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Automation of automation

The challenges in logistics and intralogistics could hardly be greater. Whereas 30 years ago the use of robots, AI and gripping technology was only a dream of the future, today the industry will soon no longer be able to do without them.
Rainer Schulz, Sysmat
March 14, 2023
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

Discover the latest trends

Although there are still enough "old" warehouse systems without any automation, their number is constantly shrinking: Only those who discover the latest trends for themselves and derive the greatest possible benefit from them remain competitive. When it comes to automation, there is still a lot to do. Because the next stage of development has long been waiting in the wings: Automation is already undergoing automation itself in some places.

Relieve workforce, increase productivity 

Logistics has a recruiting problem: Fewer and fewer skilled workers want to work in warehouses, plus an aging workforce and the lack of attractiveness of such jobs. Here, the use of automation and robotics can offer a way out. Monotonous, physically demanding tasks could be taken over by robotic systems, thus considerably relieving employees in their daily work. This would make these jobs more attractive again, and productivity could improve at the same time. Some jobs are simply done faster and more precisely by automated systems. The most common fields of application for robotics in intralogistics are picking and packing or goods receiving. At the top of the list of the most helpful logistics robots are AMRs (autonomous mobile robots). These vehicles transport goods or components automatically and thus make a major contribution to intralogistics.

In the warehouse of the future, AI-supported robots will act completely autonomously. Many engineering processes - i.e. how a robot is designed, programmed and safeguarded - can already be automated today. Manual code writing will soon be a thing of the past; self-learning robots will make their way into intralogistics in the future.

The Next Big Thing

This is what experts also call the automation of automation. In a sense, this development can be called "The Next Big Thing". There are already projects in which such systems are used, but the market is still far from being penetrated. The "hands" or gripping technology of these systems in particular are proving to be very cost-intensive and also not yet as resistant as desired.

But even if robotics eventually becomes the standard, humans will continue to play an extremely important role. Maintenance, programming and servicing of the machines are still in human hands. 

Address basic automation 

Apart from all the science-fiction looks into the future, those responsible should first take things one step at a time. There are certainly immense opportunities to be had from the combination of artificial intelligence, motor skills and humans. Companies should first start where great things can be achieved easily and with little effort: in software-supported automation. Before the course for robotics can even be set, the right conditions must first be created. Managing warehouses with the help of software is the first worthwhile step. It is best for companies to get an experienced partner on board - then they can also initiate the first automations during ongoing operations.

Rainer Schulz, Sysmat

Rainer Schulz is Managing Director at Sysmat, provider of vendor-independent material flow computers.

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