Warehouse automation company Vanderlande has developed a ‘cobot application’ (a robot physically capable of working alongside human operators) together with the Finnish trading company in assembly and fastening materials, Würth Oy, and its logistics software partner (Leanware Oy) in a shared pilot project. The cobot is now operational at Würth’s logistics centre in the town of Riihimäki, just north of Helsinki.
Robotic technology has long been used in the warehousing industry for the automated movement of goods. However, the SIR (Smart Item Robotics) is unique, with its utilisation of a robotic unit that is able to work harmoniously in the same area as a human operator and is abe to smartly ‘pick and place’ individual items. In this way, the project addresses one of the key challenges in the market, which is the continuing lack of available and skilled workers.
One of SIR’s most significant strengths is its ability to handle various products without SKU teaching. In addition, intelligent stacking enables the efficient positioning of goods, while products are handled smoothly and securely.
After a lead time of less than two months, SIR has been integrated into Würth’s daily operations alongside Vanderlande’s flexible storage, retrieval and transportation system, ADAPTO, to seamlessly pick products for its customer orders. It can be controlled using the same Leanware system interface as other processes in the Riihimäki logistics centre and represents Vanderlande’s Smart Item Robot to be used in live operations.
“In practice, SIR is now entering school, where it will develop greatly,” said Würth’s logistics manager Terhi Vesala. “In the beginning, we will learn what type of products the cobot can handle, how it can better enhance the picking process on site, and the most logical division of work. We are striving for total efficiency in human and cobot cooperation, so that the strengths of each can be optimised. In other words, we are experiencing what this robot is truly capable of.”
“This pilot project will give us invaluable experience in the continued development of robotic technology,” added Terry Verkuijlen, executive vice president Warehousing and Parcel at Vanderlande. “Thanks to the logistics expertise that exists in Finland and the close partnership we enjoy with Würth, Riihimäki had the ideal conditions in which to bring SIR to life. Of course, this is an early stage in its development, so we will be proactively monitoring the situation, and working closely with Würth and Leanware to further optimise SIR’s capabilities.”
One of Australia’s largest independent grocery retailers will build an $80 million distribution centre in the northern suburbs of Adelaide.
The Drakes Distribution Centre, which has received planning consent from the City of Playford and is fully funded by the South Australian family-owned business, will be located on a 17 hectare site at Edinburgh North.
“This is a major investment in the sustainable future of Drakes Supermarkets in South Australia,” said Drakes general manager Bob Soang.
Preliminary site works have begun on the 104,000sqm development, which will have capacity to house approximately 23,000 separate lines of products including grocery, dairy and frozen foods.
The distribution and logistics centre will also incorporate more than $12 million worth of robotics as part of a high-tech warehouse picking system.
Approximately 300 jobs are expected to be created during construction with a further 120- 250 ongoing full-time equivalent positions when the centre opens. It is expected to be operational by June 2019.
Started in Adelaide in 1974, Drakes Supermarkets now has more than 50 stores across South Australia and Queensland, an annual turnover in excess of $1 billion and 5,500 staff nationally.
“As a local family-owned business we are pleased to create so many jobs in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, which have faced many challenges in recent years,” Soang said.
Edinburgh Parks is just a few kilometres from the former Holden car manufacturing plant, which closed last year.
City of Playford Mayor Glenn Docherty said the Drakes Distribution Centre was a major boost for the economy and would support the forecasted growth of 35,000 new residents in the Playford Council area by 2036.
“As the gateway to the north, we are perfectly positioned to accommodate this development, particularly with infrastructure development such as the Northern Connector Expressway,” Docherty said.
The area is also home to the Northern Adelaide Food Park, a food manufacturing and processing hub that has attracted Coles, Inghams, Infuse Bottling Co and Comfresh. The precinct will also be connected to the South Australian GigCity network of high-speed broadband.
Drakes Supermarkets will continue to operate its fresh fruit and vegetable distribution centre at Pooraka and its meat distribution centre at Beverley.
PACCAR Parts has officially opened a second parts distribution centre (PDC) in the Brisbane logistics hub of Berrinba, Brisbane, in a move to reduce delivery times to dealers and boost parts availability to customers in its retail network.
The purpose-built facility features just over 6,000 square metres of warehouse space.
The PDC, which shipped its first orders in December, services locations throughout Queensland and northern New South Wales (NSW). By year’s end it will supply locations in the Northern Territory and regional NSW.
The Brisbane PDC will enable PACCAR Parts to offer next day delivery to 74 per cent of its dealers, which represents an increase of next-day deliveries by 68 per cent.
“PACCAR Parts’ mission is uptime – moving customers and businesses forward,” said PACCAR Parts General Manager, Chris Scheel.
“Ensuring the availability of parts and service to customers is the number one thing we need to do in the parts business.
“For primary dealers we’re now delivering next day versus three-four days previously. For VORs (vehicle off road), the dealer drops in an order, we pick the part, and it’s received within hours,” he says – adding that dealers will also benefit from reduced freight cost in these emergency situations.
Delivery speed – and accuracy – will be enhanced by the latest technology installed in the PDC. The Berrinba warehouse is the first PACCAR PDC to use 100 per cent voice pick technology. Staff are fitted with headsets that tell them where to go and what to pick – and also in what order to determine the most efficient pick pattern.
“Voice-pick technology allows our distribution associates to have two hands free and keep their eyes where they are picking. This enhances quality, efficiency and safety,” said Scheel.
Berrinba is also the first PACCAR PDC globally to feature ‘wire guidance’, an electromechanical system that controls vehicle steering by tracking an energised guidewire secured in the floor. This system frees operators from steering responsibilities in very narrow aisles, such as those that stock Paccar’s smaller stock items.
“Fast-moving parts are stored at the front of the building to really speed up velocity,” said Scheel.
Nationally, PACCAR Parts has also been working closely with dealers to improve retail availability. This has resulted in a 45 per cent reduction in emergency orders over the past five years; and 97 per cent retail availability He notes this has been achieved in a period when stock-keeping units have grown by 35 per cent.
This growth will be sustained, in part, by big investments both in product as well as the dealer/retail network. Speaking at the PDC opening, PACCAR Australia managing director, Andrew Hadjikakou, said the company would invest heavily in new product over the next two years, including two new Kenworth models under development (T410 and T360); and the move to locally manufacturing of DAF, starting with the best-selling CF mid-year.
Significant further investment is also slated for PACCAR’s 80-strong retail network, with five new locations added in 2017 and another four to come on line in 2018. At the same time, PACCAR is in the midst of expanding the TRP store network, with new outlets scheduled to open in Ballarat and Pakenham through March and April.
“To support this, this facility has become absolutely necessary,” said Hadjikakou.
A new online platform called uTenant offers a cost-effective alternative to commercial agents for Australia’s freight, logistics and warehousing industry – drawing comparisons to services such as Uber and Airbnb.
“uTenant is intended to disrupt the commercial leasing industry like Uber has for taxis and Airbnb has for holiday accommodation. For tenants, the web-based portal will curate a list of available properties based on their specific size, location and preferred term of lease amongst other things, and connect them with landlords to arrange inspections, negotiate terms and sign a lease,” explains uTenant founder and director, Matt Sampson.
uTenant is an online commercial property portal that streamlines finding, inspecting and leasing warehouse space for tenants, whilst amplifying property visibility for landlords, helping them to source tenants and lease space cheaper and faster.
The brainchild of entrepreneur and former commercial leasing agent Matt Sampson, uTenant puts tenants and landlords in direct contact and provides a confidential, transparent, cost- and time-effective alternative to the old way of leasing space.
“With uTenant, we have reimagined how industrial warehouse space is leased, providing significant advantages and savings for the two most important parties to the transaction – the tenant and the landlord,” says Sampson. How uTenant works
Tenants enter their specific requirements into the uTenant portal
uTenant curates a tailored list of suitable properties, which have already been validated as legitimate
Tenants shortlist preferred properties and arranges inspections directly with the landlord or through uTenant
Inspections take place and direct tenant-landlord negotiations commence
On conclusion of a lease, standard fee payable to uTenant by landlord, with uTenant sharing a percentage of this with the tenant (fee sharing n/a in NSW)
Industrial Conveying (Aust) (ICA) has signed on to exhibit at MEGATRANS2018 – a new supply chain and logistics trade show taking place in Melbourne, 10–12 May.
ICA offers a range of tailored engineered solutions to help manufacturers move materials and products around production facilities and around the world.
The business joins the growing list of material handling leaders signing on to showcase their wares at MEGATRANS2018. Find out more.
Australian e-commerce fulfilment company eStore Logistics has committed to a 12,515sqm warehouse in LOGOS Property’s Marsden Park in New South Wales.
The company’s current clients include Kogan.com, Temple and Webster, Hairhouse Warehouse, Patagonia, Dick Smith and Essendon Football Club.
“This expansion highlights our rapid growth, driven by our market leading proprietary IT and omnichannel fulfilment service and solutions,” said Leigh Williams, Managing Director, eStore Logistics.
“Our new facility in Marsden Park will feature world-leading logistics systems that support robust e-commerce fulfilment processes. We have complex algorithms which minimise manual handling and human decision making while maximising accuracy. We’re excited to be expanding our business and making our services available to more online retailers and enabling them to get orders to their customers super-fast at low cost.”
Supply chain consultancy TM Insight carried out design work for the facility.
“We partnered with eStore Logistics to design a facility that maximised storage density, but also allowed for approximately 30 per cent of the warehouse footprint to be allocated for product staging and returns,” said Travis Erridge, Director, TM Insight. “It is pivotal that sufficient footprint is designated to product staging and returns, as it is an inherent challenge in the e-commerce landscape.
“Despite the allowance for a significant percentage of floor area being allocated to product staging and returns, the TM Insight design enabled eStore Logistics to achieve 1.5 pallets per square metre of floor area, well above the ratio that most 3PLs (third-party logistics operators) adopt in their operations.”
The facility will be operational in November 2018 and will have an end value of approximately $25 million.
Privately owned on-premises liquor wholesaler, Paramount Liquor, has made large-scale use of refurbished Linde Material Handling forklifts to help minimise costs in a highly competitive industry.
The family company competes successfully in a market contested by major local and overseas players.
Paramount Liquor founder Mark Rowe has seen plenty of competitors in the on-premises wholesale liquor business fail over the last three decades, but his business has succeeded and expanded.
One of the key decisions Mark has made in the last 18 months has been to rely on refurbished Linde forklifts and reach trucks. The business now has 30 of them at its Melbourne and Sydney warehouses.
“We don’t lease anything,” says Mark. “We own everything we’ve got, including buildings.
“My experience has been that maintenance costs on the used Linde equipment we run still come in below what our outgoings would be to purchase or lease new equipment.”
Mark adds that the company constantly adapts to the marketplace in order to outperform its competitors. “As a family company Paramount Liquor has the advantage of rapid decision-making – the buck stops with me,” he says.
“I always strive to reduce my costs so if I am offered a good deal on refurbished equipment, as I always have been with Linde, I’ll go for it.”
Paramount Liquor has built its reputation on a commitment to service and reliability, so looks for those characteristics in its own suppliers, Mark explains.
“We have a good relationship with Linde,” he adds. “They understand our business and provide us with refurbished forklifts capable of handling the workload we place on them. Given their reliability and quality in our circumstances, we consider that we get best possible value by purchasing refurbished equipment.”
Paramount Liquor purchases used Linde forklifts under 10 years old, and generally with around 6,000 to 8,000 hours on the hour meter. Often, the refurbishment process includes provision of a new battery.
The company’s 16,000sqm Melbourne warehouse runs a mixture of 30 Linde electric forklifts and reach trucks operating at high tempo in a wide-aisle environment, with racking up to nine metres high. A smaller Sydney warehouse also runs used Linde equipment. Refurbished Linde trucks stack up
“Our demands are very straightforward,” says Mike. “We look for good reliability and equipment that is easy to use. We are always busy, but we work around the clock four days per week. At those times, we use opportunity charging and we have never had a problem with our Linde trucks running out of charge.
“Over the years, we have looked at other forklift brands, but we’ve never had reason to change since switching to Linde. They suit our purposes. We keep each of them until they reach the point that they are no longer worth repairing.”
Mak adds that the company has a strong relation with Linde. “Whenever we need equipment I call Linde,” he says. “They’ve come to know our business, know what we want and have always been able to source it for us. When we have had need to call Linde technicians they have appeared promptly.”
Linde notes that it manages its relationship with Paramount Liquor not simply in an order-taking role, but by anticipating and understanding Paramount’s needs and by offering solutions that give the expanding wholesaler the power to choose Linde products that will suit it best.
3PL firm GEODIS has improved efficiency and accuracy for online women’s apparel retailer while addressing labour market concerns.
To address the record-low unemployment rate (~3%) and the strain on labour during peak seasons, GEODIS and a major online women’s apparel client partnered to pilot collaborative each-picking using 30 autonomous mobile robots from Locus Robotics in a 13,000 sqm warehouse in Indianapolis, USA. The location handles over 30,000 SKU and uses a manual picking process that is complex and leaves little margin for error.
The results have been staggering, the company says. Now, 80% of the units are picked to the robots daily. Employee productivity has doubled and there was at least 50% reduction in time to train new employees. GEODIS is now looking to expand the partnership with Locus Robotics in more warehouses with their retail and ecommerce customers.
“Our mission is to help our clients succeed by overcoming their logistical constraints and we are committed to innovative solutions for our customers to address industry-wide challenges,” said Marie-Christine Lombard, GEODIS chief executive officer. “The labour market is tight, especially during peak seasons, and we want to enable our team to better execute for our customers. And in this case, the technological support of robots effectively solved the challenge.”
The success of the pilot started with simplifying GEODIS employee training. Rather than spending hours in the classroom, team members were instructed on how to pick to the robots on the warehouse floor, completing the training within a matter of minutes. The messaging on the robots is displayed in their preferred languages allowing for faster absorption of training and a decrease in picking errors. Picking units to the robots also reduced physical demand by eliminating the need to pull pick carts and decreasing overall travel.
Aqualuma, expert in LED lighting solutions for commercial and marine applications, will exhibit at MEGATRANS2018 – a new trade show focusing on the national and international supply chain.
The business specialises in a range of LED products for the wider industrial sector, including for warehouses, cold stores and exterior applications to name a few.
NTP Forklifts Australia has officially launched its new facility in Huntingwood, New South Wales.
Customers, suppliers and equipment manufacturers attended the opening of the 14,590sqm site, which is almost double the size of NTP’s previous facility in Granville.
The site features a 7,900sqm under-cover warehouse, a 1,000m parts warehouse, eight-metre high racking and an indoor wash bay.
“A lot of hard work by our staff was required to ensure our new facility would cater to all out customers,” said Greg Sharp, General Manager – Sydney Branch, NTP Forklifts Australia. “The Open Day was a great opportunity for customers, suppliers and our equipment manufacturers to tour our new facility, view our extensive range of equipment and engage in product demonstrations.”
Damien Garvey, Managing Director, NTP Forklifts Australia, added: “We are very proud to officially open our new Sydney premise and to present our extensive range of world-leading material handling equipment to a larger audience.
“This investment demonstrates our company’s future commitment to our staff, the New South Wales market and more importantly to our growing customer base.”