Welcome to the February 1st edition of Warehouse & Logistics News. There’s a strong tech theme in this issue, with businesses seeking smart solutions to the challenges of being efficient and environmentally friendly and finding ways to reallocate staff to more value-adding activities.

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As e-commerce and online shopping continue to grow, automation is increasingly the answer to pushing the productivity envelope. In our Fork Trucks feature a new word has entered the materials handling vocabulary – robolution, AKA the ongoing drive to incorporate more robotics into these operations. In a major development Amazon has signed a deal with French forklift robotics firm Balyo, letting Amazon take a 29% stake in the company over the next seven years if it gives Balyo orders worth up to 300 million Euro over that time. Interestingly, Balyo doesn’t produce AGV hardware, but provides intelligence to standard-made trucks from various leading truck companies, who incorporate the technology in their machines.

There’s more e-commerce sector automation on our front page, with Neopost Shipping supplying a state-of-the-art automated packaging solution to outdoor pursuits online retailer, Internet Fusion Group. IFG supports various online sports retail brands, including Surfdome, Ride-Away and Fitness Footwear, from a shared warehouse. The first use of this technology in the UK, Neopost’s installation of two CVP-500 automated packaging machines has transformed IFG’s productivity by packing multiple items for a single order in the time it previously took to pack one item, enabling a single operator to pack up to 450 packages per hour.

In our Flooring feature Inotec UK has completed a large warehouse finishing project for a leading chilled and ambient food manufacturer at its warehouse and distribution site in Leicester. The solution includes installing 80 machine-readable overhead signs, highlighting the locations of the loading bays.

The pallet networks are powering up their communications too, both internally and with customers. In our Pallet Networks feature UPN’s “Unique IQ” Initiative, combining IT and service quality, has helped attract two new members, Westons Transport, and First Choice Transport, strengthening UPN’s network in the south of England. Also in the feature Fortec members are now offering their customers online track and trace and electronic Proof of Delivery.

There’s more tech talk in our news pages. Book publishing, one of the oldest business sectors, is very hi tech these days, with warehouse automation specialists Conveyor Networks recently completing a manual pack loop installation for HarperCollins’ Glasgow Depot.

And finally this month’s LogiMAT 2019 show in Stuttgart, from 19-21 February, promises a wealth of tech innovation, including Austrian intralogistics specialist TGW. In our news story TGW will be celebrating the world premiere of its zero-touch pocket sorter system “OmniPick,” which brings artificial intelligence and smart robotics to bear on the challenges of the growing ecommerce sector. If you’re going to LogiMAT, maybe we’ll see you there. Auf wiedersehen!

JAMES SURRIDGE

Publishing Editor

james@warehousenews.co.uk