Robots, Automation and the Supply Chain Evolution
It is a modern mantra: “Technology will never be as bad as it is today.” In other words, as transformative as automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies already are to supply chain matters, they can only get faster, smarter, more efficient and more cost-effective from here.
“In terms of speed of processing in the area of logistics, I’ve placed orders with the ‘big A’ that have arrived at my house the same day,” said Dean Elkins, senior director of advanced automation with automation and process integration company MHI member Gray Solutions and The Robotics Group (TRG) co-vice chair. “Aside from the luck that your ordered items are at the closest warehouse, all the rest of it is software-driven and automation-driven. Orders that I used to place and needed to wait a week or more for are now happening in two days or less.”
“The industry started with little islands of automation,” said Crystal Parrott, COO of MHI member Plus One Robotics—a parcel-handling robotics company—and the chair of MHI’s TRG. “Everyone was selling a piece of the equipment flow. ‘I have a pick place, I have autonomous mobile robots (AMR), I’ve got a drone.’ Now what I see it evolving to is the ability to use a variety of those for an entirely new warehouse process flow…