Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Automation Can Help Logistics Prevent Spread of Disease by Reducing Staff Contact

The Robots Are Coming!
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – If there is one common denominator which has emerged from the coronavirus crisis, it is the need to retain a sensible distance from one's fellow citizens to avoid infection. Now many people who have resisted the advance of technology in the business of handling and delivering freight may be reconsidering the situation, and may perhaps be more accepting of moves made by such as that made by CEVA Logistics in their 'super site' at Truganina, near Melbourne.

There have always been those who have fought technological changes, whether it be the early 19th Century Luddites smashing looms or the 21st century, ageing shipping executive refusing to utilise the advantages offered by the internet, but this latest advance is an example which may now be more readily accepted post virus.

In order to provide a better service for one of its largest e-commerce clients in Australia, CEVA has invested in a goods-to-person Automated Mobile Robot (AMR) solution to improve throughput and picking rates. Using Geek+ robots from one of the world's leading providers of advanced robotics and AI technologies applied to logistics, CEVA has found a standard solution it says which could be scalable across group operations globally.

The AMR robot brings the shelf to the picker, rather than the usual reverse process, and the project took only three weeks to go live, including the installation of eight robots working across a trial 400 m2 of warehouse space. Each robot can pick shelves up to 500 kilogrammes and they are controlled by centralised control system. All staff pickers have undergone a two week training induction during the implementation phase. Milton Pimenta, CEVA Logistics’ Managing Director Australia and New Zealand says:

“With the scale of CEVA’s operation at the super-site we could immediately see this AMR solution was a very fast and efficient picking productivity and throughput option for us. AMR is the future for e-commerce operations, and we are excited to stay ahead of the competition in offering this kind of solution.”

CEVA worked on a co-investment basis with Cohesio Group, part of international technology group Körber, an integrator and developer of tech solutions that enable rapid optimisation of workflows and processes, during the pilot phase, and the companies worked together to create and then deliver a scalable customer centric solution. They will now continue the relationship to deliver AMR robot solutions to other warehouses across the CEVA global network.

Although the installation in Truganina is an internal advance with CEVA employees benefitting from a more controlled environment during the pandemic, Geek+ has made much of the fact that, with the support it can offer remotely to front line workers, more people are able to stay home and avoid potential infection.