Even before Covid-19, online shopping was booming. The restrictions placed on all our lives as a result of the Coronavirus have only increased the trend towards e-commerce. Warehouses are therefore more reliant than ever on automation and robotics to meet the growing demand.

This article was first published in the January 15th 2021 issue of Warehouse & Logistics News, subscribe to the magazine by clicking here.

TGW is the key partner for the fully robotised fulfilment centre for Picnic in the Netherlands. A technology company that comes from the hardware of automation, TGW knows how to move goods within a warehouse efficiently. David Hibbett, CEO TGW Northern Europe, said: “The automation industry as well as companies such as Picnic face two challenges: The rate of change and the rate of growth. But the biggest challenge is the reskilling of individuals into our market, though. Automation requires brilliant engineers and IT experts. There is a high demand already.”

Allen Distribution, a third-party logistics company focused on grocery distribution, installed its first robotic warehouse automation solution provided by Prime Robotics. Prime Robotics’ solution was a goods-to-person case picking system, designed for building rainbow pallets from single SKU pallets. Unlike most third-party logistics companies who move to a picking area and return the single SKU pallet once picked, Prime Robotics developed and produced a pallet robot to retrieve, present for picking and return the single SKU pallet back to its storage location.

Robotics and automation specialists, RMGroup, has announced a unique partnership with Lachenmeier, a brand of the leading global transit-packaging provider, Signode. The move will see RMGroup become the preferred supplier of stretch hood machines in the UK. As part of the agreement, RMGroup will also be able to provide their UK customers with service and support for the stretch hood machines from their existing network of fully trained engineers.

North Coast Medical, a global market leader in the distribution and manufacturing of rehabilitation products, selected 6 River Systems to deploy autonomous robots to improve the picking process at its Phoenix distribution warehouse. The robots utilise artificial intelligence to guide warehouse workers on the most efficient picking paths, and enable them to fulfil more than one order at a time per location, reducing overall order assembly times and improving accuracy. Since the deployment, the outbound speed has increased by 100%, without loss of accuracy.

All predictions point to a continued increase in demand for automation in the distribution sector. With robots and other automated machines becoming more affordable, they will rise to the twin challenges of the labour shortage and the growth of e-commerce.

George Simpson

Features Editor

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