Robotics in Logistics: Dawn of a New Era
Since the advent of e-commerce, getting goods to the customer’s door or stores from the factories or warehouses has become a mammoth task for logistics companies. Forecasts say that “worldwide warehousing and logistics robot unit shipments will increase to an estimated 620,000 units annually by 2021.” The solution for this herculean task of transporting goods far and wide thus becomes apparent: the dawn of robotics in logistics. The use of robotics in logistics offers far greater levels of uptime over manual labor, bolstering productivity in a vast array of professional environments.
Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart that have already deployed robots in their warehouses and fulfillment centers will only expand their deployments, especially in the wake of current situations. Leveraging robotics in logistics cuts around 70% of warehouse labor costs and helps businesses function day and night with minimal costs. Want to find out how? This post will help you understand the importance of utilizing warehouse robotics in the supply chain.
A Surge in Warehouse Robotics in Supply Chain
The first robot in the supply chain was capable of moving material about a dozen feet. For several years, robots were used only in industrial manufacturing because it was not safe for people to be around them. However, over the last few decades, innovative logistic robotic companies have worked hard to mesh AI and machine learning, better sensors and response capabilities, warehouse management software or logistics management software.
Recently, warehouse robotics in the supply chain has picked up pace exponentially. There has been huge funding and investment in the industry. For example, Alibaba invested $15 billion into robotic logistics infrastructure and Google invested $500 million into automated logistics for JD. It is also estimated that the global market for warehouse robotics in the supply chain is projected to reach a market value of $22.4 billion by the end of 2021.
Evidently, the dawn of robotic logistics is right here now!
What is Robotic Logistics?
The logistics industry is what is holding our modern world together. It includes a huge amount of different processes. Ordering, transportation, warehousing, picking, packing, delivery, inventory, and routing are just a few of those processes.
So, robotic logistics means the application of robotics to one or more of these processes. A few common robotic applications are robotic palletizing, robotic packaging, robotic picking commonly used in warehousing or any other logistics software solutions.
So, what kind of robots could be useful for your warehouse?
Warehouse Robotics in Supply Chain
1. Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR)
AMRs use sophisticated sensor technology to deliver inventory all over the warehouse. They do not require a set track between locations. They can understand and interpret their environment through the use of maps, computers, and onboard sensors.
These warehouse robots are small and nimble with the ability to identify the information on each package and sort it with impeccable accuracy. They cut down on the redundant manual process which is prone to human error.
2. Aerial Drones
Aerial drones aid in optimizing warehouse inventory processes. They can quickly scan locations for automated inventory. They can scan inventory much faster than a human can and send an accurate count immediately to your warehouse inventory management software.
These drones do not need markers or lasers to guide them. They don’t take up valuable space in your warehouse. They can travel quickly and assist in hard-to-reach areas.
3. Automated Guided Vehicles
Automated guided vehicles and carts (AGVs and AGCs) transport inventory around your warehouse following a track laid in your warehouse. These warehouse robots are perfect for larger warehouses because it reduces the time spent by workers just moving from one area to the next.
4. Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS and RS)
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems are robot-aided systems that can place or retrieve loads from set storage locations. AS and RS differ depending on the system needed, the type of task, or the goods that they will be working with. They can be programmed to work as a craft that moves and works on a well-defined path or a crane that retrieves goods between aisles. There are also aisle climbing robots that retrieve customer orders.
These free up the time of workers who can then concentrate on more complicated processes such as packing and posting the goods.
What is Driving the Need for Collaborative Robots in Logistics?
Although there has been a boom in logistic robotics, there are two specific factors that are driving the current need for collaborative robots in logistics.
- The growth of e-commerce: When products are directly shipped to customers, there is a huge variety of different packing requirements.
- The lack of available workforce: Shortage of skilled workers can affect logistics.
What are the Benefits of Adopting Robotic Logistics?
The logistics industry can see many tangible and clear benefits of adopting robotic logistics.
- By reducing human errors, robotic logistics can bring in significant profits and can also reduce warehouse costs.
- Robotics can allow for workforce adaptability.
- Robotic logistics improve safety for workers by taking over dangerous jobs such as getting items from high racks or storage spaces.
- Reduced human error and increased delivery speed brought about by robotic automation will increase customer satisfaction.
Read more: Open source robotics process automation
Enjoy the Freedom To Do More
Robots are being used rather extensively in logistics. Due to the complexity of supply chain processes robots will be increasingly used for dull, dirty, and dangerous tasks freeing your workers for more complex tasks. This means cost-effective, fast, and error-free operations. If you want this for your business, get in touch with us immediately and let us fix your business up with robot power.
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Today’s consumers are tech-savvy, demand consistency and know they can switch brands at any time. Therefore, Customer Experience (CX) is extremely important now more than ever. Customers aren’t just buying a product. They are looking to gain a good experience throughout the customer journey – before, during and after their purchase.
Imagine the pressure of not slipping up in any instance! If it wasn’t for AI and robotics, this could be a daunting affair. Thankfully though, the application of robotics and AI has streamlined the entire customer journey. As a CTO, leading the company towards this technological transformation is a great responsibility. This blog will take you through 4 ways in which robotics and AI can improve customer experience.
Hyperconnected customers of this digital age highly value personalization. This personalization is expected at all touch points and marketers are employing various strategies to achieve this. In the basic sense, this includes presenting personalized recommendations using algorithms and predictive analytics. Algorithms mine transaction data, browsing patterns and purchasing behaviors to gain customer insight. This information then enables to design personalized offers and create cross-sell opportunities.
Machine Learning is going one step further with AI-Augmented Contextual Analytics. Contextual Awareness is made available through machine learning and human curation. This awareness is implemented across the entire data and analytics workflow of the company. Thus, personalization is made possible throughout the operations and can be implemented at any touch point.
Sentiment Analysis is the next big thing that companies are implementing in order to improve customer experience. Voice, text and visual engagement can be analyzed by technologies to gauge sentiment and emotion. Voice biometrics over phone calls, parsing of facial expressions during video chats, and texts through chatbots can be used to understand emotion and intent. This insight helps companies measure and deliver customer satisfaction more effectively.
2. Improving Internal Processes
As we have discussed, customers expect a satisfactory experience in all touch points. This includes the way the company is run, the backend and the corporate image. Efficient processes and effective decision-making filters down to a profitable company and happy customers. AI and robotics can be used to achieve this.
Mark Robinson, co-founder of the world leading SaaS solution Kimble talks about how augmented intelligence helps businesses grow. “Using augmented intelligence to make suggestions to staff, and to record their response, means that humans and the machines can work together to come up with the best solutions,” he says. “There is less need to worry that people are going to miss important actions or take wrong decisions because of the visibility of what’s going on.”
It is believed that AI has the power to increase productivity by 40% or more by 2035. By automating processes and supporting innovation, AI can improve manufacturing and business processes. One example is smart product ordering systems, which use the power of AI to streamline order fulfillment. Our recent blog brought out the opportunities in this: “From ensuring that the product is personalized and available where the customer wants it, to streamlining the order shipment and delivery process, the customer experience is enhanced by the intelligent product ordering system.”
3. Effective Pricing
“What I ‘charge’ today has nothing to do with yesterday or tomorrow. It has to do with ‘now’!”
– David Wayne Wilson
This has profound significance today, where pricing drops or increases by the second. However great your marketing, your technology and other systems are, it all comes down to pricing. If a consumer gets the same benefits and quality at a lesser cost, he will opt for a cheaper option. Pricing is therefore a vital component in competitive advantage. This means that businesses must keep a close eye on competitors’ pricing behavior.
That is where Dynamic Pricing Science holds significance. With the power of Artificial Intelligence, cognitive algorithms, big data and machine learning, businesses can now effectively adjust their pricing strategies in real-time. Dynamic Pricing Science enables tailor-made pricing solutions to customers at the right time and consistent across channels. It helps understand buying patterns, identify effective correlations, compare competitor prices, match it across channels and create a customized offer – all in real time.
4. Improving Response Time
Response time is crucial in business. This is true in leads conversion as well as customer service. The importance of response time in lead conversion was brought out by Dave Elkington, the CEO and founder of InsideSales.com. Quoting a study he was involved in he says: “The study revealed that the odds of making contact with a new lead are extremely high if you call within the first 5 minutes of submission … a rep is 100x less likely to make contact if the first call is made 30 minutes after submission. The odds of making contact drop by 3000x if the first call is made 5 hours after lead submission.” Converting a lead into a customer is the first customer touch point and it is vital to get it right.
This is important in customer service as well. The State of Multichannel Customer Service report found that:
- 68% of people stop doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience.
- 34% of people feel that quick resolution of their problems was the most important feature of customer service.
- 61% of people on social media expect a response from a brand in less than 24 hours.
A bad response time could break a business as the numbers show. However, AI and machine learning have helped immensely in this regard. Chatbots are proving to be a great boon, especially when it comes to swift response on first-level queries. This ensures that there is an immediate response and minimizes time spent by personnel on repetitive queries. Agents can then handle deeper conversations and conversions with the assistance of AI.
China Merchants Bank is an excellent case study on the effectiveness of real-time chatbot interaction. Interactions through these bots had reached a record of 41 million by the end of 2015, with the chatbot handling 99.5% of the questions with an accuracy of 99.8%!
Power Your Customer Service With AI
As you can see, the power of AI and robotics in customer service cannot be overemphasized. Fingent works with clients across industries all over the globe. We would be happy to help you with any questions you might have. Drop us a message and let’s get this rolling.