of electric vehicles (EV) to improve our environment, whilst also providing operational and cost advantages for freight logistics businesses,” said ALC CEO Kirk Coningham.
“The policy announced by the Federal Opposition contains a number of measures that can help make that potential a reality, provided that governments work closely with industry in helping deliver the right reforms.
“ALC is particularly encouraged by Labor’s plan to boost EV charging capacity in the national road network. Overcoming ‘range anxiety’ is an essential part of delivering swifter EV uptake by freight logistics operators, and the commitment to work with COAG to promote national consistency in charging infrastructure is most welcome.
“We also welcome the aspects of the policy designed to encourage investment in EV technology, especially the commitment to allow businesses to immediately deduct 20 per cent off any new EV valued at more than $20,000, and the intention to use the Australian Investment Guarantee to incentivise the upgrade of heavy vehicles to incorporate modern technology that can help reduce emissions.
“The commitment to develop a Low Emission Transport Strategy is a responsible one, and will help ensure that all modes of transport are making a contribution to emissions reduction. Industry must be a key partner in the development of that strategy.
“ALC further notes the Opposition’s commitment to introduce vehicle emissions standards, in line with those that currently operate in the United States. This is a significant proposal – and one that must be worked though carefully with industry if it is to succeed.
“Industry is willing to play its part in delivering better environmental outcomes for the community, and ALC would look to work with any future Labor government to ensure that such standards are introduced in an equitable fashion that does not impose an unsustainable financial burden on freight logistics operators.”

The automotive supply chain is about to go electric

BMW’s Mini production line in Oxfordshire, UK. Photo courtesy of the BBC.

Jess Dando

New research from Transport Intelligence (Ti) has found that automotive supply chains will undergo a radical transformation over the next decade as the internal combustion engine is phased out in favour of alternative propulsion systems.
It is clear that electric vehicles will play an important, even defining, role in the industry’s future. This will mean that the supply chain for the entire powertrain will be transformed and the types of components, the logistics processes employed to move them, the markets of origin and destination as well as the tiered character of automotive supply chains will fundamentally change.
Key findings in the new report – Ti Future Mobility: Electric Vehicle Supply Chain Architecture – include:

  • As the dominant technology in electric vehicles, battery manufacturing processes will transform the automotive supply chain.
  • Battery or battery pack producers with high volumes will drive out lower volume manufacturers, including many vehicle manufacturers’ own in-house operations.
  • Supply chain and logistics provision will adapt to the geography of battery and electric component production locations.
  • The integration of the battery-pack and associated drive-train elements will create a distinctive ‘propulsion platform’.
  • The complex and deeply integrated tier-system of suppliers feeding in the components will change fundamentally.

While batteries are complex pieces of engineering, they are much more straightforward to insert into a vehicle than an internal combustion engine. Plugging in the electric motors to the battery is a comparatively simple process. With no welding shop, no engine plant and a higher level of outsourcing to new component suppliers, the automotive assembly facility will shrink in scale along with its logistics requirements.
“Conventional vehicle manufacturers define assembly as a core-competence but with the changing nature of operations, this may no longer be the case. It may be that, in time, automotive manufacturers’ come to focus on the design and marketing of their product, in the way that Apple does,” said Nick Bailey, Ti’s Head of Research and the report’s co-author.
The impact of the reduction in parts and the elimination of tiers of suppliers in the powertrain supply chain might be considered to be traumatic enough for the automotive supply chain. However, in addition to this, the process of the manufacturing of batteries in terms of materials, skills and existing production structures has developed outside of the main automotive powerhouse economies. Japan, South Korea and China are dominant in the sector, sourcing their raw materials from Asia, Africa and Latin America. Europe and North America have, with a few exceptions, been side-lined in the development of new technologies of batteries as well as in the manufacturing know-how.
One important discrete aspect of any EV supply chain that will make it distinct from IC supply chains is the differing nature of the interconnection of components. Whereas the relationship between components in IC vehicles is predominantly kinetic, the relationship between electric and electronic components is reliant on the movement of electrons. This means that the nature of different component’s interfaces are very different. This obviously has major supply chain implications.
“Fundamentally there is a shift in the nature of the components used, from mechanical engineering to electrical and electronic engineering,” said report co-author Thomas Cullen, senior analyst at Ti.  “The economics of both designing and producing these components is very different. This has enormous implications for how the automotive supply chain is ordered.”

The automation intersection – from MHD magazine

Logistics in Australia and New Zealand have arrived at an automation intersection. Which way will the industry go?

We’ve reached a crossroads in Australia and New Zealand about advanced robotics technology. No longer can businesses ignore its potential or claim it’s only taking off in other markets.
Hexa Research claims the worldwide warehouse robotics market will reach USD 6 billion by 2025, off the back of 7% compound annual growth from 2017. It’s a global trend worldwide – but not one reflected down under. The Australian Centre for Robotic Vision (ACRV) shows that only 1% of robotics companies that have tried to raise research and development capital in the last decade are Australian.
This is odd when you consider the desire for robotics infrastructure close to our shores. Countries across East Asia, developed and developing, are expected to increase their robotics demand over the next three years, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). From Japan to Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand’s regional trade partners are embracing supply chain automation. So why haven’t we entrenched robotics as a natural part of the Australian and New Zealand logistics sector’s evolution, too?
The rise of robotics – but why is it slow to take off in Australia and New Zealand?
IFR data shows the global average density of robots in manufacturing and the logistics supply chain reached 85 per 10,000 employees in 2018. And despite Asia-Pacific’s reputation as slow adopters of advanced robotics technology, density here is only slightly lower, at 75 units per 10,000. This is due to Asia’s interest in automation. China is the world’s largest purchaser of robotics, while Taiwan ranks sixth (IFR). Hong Kong and Singapore’s position as regional trade hubs also make them fertile ground for automation start-ups.
In Australia and New Zealand, meanwhile, interest is just picking up. Aside from major global retailers such as Amazon’s use of drones and autonomous mobile robots (AMR) to streamline supply chain efficiency, the Australian and New Zealand logistics sector is yet to really fully embrace the idea of automation as a help, not a hindrance. Much of this reluctance stems from the fact that there are not enough local suppliers who can integrate robotics into the existing framework of logistics or supply chain infrastructure.
PricewaterhouseCoopers’ analysis of automation’s potential long-term impact shows there is little risk to many transport and logistics roles over the next ten years. The report suggests that, while robotics will reduce manual picking and transport roles, automation will instead alter positions. In effect, robotics will be less about replacing human workers and more about logistics enterprises upskilling workers into value-added roles.
KPMG echoes this position, claiming the role of a joint human-robotics workforce will be with human workers monitoring and adding intuitive customer-focused skills to the data-driven role of robots. This collaboration with ‘cobots’ doesn’t mean the end of jobs. Instead, it improves the capacity of a given role with higher throughput rates stemming from streamlined physical labour processes and maximised storage space.
Taking the leap into robotics-aided logistics sector
Whilst a 2018 McKinsey study shows Asia-Pacific still leads the world in the percentage of businesses with no plans to automate in the future, the curtain is falling on that era.
So far Cohesio has helped deploy the logistics robots in two major Australian businesses. The projects:

  1. The retail conglomerate

Our first success with the Geek+ robotics was with a leading retail business. With a presence in both Australia and New Zealand, the client wanted to innovate its supply chain and logistics picking, packing and storage.
We started by consulting on the critical requirements for the robotics installation, determining how the technology would fit in with existing warehouse management infrastructure. Our engineers and technicians mapped out the existing warehousing space and developed a blueprint grid for our robots to learn.
The project was completed within five months, from first consultation to final deployment – less than half the time it takes to integrate legacy fixed logistics infrastructure

  1. The consumable goods supplier

This food supply chain enterprise experienced significant growth in the last two years and decided now was the time to get onboard with implementing robotics technology.
The supplier already had voice technology integrated into its picking and transit process and thought of robotics as a natural next step. We sat down with the logistics team to assess suitability, to see if robotics really was the logical choice. Once a comprehensive plan for the deployment and integration process was developed, we began customising the Geek+ robotics equipment to their needs. The project is expected to be completed by October 2019.
An automation culture shift: the key is change management
Change management is the most essential part of an automation roll-out. You need to get buy-in from your whole supply chain network on the amazing potential of robotics and how it will help day-to-day productivity. This helps to remove the stigma around the technology. Partnering with an enterprise that is equally committed to your business goals, including managing the evolution of your operations into future, is invaluable. Automation is as much a state of mind as it is cold hard steel.

Are you ready for robotics?
A comprehensive robotics deployment might not be ideal for every logistics enterprise. Voice technologies and legacy warehousing infrastructure have stood the test of time for a reason. But refusing to consider automation as a viable means of improving operations is no longer an option. The world is progressing, and Australia and New Zealand’s regional trading economies with it. Hexa Research shows that Asia-Pacific, perennial automation laggards, will be close to matching Europe in robotics market revenue by 2025.
We need to be part of the change and shape automation to suit the our national tastes. The ACRV Roadmap claims the missing pieces restricting national growth are knowledge about the right technology, and robotics experts to lead the integration.

Cohesio’s partnership with Geek+ is one of the first commercial robotics business tailored to the Australian and New Zealand markets to meet the needs of national organisations and customers. The diverse technology and engineering team can help companies build out and implement scalable robotics that suits their operations, now and into the future.
Are you prepared for a new mechanised world and ready to join the automation evolution with a robotics solution for your business? The time is now.
For more information call 1300 66 93 94, email info@cohesiogroup.com or visit www.cohesiogroup.com.

Dr-Gillian-Miles_NTC-CEO

NTC appoints new chief executive officer

The National Transport Commission (NTC) has announced the appointment of Dr Gillian Miles as its new chief executive officer  and commissioner.
Dr Miles, a former Victorian government senior executive, will commence in the role next week following an extensive recruitment process.
NTC chairwoman Carolyn Walsh said the appointment of Dr Miles has come at an important time with the NTC undertaking a number of significant reforms in land transport.
“Innovation, change management and a strategic mindset were front of mind for this appointment, particularly as the NTC continues to make major progress on several landmark transport reforms, including the regulation of automated vehicles and a review of the heavy vehicle national law.
“I’m confident that Gillian’s wealth of knowledge and experience is well suited to leading the NTC through a period of significant change across the land transport sector,” Ms Walsh said.
Ms Walsh also acknowledged the contribution of acting CEO Dr Geoff Allan following the departure of former CEO and commissioner Paul Retter AM in late 2018.
Dr Miles comes to the NTC with a long history of related senior appointments, including:

  • Head of Transport for Victoria, 2015–2018.
  • Chief executive officer, City of Greater Geelong, 2014–2015.
  • Head of strategy & performance, Transport Accident Commission, 2013–2014.
  • Deputy Secretary, Transport, Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure, 2009–2013.
  • Deputy Secretary, Community Development, Department of Planning and Community Development, 2007–2009.
  • Executive Director Regional Services, VicRoads, 2002–2007.
  • Board member Roads Australia.

Conveying equipment market worth over USD 34bn

According to a new research report by the market research and strategy consulting firm Graphical Research, Conveying Equipment Market size was valued USD 34 billion in 2017.
The expanding construction industry, which itself was worth nearly USD 9.5 trillion in 2015, will positively impact conveying equipment demand over the coming timeframe. Surging applications in the automotive industry for manufacturing and shipment of vehicles will generate heavy demand for conveyor systems, in turn influencing the market size. In addition to this, rising e-commerce and the food & beverages industry, which in turn demands simultaneous production and delivery of goods, will also be lucrative sectors contributing towards conveying equipment market growth.
Stringent government regulations to ensure employee safety is another vital factor fuelling the industry size. For instance, OSHA (occupational safety and health administration) has restricted human exposure to harmful work environments, which has made it mandatory to install these systems across such work spots, thereby boosting the industry’s growth trends.
However, tight supply of raw materials such as steel, polyester, cotton, rubber and coated fabrics over the coming years may inhibit industry progress.
Bulk handling conveyors are estimated to register a CAGR of around 2% over 2018-2024. These are mainly used for loading and unloading of goods. Some of the bulk handling products include belts for coal, ash handling systems, coal handling systems, rotary air lock, truck loading machine, rotary air valve, truck loaders, and rotary feeder. Countries such as China and India, where coal is used as a fuel on a large scale, will contribute significantly towards bulk handling conveyors’ market growth.
Conveyor system market share for durable goods is projected to surpass USD 15 billion by 2024. The growth can be attributed to the growing industrialisation and shifting focus towards bulk production to minimise production time and costs.
Conveying equipment market size for non- durable goods will register a CAGR of around 1% over 2018-2024, driven by increasing demand across food & beverages industry.
Geographically, the market is segmented into North America, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Europe, and MEA.
APAC conveying equipment market size is estimated to grow at a CAGR of around 2.5% over 2018-2024, driven by favourable regulations, increased infrastructure spending and growing industrialisation across this region. India and China are estimated to drive the region’s growth.
US conveying equipment market will witness a significant growth over the forecast timeframe, catalysed by the expansion of the automotive and aerospace industries across this region.
The European market is poised to grow noticeably over the projected timeframe, driven by the growing automation in automotive and manufacturing industries. Germany and France will be the major revenue pockets.
Key industry participants are Sandvik, Dematic, Rexnord, Nordstrong Equipment, Intelligrated, Daifuku, Webster, Richards Wilcox, Hitachi, FMC Technologies, and Siemens.
The report can be viewed here.

Toyota plans Victoria's first hydrogen refuelling station

Toyota Australia, with funding assistance from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), has unveiled plans to build a $7.4 million Hydrogen Centre at the company’s former site of car manufacturing at Altona in Melbourne’s west.
The Hydrogen Centre is part of a larger plan to transform the former Altona site into a Centre of Excellence.

As part of the Hydrogen Centre project, existing manufacturing infrastructure will be repurposed into Victoria’s first integrated hydrogen site, complete with electrolyser, commercial grade hydrogen refuelling station and an education centre with live demonstrations.
ARENA will contribute $3.1 million towards the Hydrogen Centre development, with Toyota Australia investing the remaining $4.3 million.
Toyota Australia’s president and CEO Matt Callachor said the Hydrogen Centre announcement was a step towards the company meeting its target of zero CO2 emissions from sites and vehicles by 2050.
“This is a very exciting time for Toyota Australia. Today’s announcement with ARENA aligns with our global drive to promote sustainable mobility and to play a leading role in the transition to a decarbonised future,” Mr Callachor said.
“Hydrogen has the potential to play a pivotal role in the future because it can be used to store and transport energy from wind, solar and other renewable sources to power many things, including vehicles like the Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV).
“Right now, the biggest factor to the success of hydrogen being widely available is the lack of infrastructure. The sooner we move to a zero emissions society, the better, and Toyota is committed to making this a reality.”
ARENA chief executive officer Darren Miller said Toyota’s Hydrogen Centre would demonstrate hydrogen as a viable fuel source for transport and as an energy storage medium.
“Toyota is helping to pave the way for more renewably powered vehicles in Australia, where the uptake of electric vehicles has been slower than other countries.
“The demonstration of low-cost hydrogen production and distribution is key to the uptake of hydrogen-powered electric vehicles in areas such as truck, bus and government fleets.
“Australia holds a competitive advantage to play a global role in the emerging hydrogen export market due to our existing expertise and infrastructure. We’re excited to see Toyota add their skills to the mix and be a major player in increasing the reach of hydrogen applications in different sectors,” Mr Miller said.
Construction on the Hydrogen Centre will commence this year, with the education centre expected to be open by December 2019, and the electrolyser and hydrogen refuelling station fully operational by late 2020.
Once up and running, the hydrogen refuelling station will be able to fill a vehicle, like Toyota’s Mirai Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV), in between three and five minutes.
As part of its ongoing hydrogen advocacy efforts, Toyota Australia has been providing Toyota Mirai FCEV vehicles to local governments and commercial organisations through its hydrogen loan program.

Labor to review ‘exorbitant’ port surcharges

Peak body Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) has welcomed the State Opposition’s support to stop ‘exorbitant’ port surcharges unfairly imposed on truck operators at Port Botany and its pledge to work with RFNSW in a review of exemptions for the luxury-vehicle tax.
Opposition Leader Michael Daley and Shadow Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Jodi McKay said landside prices and charges had ‘escalated rapidly without explanation or justification’ and promised to put an end to ‘unfettered and unfair pricing practices’ at the port, if elected on Saturday.
“On behalf of our members, RFNSW is pleased the Opposition has listened and acted on the concerns of our members. It’s time industry had a fair and robust price monitoring system at the port,” RFNSW’s chief executive Simon O’Hara said.
“For over two years now, RFNSW has been fighting hard to raise awareness of these mounting surcharges imposed by the stevedores and their crippling financial impact on truck operators. It’s out of control.
“We’ve said all along there must be an independent body called in to regulate infrastructure and other landside charges, which is why we welcome the Opposition’s pledge to formalise the involvement of IPART in the setting of port charges.”
Mr O’Hara said RFNSW was pleased that Ms McKay had responded to industry concerns over the luxury vehicle tax, stating that the ALP would maintain ‘all current exemptions and concessions, including those for heavy trailers.’
“Following our ongoing advocacy and dialogue on behalf of our members, Ms McKay has assured us that the Opposition is committed to a review of those exemptions, in order to protect the trucking industry and will work with RFNSW as part of that review,” he added.

Health support – from MHD magazine

The pharmaceutical industry
The pharmaceutical industry is a knowledge-based, technology-intensive industry that comprises bio-medical research, biotechnology firms, originator and generic medicines companies and service-related segments, including wholesaling and distribution.
The volume of the global pharmaceutical market has more than doubled in the past ten years. By the end of 2016, the global sales volume was estimated to have risen to nearly $A1.5 trillion.
In a snapshot from the CSIRO in 2017, the Australian medical technologies and pharmaceutical sector provided 48,000 jobs in total, across 50 pharmaceutical companies, 400 biotechnology companies and 500 medical technology companies.
And the importance of this industry is growing. Australia’s pharmaceutical market is set to rise to over $A25 billion by 2020.
This industry seeks to deliver medication and related health services that meet the best possible health and economic objectives, including timely access to medicines that meet appropriate standards of quality, safety and efficacy.
The simplified logistics and shortened supply chain of the 1930s, where most pharmacists were still mixing powders and vials and making tablets in their own pharmacies for delivery to customers, made it much easier to meet these objectives.
Today, medicines are distributed through a complex supply chain, which can be disrupted anywhere along its path, from manufacturing to dispensing. The pharmaceutical supply chain is a core part of Australia’s healthcare system, making medicines readily available to all Australians, regardless of location.
SSI SCHAEFER develops and implements supply chain solutions that cater for the future growth of pharmaceutical manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. SSI SCHAEFER order fulfilment systems support everything from traditional wholesale distribution to omni-channel logistics, including fast-paced e-commerce requirements.

Pharmaceutical wholesale
Pharmaceutical wholesalers procure, distribute and sell a wide range of pharmaceutical and medicinal products. These products include prescription medicines, pharmacy-only medicines, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, other healthcare products and veterinary pharmaceuticals.
Pharmaceutical wholesalers in the Australian market generate $A14.6bn in annual revenue and employ around 13,000 staff.
Although the principles of a pharmaceutical supply chain are similar to other products and industries, there are very specific issues and characteristics that make it different. Within the supply chain there are a number of rigorous regulatory requirements, such as international customs and importation hurdles, complex transport and storage needs, massive SKU proliferation, and significant pressure to maintain continuity of supply.
Pharmaceutical supply chains are not only important for hospitals, practitioners and consumers, but are also important from social and political perspectives. The impacts of disrupted supply can be felt widely and quickly, and have serious ramifications. It is crucial that medicines be delivered at the right time to the right person in standard conditions. Improper distribution of medicinal products not only affects brand reputation, customer satisfaction and company profits, but can also disrupt the healing processes of patients and negatively impact public health.

“Consistent, reliable service levels are clearly paramount, as is the compliance with regulatory requirements.”

Factors that contribute to unanticipated shortages of medicines include manufacturing faults, logistical failures and unexpected or unpredictable disease outbreaks. Additionally, unexpected safety signals may require recalling of batches with a consequential scarcity of remaining supplies at short notice.
With notable unexpected shortages, the vulnerability of the supply of medicines is exposed. Supply may be restricted or delayed anywhere in the supply chain from manufacturing to the dispensary. The high margins on pharma products, coupled with the limited patent lifespans, mean pharmaceutical companies must significantly focus on maintaining supply.

The challenges
Consistency. End-user customers demand the highest standards of quality and with zero-fault tolerance. Consistent, reliable service levels are clearly paramount, as is the compliance with regulatory requirements.
Regulation. The foundations of Australia’s pharmaceutical supply chain have shifted over recent years due to global and local factors. The NMP (National Medicines Policy) commits to providing timely, Australia-wide access to affordable medicines that meet appropriate standards of quality, safety and efficacy, while maintaining a responsible and viable medicines industry.
Internationally, the industry is moving towards the new Goods Distribution Practice (GDP), which is similar to the Good Wholesaling Practice, but extends the requirements around handling, transportation and traceability. Incorporating these will add challenging logistics hurdles that demand significant investment in existing Australian infrastructure.
Pack variety. There is a significant variety of packaging in the pharmaceutical industry – a vast array of box sizes and dimensions, packets and satchels, glass vials and jars including liquid dosage, plastic bottles etc. Also, packaging must be safeguarded throughout the logistics chain to maintain perfect appearance, not only for aesthetics but also for clarity of essential identification.
The rise of generics. Over recent years, the percentage of generics in the market has been steadily increasing and they are estimated to account for about 90 percent of all prescriptions by 2020 9 This continues to significantly contributes to SKU growth with wholesalers.

“Supply chain visibility is considered of major importance and a significant challenge facing the industry.”

An increasing number of prescriptions. Alongside the rise of generics, there has been an overall rise in the number of prescriptions, in the vicinity of 6.8 per cent in 2015. As the demand for medicines continues to grow, more accurate forecasting and inventory management have become increasingly important.
The rise of cold chain logistics. With demand for cold chain logistics growing, it has become increasingly difficult for pharmaceutical companies to manage fluctuations in demand for temperature-dependent medicines, which can result in exceedingly high inventory costs due to the cooling requirements. This can be of high concern in the Australian market, particularly evident during the hottest January on record that we experienced this year.
The European GDP guidelines extend adherence to storage conditions, as indicated on the packaging, to the transportation leg of the journey. The compliance requirement has long been adhered to with cold chain products – generally anything below 8°C. However, it is new for the majority of the products found in most medicine cabinets, often labelled for 25°C. For example, in practice, the GDP guidelines now apply to about 80% of pharma products in the EU.
Supply chain visibility. Many products are highly sensitive and require end-to-end documentation. Visibility is the ability to track and trace prescription medication. It is also essential to monitor and comply with expiration dates. Supply chain visibility is considered of major importance and a significant challenge facing the industry. Management’s ability to achieve a nearly risk-free environment is primarily enabled by visibility technology that introduces intelligence into every step of the healthcare supply chain.
Storage locations. Storage and picking of pharmaceuticals dictates significant variety and different environments. There is also a need for dedicated storage areas for different types of products such as OTC medications and products, narcotics and hazardous chemicals. Some items require cooling, and others must be held in secure storage.

Order fulfilment systems
SSI SCHAEFER draws on a wealth of expertise and technologies to facilitate the continuous and efficient supply of products in the pharmaceutical industry. SSI SCHAEFER’s order fulfilment systems, whether manual, semi, or fully automated, can flexibly be adapted to the increasing requirements and demands of this industry sector, and include:

  • Carton and tote bin conveyor and handling systems for efficient material flow.
  • High productivity ‘goods-to-person’ order picking systems.
  • ‘A-frame’ fully automated product dispensers.
  • Product and order verification scanning machines.
  • Automatic storage and retrieval systems for tote bins and pallets.
  • Warehouse management software for manual or automated warehouses delivering:
    • Serial number tracking through automatic recording of data.
    • Expiry date management through stock monitoring and automatic early expiry date detection.
  • Automatic-guided transport systems.
  • Robots for both picking and pallet loading.
  • RF, voice or light directed manual picking to order cartons or pallets.
  • Plastic tote bins for product storage and order delivery.

“Synchronisation between the collector belt and the order totes ensures a continuous stream of automatically picked products, up to 10,000 items an hour.”

Goods-to-person systems

SSI SCHAEFER goods-to-person high productivity picking systems eliminate walking by automatically retrieving products from an automatic storage system and conveying them to an operator at an ergonomically designed pick station. Order totes or cartons are also automatically conveyed in and out of the pick station, allowing the operator to continually fulfil orders without moving from the station. A combination of displays and light curtains ensures high accuracy and productivity. Operators can pick individual items, shelf packs or small cartons at the station.
A-frames

SSI SCHAEFER A-frames automatically dispense pharmaceutical products onto a collector belt that runs through the centre of the A-frame and automatically delivers the collected items into an order tote or carton. Synchronisation between the collector belt and the order totes ensures a continuous stream of automatically picked products, up to 10,000 items an hour, making the A-frame ideal for dealing with fast moving small items in peak times.
Warehouse management software

SSI SCHAEFER’s warehouse management software, WAMAS, intelligently manages the end-to-end processes in both manual and automated distribution centres. WAMAS ensures tight integration between the various automated subsystems and operational processes, and is rich in the functionality required for pharmaceutical distribution, including:

  • Batch-lot & product ID tracking.
  • Check weighing.
  • Order cubing.
  • Route prioritisation.
  • Order consolidation.

WAMAS manages and controls all intralogistics processes including efficient and flexible order processing, goods movement, and resource optimisation, along with the provision and analysis of logistics performance data so critical to the supply chain visibility required by the pharmaceutical industry.
SSI SCHAEFER is a strong partner to the pharmaceutical industry, having worked with many of industry leaders over the last 20 years. Contact SSI SCHAEFER directly for case study evidence. For more information, call +61 2 8799 3600 or visit www.ssi-schaefer.com.
 
 
 
 

New truck design on the horizon: just add wheels

Prof. Amir Khajepour stands next to a vehicle containing his new wheel unit.

Vehicles could be affordably produced for a wide variety of specialised purposes using a sophisticated wheel unit developed by researchers at the University of Waterloo, Canada.
The self-contained unit combines a wheel and an electric motor with braking, suspension, steering and a control system in a single module designed to be bolted to any vehicle frame.
It would free manufacturers from making huge investments to develop those components from scratch and enable the economical production of specialised vehicles in even small quantities.
“The idea is modularity and plug-and-play control capability,” said Amir Khajepour, a mechanical and mechatronics engineering professor at Waterloo. “Our wheel unit, in a sense, is a full vehicle with only one wheel. All that’s missing is a body.”
Automotive researchers first applied the concept to electric, two-seater urban cars, which promise to ease congestion and reduce pollution, but make up only a tiny fraction of sales because of high prices, space limitations and safety concerns.
Mass-produced wheel units would significantly reduce production costs whilst also creating space for passengers that would otherwise be devoted to mechanical components such as steering columns.

To improve the stability of the tall, narrow cars, researchers also designed and prototyped the units – which weigh about 40 kilograms and have about 25 horsepower – to enable active wheel cambering, or tilting.
“Companies will be able to produce a smaller car that is cheaper, too,” said Mr Khajepour, director of the Mechatronic Vehicle Systems Lab. “Right now, we are not there. You have to pay more to get a smaller car, to get less.”
The next step in the research involves scaling up the wheel unit, technically called a corner module, for large utility and commercial vehicles.
That would pave the way for more cost-effective production of low-volume, specialised vehicles with customised bodies in fields such as rescue operations.
“It’s an economy of scale problem,” Mr Khajepour said. “Corner modules would allow us, without enormous development costs, to make vehicles that are specific for each application, for each function, by concentrating only on the design of the body and the user interface.”
A paper on the research, Development of a Novel Integrated Corner Module for Narrow Urban Vehicles, was co-authored by Khajepour, former master’s student Mohammad-Amin Rajaie and post-doctoral fellows Alireza Pazooki and Amir Soltani. It first appeared online in Journal of Automobile Engineering in January 2018 and in print on February 1, 2019.
 

Delivering the future: the delivery robot arrives

FedEx Corp. has launched a new agent to meet the rapidly changing needs of consumers: the FedEx SameDay Bot, an autonomous delivery device designed to help retailers make same-day and last-mile deliveries to their customers.
With the bot, retailers will be able to accept orders from nearby customers and deliver them by bot directly to customers’ homes or businesses the same day. FedEx is collaborating with companies such as AutoZone, Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens and Walmart to help assess retailers’ autonomous delivery needs. On average, more than 60 per cent of merchants’ customers live within three miles of a store location, demonstrating the opportunity for on-demand, hyper-local delivery.
“The FedEx SameDay Bot is an innovation designed to change the face of local delivery and help retailers efficiently address their customers’ rising expectations,” said Brie Carere, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for FedEx. “The bot represents a milestone in our ongoing mission to solve the complexities and expense of same-day, last-mile delivery for the growing e-commerce market in a manner that is safe and environmentally friendly.”
The FedEx bot is being developed in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research Corp. and its founder Dean Kamen, inventor of many life-changing technologies, including the iBot personal mobility device and the Segway.
“The bot has unique capabilities that make it unlike other autonomous vehicles,” Mr Kamen said. “We built upon the power base of the iBot, an advanced, FDA-approved, mobility device for the disabled population with more than 10 million hours of reliable, real-world operation. By leveraging this base in an additional application, we hope that the iBot will become even more accessible to those who need it for their own mobility.”
The FedEx bot is designed to travel on sidewalks and along roadsides, safely delivering smaller shipments to customers’ homes and businesses. Bot features include pedestrian-safe technology from the iBot, plus advanced technology such as LiDAR and multiple cameras, allowing the zero-emission, battery-powered bot to be aware of its surroundings. These features are coupled with machine-learning algorithms to detect and avoid obstacles, plot a safe path and allow the bot to follow road and safety rules. Proprietary technology makes the bot highly capable, allowing it to navigate unpaved surfaces, kerbs, and even steps for extraordinary door-to-door delivery.
The initial test will involve deliveries between selected FedEx Office locations. FedEx Office currently offers a SameDay City service that operates in 32 markets and 1,900 cities using branded FedEx vehicles and uniformed FedEx employees. The FedEx bot will complement the FedEx SameDay City service.
The FedEx bot will support retailers in several segments, and the first group of retail customers to view the prototype have recognised the value the technology can bring to their industries.

©2019 All Rights Reserved. MHD Magazine is a registered trademark of Prime Creative Media.

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