Swisslog Australia & New Zealand Managing Director Francis Meier discusses these trends and the future of automation.
Fast-moving industries like retail, food and beverage, warehousing, and logistics have been driving the boom and rapid advancement of e-commerce and the digital marketplace.
Intralogistics, AI, Digitalisation and IoT are already thrusting industry forward in ways we never would have thought possible in years gone by.
“Just as the merging of digital, AI and remote monitoring are hallmarks of Industry 4.0 in industrial markets, these giant steps in automation will be commercial markets’ pathway to the future. Leaders in their field are already moving into these fields, and the benefits are beginning to filter through to new levels of industry,” said Mr Meier.
“As these future-focused technologies advance further, automation-driven industries need to ask how they can not only utilize these advances, but actively shape the new technology to deliver specific business advantages, and achieve long-term growth,” he said.
Turning big data into big opportunities
One of the key themes is big data, and how forward-thinking companies can better utilise this information to drive growth and company advancement.
“Big data refers to large and complex data sets being collected and stored continuously. Collection is one part of the equation – how we use it is the more challenging, and exciting part,” says Mr Meier.
“With the right tools, such as intelligent software, it is possible to transform big data into ‘smart data’.
This is where you can optimise processes, provide clarity on past, present and future operation figures, and be proactive rather than reactive to change.”
Companies to benefit from automation growth
The continued growth in automated solutions and intelligent use of data will significantly improve warehouse performance, and allow companies to flexibly adapt to change, says Mr Meier.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how quickly the world sometimes need to change, so flexibility is crucial. Flexible, robotic-driven automation solutions are already giving companies the responsiveness and adaptability to change, and we expect this to continue to improve further in years to come,” he said.
Other trends Mr Meier believes will play a big role in the future include:
- Virtual reality and augmented reality
- Artificial Intelligence and machine learning
- Urbanisation – which will drive warehouses and distribution centres closer to cities