Autonomous connected-cars

Transport technology: act now

Australia has the opportunity to be a leader in the global shift to clean, safe, efficient transport using low and zero-emission vehicles (LEV), connected autonomous vehicles (CAV), high-frequency mass transit and intelligent transport systems.
That’s the conclusion of the report Shifting Gears: Preparing for a Transport Revolution, by the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering. A four-page summary can be accessed here and a video here.
The report, which identifies three key challenges for the transport sector – lower emissions, health, and efficient movement of people and freight – provides a blueprint for transport planning to 2030 for an incoming Federal Government.
Recommendations include the need to encourage rapid and widespread uptake of LEV, including electric cars.
To make the shift, the report recommends:

  • A national target to drive the uptake of LEV in Australia.
  • Incentives to use LEV as fleet vehicles.
  • Industry to lead the way in the uptake of LEV by ensuring that vehicles imported into Australia meet stringent standards for emissions, set by government.

The report also highlights the value of CAV, which can range from cars with partial automation through to fully automated vehicles that communicate with each other through the mobile network, and recommends the expansion of mobile coverage across the entire road network.

The authors

The investigation into the transport industry’s technology readiness was chaired by two Academy Fellows, Kathryn Fagg FTSE and Drew Clarke AO PSM FTSE.
Ms Fagg said: “The rapid advance of digital technologies across all sectors of the global economy has resulted in an extraordinary period of change.
“With Australia’s geographic isolation and long distances between urban centres, the transport sector will be both significantly disrupted and revolutionised by this technological transformation.
“Failure to be prepared will risk a decline in many aspects of our Australian way of life and society, including increased congestion and vehicle-related emissions, a deterioration in health, safety and security, and a negative impact on the cost of living, productivity and the ease of mobility.
“Australia is performing well on a number of readiness indicators and is well place to capitalise on the coming technology revolution, but we need to make smart, strategic decisions to keep pace with the technological frontier.”
Mr Clarke said: “The Academy has identified sustainability and climate change, productivity, and health as the three key challenges that will need to be addressed within the transport sector over the next decade.
“Specifically, the transport sector will need to lower emissions, improve the efficient movement of people and freight, and reduce transport-related deaths and serious injuries.
“The deployment of connected autonomous vehicles, low and zero-emission vehicles, high-frequency mass transport and intelligent transport systems are potential solutions to these challenges.”

Other recommendations in the report include:

  • Governments to set nationally consistent standards to support. productivity-enhancing technology, including for charging infrastructure and connections, data sharing and data privacy.
  • Competitive grants programs that encourage the trial of transport technologies that can be adapted to Australia’s unique geographical or climatic conditions.
  • Integrated land use and transportation planning to take into account likely network use changes from new technologies.
  • Strengthened teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects in primary and secondary schools, to support the workforce of the future.
  • University and VET courses to be developed in collaboration with industry, to ensure the relevant skills are available.
  • The report also provides a roadmap for future research to address the challenges the transport sector will face in the decade to come. Research priorities include:
    • Impact of LEVs on the grid and emissions
    • What technologies should Australia adopt early, and why?
    • What are the skills requirements of the future workforce?

The Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering is undertaking a major three-year (2018-2020) Australian Research Council Learned Academies Special Projects-funded research project to examine the readiness of different Australian industry sectors to develop, adapt and adopt new and emerging technologies, with a horizon out to 2030. The transport sector is the first industry sector to be examined by the project.
 

Toll signs seven-figure software deal

The Toll Group (Toll) has signed a three-year, seven-figure software contract with Kontainers, the UK-based enterprise software company, to power its global digital client-facing platforms.
The new agreement will see Toll introduce Kontainers’ flagship product, Enterprise, to its global forwarding operations from Q4 2019.
The online portal will enable Toll to better service and support the needs of its customers – particularly small-to-medium enterprises – by facilitating online pricing and quotes, bookings, shipment management and real-time analytics.
“The addition of Kontainers Enterprise to our digital capabilities will allow our clients to instantly obtain quotes for and book shipments with Toll at the click of the mouse.  We are excited to be collaborating with Kontainers on this digital solution as part of our commitment to investing in best-in-class systems to simplify and enhance our customer experience,” said Toll Global Forwarding president Thomas Knudsen.
The product’s rapid deployment time and track record with other large shipping brands were highlighted as important elements of the partnership.
“Kontainers is delighted to earn the trust of a top 20 global freight forwarder and provide what has now become a critical software layer. We’re delighted to be working with Toll Group and look forward to being a part of their impressive digital acceleration plans in the years ahead that will help serve their customers even better than they are today,” said Kontainers CEO, Graham Parker.
 
 
 

Hi 5 to I4.0 – from MHD magazine

Tom Rentschler

Many have written about the impact that Industry 4.0 will have on warehousing and distribution and why companies should embrace this fourth industrial revolution. But if you own or operate a small warehouse or distribution centre, you may be thinking: “How will Industry 4.0 help me?” or: “Isn’t this only for big companies?”
Yet many of the benefits of I4.0 will extend to small operations.
I4.0 includes technologies like the Internet of Things (machines talking to machines), big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, as well as collaborative robotics. And there are five very strong reasons why they will make automation a worthwhile investment for even smaller warehouse operations.

  1. True plug & play

Traditionally, automated material handling systems required a significant amount of project-specific engineering, control coding and software. Conveyor systems, for example, often need specific PLC code to optimise behaviour, such as priorities at a merging point. These ‘traffic rules’ are different for each layout and also depend on the user’s exact processes.
The costs of customising, installing and commissioning a system do not have a linear relationship to size. While the overhead may be a small proportion for large systems, on smaller systems those costs could represent up to 40% of the total installation.
By combining IoT principles with artificial intelligence and machine learning, this problem can be overcome. Imagine that you will simply place conveyor elements (or any other automated equipment) on the floor. Each element will automatically identify itself to all others and ‘connect’ to its neighbours, allowing the system to map itself and understand how it looks.

“All of these observations show that the real growth in warehouse automation will not only be with traditional, large systems.”

Meanwhile, applying big data analytics to the current, still manual operation will provide an understanding of the warehouse user processes. This allows the establishment of a first, base-line logic for running the new automated system. Once the physical automated systems are placed and used, machine learning will quickly determine how to use the equipment better and set the right traffic rules to match the system’s layout and user processes.
All this means that no more project-specific coding of controls and software will be required, significantly reducing the overhead costs to a level where automation becomes compelling for small operations.

  1. Smart systems can adapt to warehouses built for humans

Most warehouses, and certainly small ones, have been designed to be operated by humans. They have rows of shelving and people with trolleys walking through them to collect orders.  Until recently, implementing automation would require these processes to be completely replaced.
Automated systems, such as robots, used to require a very clearly defined environment that was free of unexpected interruptions. And whilst a manual warehouse may look very organised, there are many small deviations that are easy for people to deal with; just imagine a larger product overhanging a few centimetres into the next storage location, or a worker leaving their trolley in the aisle for a few minutes to use the restroom.
Changing a warehouse like that is a big step that could easily cause disruptions and risk. Yet a new generation of collaborative robots is emerging. These robots are not only safe to work alongside humans, but also use advanced sensors and artificial intelligence to adapt to changing circumstances.
Now companies can simply deploy one or two collaborative robots within their current operation. Humans can work alongside the robots, eliminating the need for drastic changes to the warehouse or the processes.
Over time, more robots can be added to gradually increase the level of automation.

  1. Small companies don’t want to stay small

Many of the small companies in the field of logistics plan to grow, sometimes very quickly. Most early-stage e-commerce companies have big ambitions, but exactly how fast, or in what direction they will develop is uncertain. This means any automation will need to be flexible so the company can start small, but scale fast when growing.
New technology such as autonomous mobile robots are perfect for this scenario. You can start with only a few. Due to peer-to-peer communication and intelligent software these vehicles are easy to implement, providing payback even in small numbers. Still, when the time comes to expand, this is as easy as buying (or leasing) more vehicles, placing them in your warehouse and powering them up.
The new vehicles will identify themselves to the existing ones and the entire fleet will adapt and optimise itself to make best use of the new robot-colleagues.
Another example of easily designing for growth is the Hasbro distribution centre in Preston operated by Toll. The modular sorter and conveyor are easy to expand as the need for product picking and despatch grow. In the meantime, the operation benefits from reduced costs and can handle more retail fulfilment cartons than you would expect from a traditional style warehouse.

  1. Smart distribution networks will help keep warehouses small

This may seem contradictory to the previous point, and indeed it applies to a different group of companies. E-commerce is pushing the boundaries of delivery times. Same-day delivery is increasingly an expectation and offered by many companies in larger population areas. By default, this requires products to be stored close to consumers in areas where there is often little space to build a warehouse.
To help keep warehouses small and still keep service levels high, Industry 4.0-related science is being used. Predictive shipping is one example, where goods will be shipped from a central warehouse to a smaller urban warehouse even before you order it. This concept relies on big data to understand and accurately predict customer behaviour.
The other method is distributed order fulfilment. A specific product may be available within the customer’s area at any number of locations. These locations could be the seller’s urban warehouses, a third party warehouse, a store, or even awaiting pick-up at the home of a customer who wants to return it. By connecting all these sources in a real-time network, the most efficient source location for the product can be found. Again, big data and artificial intelligence will manage the complexity of this process, while blockchain technology will allow secure transfer of data and money between potentially competing providers.

  1. Small companies are entrepreneurial – but may have limited cash

Investing in automation requires a long-term vision, combined with an entrepreneurial approach. This is even more true when investing in new, ground-breaking technologies. This mindset is often found at small-to-medium size companies or founder-owned companies. Decision processes can be shorter, which can make it easier to realise a vision. This is why small start-ups are often at the forefront of adopting new technology.
Cash may be a challenge, and investing in automation typically requires serious capital investment. But here new technology may also help.
Traditional automated systems have been highly customised and demanding to install, remove or change. Uncertainty about the company’s future, linked to an asset with very little value outside of that company, will lead to expensive financing.
‘Plug & play’, self-learning and high flexibility also implies that it will be just as easy to re-use equipment somewhere else. This re-use capability will reduce financing risk, making it less expensive. It will also support different models such as rental or leasing.
All of these observations show that the real growth in warehouse automation will not only be with traditional, large systems. While those systems will always be there and also become infinitely smarter, they will be fewer in quantity compared to the thousands of small warehouses that have historically been too small to automate.
With Industry 4.0, size will not matter anymore.
Tom Rentschler is head of marketing for Swisslog WDS Americas. For more information visit www.swisslog.com.
 
 
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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.

FedEx unveils autonomous delivery robot

FedEx has announced a development in delivery solutions 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 percent 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. 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,” Brie Carere, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for FedEx said.
The FedEx bot is being developed in collaboration with DEKA Development & Research Corp. and its founder Dean Kamen.

Boeing unveils Australian-developed unmanned drone

Boeing has introduced its newest unmanned platform, the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
Designed for global defense customers by Boeing Australia, it is the company’s largest investment in a new unmanned aircraft program outside the United States.
The aircraft will complement and extend airborne missions through smart teaming with existing military aircraft.
A model of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System was unveiled at the Australian International Airshow by the Australian Minister for Defence, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP.
As a research and development activity, the Australian Government and Boeing will produce a concept demonstrator called the Loyal Wingman – Advanced Development Program that will provide key learnings toward the production of the Boeing Airpower Teaming System.
“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will provide a disruptive advantage for allied forces’ manned/unmanned missions,” said Kristin Robertson, vice president and general manager of Boeing Autonomous Systems. “With its ability to reconfigure quickly and perform different types of missions in tandem with other aircraft, our newest addition to Boeing’s portfolio will truly be a force multiplier as it protects and projects air power.”
The Boeing Airpower Teaming System will:

  • Provide fighter-like performance, measuring 38 feet long (11.7m) and able to fly more than 2,000 nautical miles
  • Integrate sensor packages onboard to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and electronic warfare
  • Use artificial intelligence to fly independently or in support of manned aircraft while maintaining safe distance between other aircraft.

“This aircraft is a historic endeavor for Boeing. Not only is it developed outside the United States, it is also designed so that our global customers can integrate local content to meet their country-specific requirements,” said Marc Allen, president, Boeing International.
“The Boeing Airpower Teaming System provides a transformational capability in terms of defense, and our customers – led by Australia – effectively become partners on the program with the ability to grow their own sovereign capabilities to support it, including a high-tech workforce.”

LINX Cargo Care Group rolls out VR safety training

LINX Cargo Care Group (LINX CCG) has created a Virtual Reality (VR) safety training platform in collaboration with Curiious and Samsung Electronics Australia which is the first of its kind in Australia’s supply chain and logistics industry.

The Gear VR training platform was designed to create an immersive VR experience to enhance LINX CCG’s safety training delivery and assessment. LINX CCG partnered with communication and technology company Curiious to conceptualise and build the immersive VR experience.

LINX CCG is committed to sending its 4,000 people home safely every day, across more than 70 sites in Australia and New Zealand.

Anthony Jones, LINX Cargo Care Group CEO, is passionate about safety. His dispersed and diverse workforce operate 24/7 in hazardous environments with large machinery. The key to improving safety is to create a compelling, simulated experience that cuts through and has an impact.

“Virtual reality training will enable us to immerse all our people in diverse situations and expose them to critical risks in our hazardous work environment,” he said.

This commitment to standardise is echoed by Peter Seaman, LINX CCG Executive General Manager Health, Safety and Environment.

“The Gear VR platform enables us to deliver consistent safety training across all levels of the organisation. Often some of the messages are lost in translation in safety training and delivered in different ways, whereas this Gear VR platform minimises room for miscommunication,” Peter said.

Anthony believes VR immersion is really powerful.

“To put people into different situations where they have the chance to see how it would play out and to immerse them in a scenario, showing them real dangers and consequences, is invaluable,” he said.

Michelle Schuberg, Curiious General Manager, also believes in the benefits the immersive Gear VR technology will bring to enhancing LINX CCG’s approach to safety.

“For LINX CCG, the platform’s end goal is to help deliver their ‘home safely every day’ promise,” said Michelle.

Smarts in retail: survey finds tablets useful

Survey finds two-thirds of retail store workers believe they can provide better customer service with tablets – less than 15% of shoppers completely trust retailers to protect personal data.
Zebra has revealed the results of its 11th annual Global Shopper Study, analysing the attitudes, opinions, and expectations of shoppers, retail workers and retail decision makers. The results show that two-thirds (66 per cent) of surveyed workers believe that if they are equipped with tablets, they could provide better customer service.
Fifty five per cent of surveyed retail store workers agree that their company is understaffed, and nearly one-half (49%) feel overworked. Store workers cite frustration with their inability to assist customers as 42% find they have little time to help shoppers because of pressure to get other tasks completed. Another 28% claim that it’s difficult to get information to help shoppers. Most surveyed retail decision makers (83%) and store workers (74%) concur that shoppers can have a better experience with technology-equipped sales workers.
Meanwhile, only 13% of surveyed shoppers completely trust retailers to protect their personal data, the lowest level of trust among 10 different industries. Seventy three per cent of surveyed shoppers prefer flexibility to control how their personal information is used.
“Our study reveals shopper expectations are on the rise,” said senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Zebra Technologies Jeff Schmitz. “While retailers are addressing fulfilment challenges, they also need to provide more trusted, personalised shopping that gives customers what they want, when, where, and how they want it.”
The study also identified diverging expectations on the impact of automation between retailers and store workers. Nearly 80% of retail decision makers – compared to 49% of store workers – agree that staff checkout areas are becoming less necessary due to new technologies that can automate checkout. Also, more than half of retail decision makers (52%) are converting point-of-sale (POS) space to self-checkout, and 62% are transforming it for online order pickup.
More than one-half of shoppers (51%) believe they are better connected with their smartphones than store workers. Retailers are investing in edge technologies to combat this gap. Nearly 60% of retailers plan to increase their spending on handheld mobile computers by more than 6%, and more than one-in-five retailers (21%) plan to spend greater than 10% on rugged tablets over the next three years.
The key regional findings in the Asia-Pacific were:

  • Sixty-two per cent of retail workers view their employer more positively if provided with a mobile device for work-related activities.
  • Nearly half (49%) of retail workers say that mobile point of sale (mPOS) devices help them do their job better.

 

Australian Information Commissioner reports cyber-attack increase

The latest number of data breaches in Australia have superseded previous quarterly figures, with most data breaches resulting from a malicious or criminal attack.
From October to December 2018, 262 data breaches were notified to affected individuals and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), compared to 245 the previous quarter.
The latest quarterly report from the Office of the OAIC shows 262 data breaches involving personal information were notified between October and December 2018.
Under the Notifiable Data Breaches scheme, organisations and agencies regulated under the Privacy Act must notify individuals and the OAIC when data breaches are likely to result in serious harm.
READ: Aussie businesses see themselves as a target for cyber attacks
The leading cause of notifiable data breaches in the December quarter was malicious or criminal attack (168 notifications), followed by human error (85 notifications) and system error (9 notifications).
Most data breaches resulting from a malicious or criminal attack involved cyber incidents stemming from compromised credentials (usernames and passwords), such as phishing and brute-force attacks.
Australian information commissioner and privacy commissioner Angelene Falk reinforced the need for organisations and individuals to secure personal information by safeguarding credentials.
“Preventing data breaches and improving cyber security must be a primary concern for any organisation entrusted with people’s personal information,” said Falk.
“Employees need to be made aware of the common tricks used by cyber criminals to steal usernames and passwords.
“The OAIC works with the Australian Cyber Security Centre to provide prevention strategies for organisations, including regularly resetting and not reusing passwords.
“If a data breach occurs, early notification can help anyone who is affected take action to prevent harm.
“By changing passwords, checking your credit report, and looking out for scams using your personal information, you can help minimise the harm that can result from a data breach,” said Falk.
The OAIC continues to work with entities to promote compliance with the scheme, and can take regulatory action in cases of non-compliance with notification obligations, she said.

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.

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