April 3, 2017

Swisslog talks “Warehousing 4.0”

By DC Velocity Staff

With zooming robots, virtual reality glasses, and "smart data," Swisslog's booth at ProMat 2017 provides a glimpse into the future of warehousing. This is a future dependent on the industrial Internet of Things or "Industry 4.0," where automated equipment, robotics, people, and processes are increasingly connected.

Here are just a few of the cutting-edge technologies and concepts that Swisslog is highlighting at the show:

  • More robots, fewer conveyors. To succeed in the rapidly changing logistics and distribution world of today, you need to have a system that is flexible and can scale up or down quickly, says Tom Rentschler, head of marketing for the Americas for Swisslog's Warehouse & Distribution Solutions division. Traditional material handling systems that "bolt to the floor," like conveyors and sortation systems, do not provide that level of flexibility, he says. Robotics systems—like Swisslog's CarryPick, which can pick up and carry racks to the picker—allow for a more dynamic warehouse design that can be quickly changed as business conditions change.
  • From "big data" to "smart data." Swisslog's new software platform, SynQ, adds a business intelligence layer on top of the more traditional warehouse management system/warehouse execution system. This business intelligence layer will help customers use the data and information being produced by the automated systems to make better decisions. For example, the system's "Condition Monitoring" application can create maintenance alerts for automated systems and help managers figure out how to run them more efficiently.
  • Virtual and augmented reality. Swisslog was demonstrating the virtual reality glasses that it will soon be using with customers to give them an "up close and personal" view of what their automated storage and retrieval systems will look like. But inside the actual warehouse itself, there's even more potential for augmented reality, says Tim Eick, vice president of software and controls development for Swisslog's Warehouse & Distribution Solutions. Augmented reality involves glasses or goggles that would superimpose computer-generated images on the user's view of the real world. Eick says we are only a couple of years away from seeing implementations in the warehouse for such tasks as directing picking and maintenance.

For more information, visit Swisslog's website.

More coverage from ProMat 2017