Staying 5 minutes ahead – Samay Kohli

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By Samay Kohli, Co-Founder & CEO

May 5, 2020

Recently I spoke with Anthony Lacavera, serial entrepreneur, investor, and Founder & Chairman of Globalive, about the past and future of artificial intelligence and robotics. We focused on fulfillment – how far the industry has come and how far it still must go. Having omnichannel flexibility – being able to access all inventory to fulfill any order, whether in store or online – is a must. We’ve seen in the wake of COVID-19-driven store shutdowns, companies that could easily flex to online order fulfillment thrived, while those that couldn’t struggled.

From the time we conceived GreyOrange, the fundamental ability to flex automated fulfillment to meet real time conditions has been at the heart of our system design. We built GreyMatter (our AI-driven software that works hand in hand with our Ranger robots in our Fulfillment Operating System) to process millions of data points simultaneously to make decisions about how robots, people, and inventory can be best utilized at any point in time.

Modern fulfillment can’t be handcuffed to SOPs set in stone; commerce is too fluid for everything to be neatly pre-planned. Instead, companies need smart and flexible systems that can intelligently decide the next best action against the backdrop of what’s really happening at any point in time.

Earlier, we enabled GreyMatter to ingest and process millions of data points, while launching and analyzing thousands of decision scenarios simultaneously. We’re now training GreyMatter to learn even faster, so customers can be what we call “5 minutes ahead.”  In essence, we’re condensing the time it takes GreyMatter to observe what’s happening in the fulfillment center. By launching and analyzing scenarios of what might happen 5 minutes ahead, GreyMatter can detect patterns and predict what future interaction among people, robots, and inventory will generate the most valuable outcome.

While five minutes might sound small, in fulfillment it’s a long time.  A lot happens in 5 minutes and staying ahead of that is a true advantage.

Find out how your fulfillment can stay 5 minutes ahead

The Future of Sortation is Flexible!

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The Future of Sortation is Flexible!

Whilst eCommerce is making the life of consumers extremely convenient, the demand to deliver orders at a lightning pace has brought many challenges in the life of retailers and logistics providers. The rising unpredictability and complexities in shopping trends have impacted the entire supply chain in multiple ways. Retailers, 3PLs and logistic players now need more than traditional technology solutions that could support the highly dynamic logistics scenarios.

Today’s retail and logistics managers are expected to respond to any new kind of changes not only quickly but also in a cost-effective manner. Some challenges they face to do so include-

  • Rising customer expectation & unpredictable volume growth: Consumers nowadays expect and even enjoy options like same or next day, or even 4-hours express delivery. A rapid increase in eCommerce parcel volumes is allowing warehouse & logistics managers little time to anticipate, plan and adapt to the volume growth.
  • Volatile demand and seasonal peaks: The complexity is further amplifying in the supply chain due to multiple seasonal peaks and promotional volatility in parcel volumes. It is resulting in missed deliveries and dissatisfied consumers.
  • Changing sortation footprint: As retailers try to keep their logistics footprint tuned with the rapidly changing supply chain landscape, they will need to switch or expand locations more to continually optimize their network and meet other warehousing objectives.
  • Speed-to-market: While it’s economical to transport standard bulk orders across the globe, the cost of operation tends to shoot up to fulfill express online deliveries every day.

Sortation is considered as the heart of the order fulfillment process and shippers largely depend on their sorting systems to rapidly & accurately deliver goods. To address current as well as future challenges, these sortation systems should be well prepared so that they can:

  • Handle volatile peaks
  • Bring agility to relocate or redesign layouts using mobile, portable systems
  • Flexibly scale and adapt to changing external as well as internal environmental or business needs
  • Optimize supply chain mechanism to exploit market readiness strategy

Flexible automation is the future for sortation

Businesses in post & parcel, retailers and 3PLs react to the market challenges by employing scarce and expensive manpower or invest in elaborate fixed infrastructure-based sortation automation. However, traditional rigid automation fails to adapt to dynamic scenarios like increasing throughput, increasing sort locations, changing warehouse layouts, or shifting warehouse locations. Even after going through the rigors of a long drawn installation project, the peace of mind is not guaranteed with such systems.

Designed to work on today challenges and be ready for the future, players now respite in AI-powered flexible and scalable “mobile sortation robots” to address the demand peaks and unpredictable scenarios. Advanced technologies like robotics and AI are helping to strike a balance between customers’ delivery expectations and sustaining profitability.

The GreyOrange Flexo is one classic example in this category. It is a modular & mobile sortation system that can with minimal additional infrastructure can provide the fluidity and capability to scale, operate 24×7, reduce cost per shipment and meet evolving business needs. Flexo gives retail ecosystem the flexibility to buy a solution for tomorrow with today’s knowledge.

To know more about flexible sortation and how Flexo robots can solve the sortation problems of today and tomorrow, please feel free to write to us

Trends and technologies for the supply chain 2019

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Key Takeaways from PROMAT 2019

Last Month, Automate and ProMat 2019 got concluded and one could see the live show of the trends or technologies that will take supply chain to the next level of success. The 4-days long event, showed the best solutions and innovations in-action that industry has to offer and following is our observations from the discussions with engineers, suppliers, and analysts at Automate/ProMat.

1. Easy to use robots 

Designing robots that are easy to use and install are considered essential by the exhibitors and conference speakers. Notably, programming and integration have to become easier such that small as well as midsize enterprises can adopt more. This would help robotics spread beyond automotive and electronics manufacturing.

Emphasis on software that makes the overall system easy to integrate will help users to adopt more quickly and get robots working. And the intent is to make controlling both industrial and collaborative robots easier for the end user.

2. Mobile robots at your service

Automated guided vehicles (AGVs), Cobots and automated mobile robots (AMRs) were the best-represented types of robots at the Automate/ProMat 2019 with more than 50 mobile robot vendors exhibiting best of their systems at the show.

The need for greater flexibility in factories and warehouses is the primary driver for the growth in mobile robots. From autonomous forklifts and tote conveyors to heavy-lift platforms, mobile robots can enable users to work with existing, non-standardized facilities. They can also help avoid the costs of bolted-down infrastructure such as stationary conveyors, multi-layer racks, and positioning systems.

3. Application based Cobots or Robotic Arms

At Automate/ProMat, there was a much of an emphasis on the utility of cobot or robotic arms as a new model of applications. One could sense the shift from products to applications such as shelf-picking robotic arms, flexible/mobile sortation systems and many more on the same lines.

Looking ahead to the future of the automation industry

Industry 4.0 or the factory of the future might be coming, but many robotics developers at the event said that they’re watching technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G to see how they’ll affect their businesses. A tremendous amount of data is already being collected and it’s more a matter of delivering it to the right person at the right time than applying a lot of AI to it.

With this, we could say that the future of supply chain is flexible.

GreyOrange participated in this event and showcased their best in industry robots. For the full story read here.