Maersk to introduce a virtual assistant named Captain Peter

Maersk is set to enhance its Remote Container Management (RCM) platform by a virtual assistant, named “Captain Peter”. The avatar will assist customers along the journey of their cargo.
Currently being tested by a group of select customers, technical improvements are being put in place to simplify the processes integrated into the Remote Container Management (RCM) platform.
In the first half of 2019, Maersk will release the new platform with a revamped design and new product features which will be enhanced by a virtual assistant named Captain Peter.
“Our goal is for the RCM product to look and feel like your favourite smartphone app. There is still a lot of paper work and difficult processes in global trade. Captain Peter will help take care of some of this complexity, by seamlessly engaging with the customer from end to end in the supply chain,” Anne-Sophie Zerlang Karlsen, Head of Global Reefer Management at Maersk said.
In the beginning, Captain Peter will follow some simple rules, sending up-to-date information via customers’ preferred channel, for example, SMS or e-mail, on container temperature and atmosphere conditions, as well as a timeline on its end-to-end journey. Should any deviations be observed, or the shipment be delayed, Captain Peter will notify the customer.
Once the container has arrived at its destination, Captain Peter will also check on its state and send an update to the customer. In time, customers will receive information configured to their specific needs.
The RCM technology makes a reefer’s location, temperature, humidity and power status easily available to the customer. Should any issues be detected, the customer can alert his supplier or have the shipment checked by local surveyors, potentially saving the customer millions of dollars in lost cargo.
“With the number of active users of the RCM platform constantly growing, the aspiration is for Captain Peter to gather enough information to be able to predict potential cargo damage and provide configuration suggestions before containers are shipped,” Anne-Sophie Zerlang Karlsen said.
Maersk launched RCM for customers in September 2017. It provides transparency on in-formation from 270,000 Maersk refrigerated containers equipped with machine to machine technology. Today, over 2,300 customers have signed up for the RCM solution, translating to more than 70% of Maersk’s reefer volume.

BMW invests in automated logistics

The BMW Group has revealed that it is increasingly relying on innovations from the fields of digitalisation and Industry 4.0 in production logistics.
The company has increased focus on applications such as logistics robots, autonomous transport systems at plants and digitalisation projects for an end-to-end supply chain.
According to the company, innovations coming out of many pilot projects are currently being implemented worldwide in logistics at BMW Group plants and staff can now control logistics processes from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and use virtual reality applications to plan future logistics.
“Logistics is the heart of our production system. Our broad spectrum of ground-breaking projects helps us run increasingly complex logistics processes efficiently and transparently. We are taking advantage of the wide range of available technological innovations and working closely with universities and start-ups. We are already working with tomorrow’s Industry 4.0 technologies today,” Jürgen Maidl, Head of Logistics for the BMW Group production network said.
Around 1,800 suppliers at more than 4,000 locations deliver over 31 million parts to the 30 BMW Group production sites worldwide every day. Digitalisation and innovations help the company organise logistics more flexibly and more efficiently. At the same time, almost 10,000 vehicles coming off the production line daily must be delivered to customers around the globe. Digitally connected delivery, so-called Connected Distribution, ensures that these transport routes are also more transparent.

Your MHD article: 'Make it' in I4.0

Jason Low

You snooze, you lose! That’s probably the best phrase to sum up what manufacturers across the world are experiencing in today’s highly competitive landscape. Manufacturers can no longer take a ‘wait and see’ approach as they are met with the opportunities and challenges posed by the concept of Industry 4.0. Well, it’s actually not just a concept, but a reality, that defines how manufacturers automate and adopt technologies that make them smarter.
A nation’s economy is tightly intertwined with its manufacturing output. According to the World Trade Organisation, 80% of the global trade activity between all regions is classified as manufactured goods, versus 20% as services. It is no wonder, then, that countries around the world are locked in a competitive race to become the next manufacturing hub. And many nations in the Asia Pacific are strong contenders.
For the last 20 years, China has been a steadfast superfactory for low-cost, low-value manufacturing, supplying the world with everyday commodities from food to apparel. As China moves into high-value manufacturing, a vacancy for low-value manufacturing has opened up. With its huge local market of 1.2 billion consumers, a large base of university graduates and engineers, and a friendly policy environment, India exhibits the potential to take over China to become the powerhouse for low-value manufacturing in the near future.
Comparatively developed countries like Australia, Japan, Korea, and Singapore are already in the business of manufacturing complex, innovative products. Singapore has sustained strong manufacturing growth for the last 12 months as of August, painting a bright picture for the future economy. Thailand retains a strong foothold in high-value manufacturing, enjoying a stable production in the automotive, electronics, food, and chemical-related industries. Indonesia’s manufacturing sector continues to be the nation’s biggest GDP contributor, despite a decline in the past three years.
Although these APAC countries are at different stages of transformation, and they all have their eyes on technology adoption to boost their manufacturing sector. Their intentions are telling from the findings in Zebra Technologies’ Manufacturing Vision Study.
Industry 4.0 will shake things up for manufacturers
One key insight from the study is the rise of Industry 4.0 in the region. This refers to the creation of smart factories that give manufacturers actionable visibility of their operations at every stage.
Manufacturers will be able to gain visibility of their goods at every stage of production, and the status of their assets through both proactive and reactive services to minimise downtime. In addition, the increased operational visibility will allow these manufacturers to ensure that its people are accounted for and optimise their productivity on the plant floor. With smart technologies, smart factories can ensure that enterprise processes and regulatory compliance are met throughout the manufacturing cycle. Finally, smart factories also benefit from increased security and safety.
To accomplish that, employees and plant floors are equipped with a range of technologies such as wearable technologies, Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, radio-frequency identification (RFID) solutions, and real-time location systems (RTLS) to achieve visibility over every aspect of their operations, including goods, assets, and processes.  The study estimates the number of manufacturers in the region supporting fully connected factories would nearly triple over the next five years to reach 46 per cent by 2022, significantly ahead of the worldwide average.

Technology adoption is non-negotiable 
While there are lingering concerns that automation and robotics will eventually displace the low-skill jobs on the factory floor, many industry experts and economists concede that it will be an irreversible trend. The earlier the manufacturers shore up technology and start upskilling the workers, the less painful the transition will be later.
In today’s vast and busy factories, it can be daunting to do everything manually, not to mention it is extremely slow, inefficient, and prone to mistakes. Increasingly, factory workers are offloading tasks to their technological helpers. The Zebra survey shows that in 2022, 72% of factories will arm their workers with mobile technology such as handheld computers, printers, and scanners. These mobile devices can assist the workers in looking up and recording information, and generating and inputting product labels.
Wearable and voice-directed technology are on the rise too, with 65% and 51% of respondents planning to implement them for the workers. While wearable technology is relatively new, it unlocks potential for monitoring worker safety and locations in the factory, therefore allowing operation managers to quickly attend to workplace safety events and more effectively allocate manpower in different stages, leading to improved productivity.
Voice-directed technology, on the other hand, is proving to be popular for large companies managing immense factories. Voice technology allows workers to carry out a task with both hands and receive or give instructions at the same time, elevating efficiency and productivity. What’s more, many of the big manufacturers also rely on voice technology to efficiently coordinate for just-in-time (JIT) shipments, which are typically hectic and labour intensive.
RFID, a cousin to barcode technology and a building block for IoT, is also playing a key role in connecting the factories from point to point, corner to corner, by giving the goods a digital voice and allowing them to be ‘heard’ and, therefore, tracked in real time. An RFID tag can contain much more information than what is traditionally printed on a pallet, including detailed work instructions, bill of materials, and tracking numbers, helping workers better move the goods through a production line. Today, RFID is used to vastly improve order accuracy and traceability of an item. By 2022, only 9% of the factories will be devoid of RFID.
Finally, RTLS are becoming popular among manufacturers, too. In the past, manufacturers only tracked their products at the goods-in and goods-out stages of the process, making it extremely challenging to accurately locate the source of a quality issue should one occur. This has contributed to unnecessary spending on rectifying the issue. RTLS comes to the rescue by illuminating the typically dark, obscure production process and monitoring quality issues.
That is not the only benefit. Manufacturers can also deploy RTLS to collect critical data about assets including location, stage, and condition – actionable information for factory managers to make better business decisions. These data can also be sent quickly to internal and external suppliers, so they can respond to restocking requests or demand surge swiftly. Unsurprisingly, by 2022, more than 55% of factories will be furnished with RTLS.
Manufacturing is no longer about simply making things. It will be about making high-quality things in the precise moment when they are needed – and even where they are needed (with 3D printing). Manufacturers also need to increasingly diversify their product variants, adding to the complexity in production. With trends such as mobility, robotics, automation, and IoT, the competition is heating up in the manufacturing industry.
By 2022, half of the manufacturers in APAC will have smart factories, compared to one third as the global average. Are you ready to make it big by turning your operations into an intelligent enterprise, or will you choose to stay behind?
Jason Low is the APAC lead for Specialty Printing Group, Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific. For more information visit   

Smart factories to boom by 2022

Zebra Technologies Corporation has released the results of its 2017 Asia Pacific Manufacturing Vision Study, analysing the emerging trends shaping the future of industrial manufacturing.
The regional study found that the number of manufacturers supporting a fully connected factory would nearly triple by 2022. This means 46 per cent anticipate having the capability in five years’ time.
Manufacturers will continue to adopt Industry 4.0 and the smart factory. Workers will use a combination of radio frequency identification (RFID), wearable technologies, automated systems and other emerging technologies to monitor the physical processes of the plant and enable companies to make decentralised decisions. APAC manufacturers will lead the way globally, with 77 per cent of respondents expecting to collect data from production, supply chain, and workers in a holistic manner by 2020, compared to 46 per cent doing so today.
Executives across APAC cited achieving quality assurance as their top priority over the next five years. Forward-looking manufacturers are embracing a quality-minded philosophy to drive growth, throughput and profitability. In a sign that improvements made by both suppliers and manufacturers will ultimately boost the quality of finished goods, fewer respondents say quality-related issues will be a top concern in the future. Today, 55 per cent of manufacturers see quality as a top concern, but this falls to 35 per cent in 2022.
Manufacturers expect to expand the level of technology use between now and 2022, specifically mobile technology (27 per cent vs 72 per cent), wearable technology (33 per cent vs 65 per cent), location tracking (38 per cent vs 51 per cent), and voice technology (45 per cent vs 51 per cent).
Forty-two per cent of the manufacturers expect investments in visibility technology to spur growth. Fifty-five per cent will implement real-time location systems (RTLS) and 48 per cent plan to use RFID by 2022, providing the much-needed transparency across their operations.
By 2022, 44 per cent of manufacturers expect to enable Just-In-Time (JIT) notifications for their customers. The request will increasingly come from the high-tech (48 per cent), pharmaceutical (40 per cent), automotive (35 per cent), and food & beverage (36 per cent) industries.
Vice president and general manager of Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific Ryan Goh said:
“Manufacturers are entering a new era where there are increasing expectations of faster and higher quality production along with highly competitive margins. This trend is especially relevant for Asia Pacific – a region often regarded as the manufacturing hub of the world. The Zebra APAC Manufacturing Vision Study shows that savvy manufacturers have started to invest in smart factory technologies to reap benefits such as enhanced productivity, increased visibility, and the ability to predict demands. As we move toward Industry 4.0, this trend will continue to expand and shape the industry in the coming years.”

MEGATRANS2018 to host ARTSA Global Leaders’ Summit

The Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA) is bringing domestic and international logistics leaders together under one roof for the ARTSA Global Leaders’ Summit – an integral feature of MEGATRANS2018.
Global disruption – a phrase making the rounds in the global and national logistics and supply chain industries – is a broad expression of some of the technical innovations and advancements changing how goods are moved from point of origin to their destination.
The Global Leaders’ Summit, run in conjunction with multi-modal trade show MEGATRANS2018 in May next year, aims to explore this term and just how the Australian and international supply chain can thrive in this new age of Industry 4.0, the Internet of Things and the like.
Key questions the Summit aims to address include:

  1. What are the disrupters and drivers?
  2. What does disruption mean for freight and logistics?
  3. The current status of disruption in Australia and globally?
  4. Is our industry prepared for global disruption, and how do we exploit it?

The event will cover disruption and its relevance within the global marketplace, while providing an engaging platform for solution providers and heavy-fleet operators to discuss and engage, alongside freight customers, disruptive trends in the market. These include: harmonisation, automation and autonomous vehicles, ownership of companies and equipment, road pricing, environmental regulations, new propulsion systems and human resources.

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