The world of intralogistics has been revolutionised by digital transformation
Published on : Friday 04-08-2023
Subhasis Ghosh, Managing Partner, Apex Group.
The logistics and warehousing sector are greatly influenced by digital transformation. What are the factors driving this change?
It's amazing to witness the ongoing transformation of the logistics and warehousing industry, which is being driven by cutting-edge technology and innovation. By combining automation, connectivity, and data analytics, the way goods are stored, managed, and transported is being revolutionised. This presents an unparalleled opportunity for executives and leaders to steer their organisations towards success and advancement.
As the physical and digital worlds converge, now is the time to fully embrace this revolution by incorporating automation and technology in our supply chain and logistics infrastructure. By adopting cutting-edge technologies, collaborating across segments, and optimising operations through intelligent software platforms, we can unlock the full potential of our supply chains.
Imagine distribution centres with autonomous robots navigating through organised shelves, revolutionising order fulfilment and inventory management. Real-time data insights can drive decision-making, enabling precise demand forecasting, efficient route planning, and proactive risk management. A connected ecosystem with 5G connectivity can fuel the Internet of Things, empowering smart devices and sensors to increase efficiency and responsiveness.
Let us look at some change drivers, important technology trends and platforms that are impacting warehouse and distribution logistics.
The logistics and warehousing industry is undergoing a digital transformation due to the rise in e-commerce and changing preferences of consumers. The need for faster delivery and real-time updates on orders has grown, leading to a demand for efficient supply chain management. To meet this demand, companies are turning to technology solutions.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is one such solution being used in logistics and warehousing. It allows for real-time tracking of goods and vehicles, thus improving delivery accuracy and reducing delays. IoT sensors can also maintain the condition of perishable goods during transit.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is also gaining popularity in the industry. AI-powered systems can optimise warehouse layouts and inventory management, reducing costs and increasing efficiency. Predictive maintenance can also be performed with AI to detect and address potential problems before they become costly.
Big data analytics is another solution being used in logistics and warehousing. Companies can analyse large amounts of data to gain insights into customer preferences and trends, improving product offerings and increasing sales. It can also optimise supply chain management by identifying areas for improvement.
Cloud computing is increasingly being adopted in the industry. Companies can store and access data securely from anywhere, which is important for those with multiple locations or remote teams. It also allows for easy scalability during periods of high demand.
What are the technology trends that are revolutionising modern distribution and fulfillment centres?
While technology alone cannot solve all our problems, the current landscape of distribution and fulfillment centres is undergoing transformation with the implementation of cutting-edge technologies. These advancements primarily centre on the utilisation of automation, robots, and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and automated guided vehicles (AGVs). Additionally, warehouse management systems (WMS) are now being equipped with advanced AI and machine learning capabilities to enhance the management of inventory and order processing. The integration of data analytics and predictive modeling has enabled a more accurate demand forecasting and inventory management, leading to a reduction in lead times and operating costs. Overall, the integration of these technologies is revolutionising the way these centres function, resulting in a more agile and efficient operation.
How is robotics in general, AMRs/AGVs in particular, supporting these endeavors?
The logistics and warehousing industry has experienced a significant transformation due to the integration of robotics, particularly Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs). These intelligent machines are revolutionising warehouse operations by enabling seamless navigation within the facility, transporting goods from one location to another with minimal human intervention. This results in a significant reduction in operational costs and an increase in productivity. The beauty of these machines lies in their ability to handle repetitive and laborious tasks, thereby freeing up human workers to focus on other value-adding activities. Furthermore, the flexibility of these machines enables warehouses to quickly adapt to changing demands and layouts. The integration of IoT sensors and computer vision further enhances the efficiency, safety, and accuracy of warehouse operations. The result is a streamlined, cost-effective, and highly productive warehouse operation that delivers on customer satisfaction.
Digital transformation of Intralogistics is incomplete without corresponding change in Warehousing as well as Shipping & Distribution. How are these segments performing together?
The world of intralogistics has been revolutionised by digital transformation, with significant improvements in warehousing, shipping, and distribution. The integration of automation and technology has resulted in a more streamlined workflow, better inventory management, and faster order fulfillment. Warehousing facilities equipped with digital solutions have the capacity to handle a larger volume of orders, leading to heightened customer satisfaction. The implementation of real-time tracking and optimised routes has also had a positive impact on shipping and distribution, resulting in timely and cost-effective deliveries. These advancements have resulted in a more proactive and agile supply chain that can respond to the needs of customers with greater speed and efficiency.
What are the software platforms available that facilitate this transformation?
In the realm of digitising logistics and warehousing operations, there exists a plethora of software platforms that can aid in the process. Among these, Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) play a pivotal role by providing real-time information on inventory, order processing, and worker management. Transportation Management Systems (TMS) are also of great importance as they help to optimise routes, consolidate freight, and manage carriers. Furthermore, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems can be integrated into different supply chain functions, enabling data-driven decision-making. It is worth noting that cloud-based solutions are available to businesses of all sizes. To provide a more comprehensive overview, I have included a list of some well-known technology and automation companies that specialise in warehousing in my article.
How is 5G impacting the logistics and warehousing scenario given the importance of connectivity in IIoT based automation?
The logistics and warehousing industry is on the verge of another transformation due to the emergence of 5G technology. This technology is set to play a crucial role in enabling Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) based automation. With the high-speed and low-latency capabilities of 5G, real-time communication between devices and systems will be facilitated, leading to improved efficiency and responsiveness of automated processes. Through the effective utilisation of IoT sensors, autonomous vehicles, and smart devices, warehouse operations can optimise asset tracking, predictive maintenance, and overall productivity. The seamless connectivity of 5G will enable new possibilities in supply chain management, leading to enhanced customer satisfaction and productivity. With the integration of 5G technology, the logistics and warehousing industry can expect a significant improvement in the overall efficiency of their operations and a more seamless and streamlined customer experience.
The logistics and warehousing industry is currently experiencing a digital transformation fueled by the growth of e-commerce, data-driven decision-making, and the need for cost optimisation. With the emergence of innovative technologies such as automation, robotics, and advanced software platforms, distribution centers and intralogistics operations are undergoing a significant change. As leaders in this field, we must embrace these transformative trends and invest in technology adoption to remain competitive. By leveraging data analytics, AI, and emerging 5G connectivity, we can create agile and responsive supply chains that can adapt to the ever-changing needs of customers and the global market. Let's seize these opportunities and propel the logistics and warehousing sector towards a future of growth and innovation.
(The views expressed in interviews are personal, not necessarily of the organisations represented)
Subhasis Ghosh, Managing Partner, Apex Group, is a business leader who built and scaled businesses and then assisted startup founders and leaders in transition. He is a business oriented Leader, Independent Director and Angel Investor with vast experience in building, growing and investing in logistics and infrastructure businesses, with specialisation in Ports & Economic Zones; Supply Chain & Logistics Infrastructure; Petro-retail; Information Systems; and Aerospace & Defence.
With a natural ability to capitalise on new opportunities and forge collaboration with stakeholders across geographies in times of uncertainty, he helps businesses and initiatives achieve more through M&A and Advisory, Mentor startup Founders and Business Owners through Mastermind Workshops. Subhasis Ghosh is a Mentor of Change for Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), a NITI Aayog initiative and EU-India Innocenter programs. He is also serving as an Independent Director on the board of an SME listed on the National Stock Exchange.