An answer for every question. For the context of Industry 4.0, which requires process flexibility and product customization, the answer lies in logistics 4.0.
To put it in simple and more easily understandable words, logistics 4.0 means new systems for storing, handling and transporting goods, be they raw materials, semi-finished products or finished products.
Going into more detail, however, it is one supply chain management (the supply chain), which makes use of Industry 4.0 paradigms, exploiting and benefiting from technologies such as automation, augmented reality, cloud computing and analytics, to improve processes and performance.
Robotics, IoT and big data also at the service of warehouse logistics, ultimately.
The evolution of logistics
“Efficient planning, implementation and control of the storage flow of raw materials, semi-finished and finished products and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption, with the aim of satisfying customer needs”.
If we wanted to know what we are talking about when we bring up the concept of logistics, we would just need to follow what is stated above.
Logistics 4.0 is the natural evolution – or the natural one digital transformation – for a continuously evolving sector, thanks to the increasingly widespread diffusion of technologies that are revolutionizing every industrial sector.
The leap in quality, and therefore the changes brought about by logistics 4.0, can be traced back and identified into 3 main axes:
- Physical automation: which can in turn be complete but also hybrid or absent, in the case of processes carried out partially or totally by hand;
- Connection: on which the ability to collect and transmit data depends to allow modern handling systems to extrapolate useful information from the goods themselves, almost as if they could communicate.
- Decision process: that is, the ability of machines to increase their level of decision-making automation, without the need for external interventions but only thanks to the interpretation of the context. Thus, based on the processed data, machines can adapt their actions to specific cases.
Benefits of Logistics 4.0
After a bit of theory let's get into practice.
Productivity, traceability and costs. If you are a company, and if you want to know what benefits the choice to make a digital transition of your warehouse logistics can bring, you certainly want to hear about advantages.
First of all, greater productivity given by more efficient handling of raw materials. In fact, a flow with fewer interruptions can only do that increase productivity.
The great availability of the data collected by a system of this type can also help in keeping track of every element and every process. This is equivalent to one greater traceability, which also translates into increased safety.
Last but not least, the use of a centralized system for a company's logistics and transport activities, improving efficiency, allows for considerable cost reduction.
Among other things, a 4.0 logistics system for the control of industrial processes allows manufacturing companies to minimize the risk of lack of preventive planning, speed up transport and optimize the supply chain.
Furthermore, it also benefits sustainability of companies, which increases due to a lower environmental impact of the entire production process.
For companies that decide to invest in technological solutions for logistics 4.0, the list of benefits does not end here. In fact, the following are still missing: the increase in efficiency and flexibility; better visibility of goods; space saving; the reduction of human errors; full control of inventory and stocks.
Logistics 4.0 and warehouses
Optimizing the place where goods are stored and preserved allows speed of deliveries, higher level of service to the end customer and significant savings in terms of time and money.
This is the reason behind the large number of transformations that, over the last few years, have been conceived, designed and applied to warehouse logistics.
Setting foot in a warehouse 4.0 it will first be necessary to imagine self-driving carts capable of scanning and having a global vision of their areas of action. Thanks to a system of sensors for mutual detection between trolleys and shelves, the robotic machines that make up the automated line are able to recognize the spaces available to them and react accordingly.
From this perspective we can only talk about Cobots, collaborative robots capable of working alongside humans even in narrow or complex spaces, such as warehouses.
There collaborative robotics it is also the fulcrum of TOD System's technological research which, since 2019, has been studying customized robotic solutions capable of simplifying corporate or industrial processes while maximizing their results.
The fruit of this research is todrobot TR1, a mobile cobot - developed starting from the combination of the best products available on the market - capable of automating logistics and intralogistics processes, allowing agility and efficiency in logistics operations picking and placing, thanks to an innovative mechanical arm, an excellent load capacity (up to 250kg) and a small footprint.
Thanks to intelligent optical systems, todrobot TR 1 is able to detect the position of the targets and process the spatial coordinates, verifying the ability to reach these positions and providing spatial indications on the path to follow. We will present todrobot TR1 at Tecna 2022.
Inserting robots into the warehouse, however, does not mean replacing human capital, rather building a mixed system capable of optimizing production processes.
Warehouse automation software
Finally, in the organization of the different production phases, the use of WMS software for warehouse management.
These are systems capable of managing activities such as: receiving goods; mapping and storage; picking; shipping and internal handling.
Also in this TOD System provides smart WMS with dowry MRI kit (Intelligent Management System) capable of remotely coordinating the movement of the entire structure.