Tech helping to address the logistical challenge
Technology is changing the face of the logistics industry as it continues the search for ever more efficient and effective services. Doris Ucal, Panasonic Content Marketing Specialist and CXC Tour Guide, looks at the latest logistics technology solutions shaping this evolution.
The term logistics has long been in use. It’s said to date back to 1846 and is from the French logistique. It was popularised by military officer and writer Antoine-Henri Jomini, who defined it in his Summary of the Art of War (Précis de l'Art de la Guerre). Today, the industry has a much more practical description for its business purpose and calls it the 7 Rules of the Logistics: Getting the right product, in the right quantity, in the right condition, at the right place, at the right time, to the right customer, all at the right price!
With this plethora of challenges, no wonder the logistics’ solution area at the Panasonic Connect Europe Customer Experience Centre, in Munich, is packed full of integrated technologies to see. During a visit, you effectively get to follow the path of goods as they are received, processed and sent on their way - with technology solutions to optimise the process at every stage: from inbound to intralogistics and outbound.
Keeping both hands free
First on show is an ImageID inbound logistics demonstration from Zetes, Panasonic’s partnered specialist in supply chain and logistics solutions. ImageID can instantly read hundreds of barcodes simultaneously to verify all items loaded on a vehicle, a pallet, or arriving in a warehouse area. If an item is incorrect or missing, the tool immediately identifies the issue and alerts the operator. This unique tool provides customers with 100% accuracy in a fraction of the time. The data captured enables complete evidence-based traceability that is essential for compliance, which helps to also avoid things like costly shipping penalties.
Next on the tour is a camera barcode solution designed for inbound or outbound goods. Here customers can see why it might be more beneficial to have fixed cameras scanning parcels as they pass through on a conveyer belt instead of a handheld barcode scanner. In short, this solution allows for more flexibility, especially when working with heavier packages. Additionally, the barcode camera reduces the risk of accidents as staff have both hands free to manoeuvre heavy parcels. Lastly, by using this system at each checkpoint to read the barcode of the parcels, the customer can easily manage the traceability of the parcels in the warehouse or facility.
For sorting packages, Panasonic’s Visual Sort Assist (VSA) is a solution already in use by some of the most recognised manufacturers, such as Continental in the automotive industry. During a standard manual sorting process, staff pick up packages coming along the line, read the location on the label, and then manually sort the boxes. This process is not only time-consuming but is also prone to error. Instead VSA scans and reads the barcode on the package, then simultaneously projects instructions clearly onto the package for the sorting team. Staff no longer need to read the label; they simply move the parcel to the respective stack. This effective use of technology significantly speeds up the sorting process while minimising human errors. Continental reported that sorting times had been reduced by 80%.
Intelligence in the warehouse
Once packages have been sorted, the Intelligent Warehouse Solution (IWS) is an easy way to search for and track goods moving around the facility and in the warehouse. Thanks to the camera and software technology, it will track a package throughout its journey with regular photo images and know when and where a parcel went missing or was damaged. The IWS allows companies to reduce insurance costs and improve processes to reduce levels of lost or damaged parcels.
Paperless Smart Material solution
Next on the must-see viewing list is the Logiscend solution. It’s a full turnkey, highly visible, and truly paperless Smart Material solution for warehouses and supports picking and replenishment. It’s designed to improve transparency, accuracy and flexibility while reducing costs. It works by combining the power of visual or View Tags (active and passive RFID), along with software and hardware components to provide a complete tracking and dynamic material flow management solution— ensuring operations always get the right parts, to the right place, at the right time.
Hands-on rugged technology
Then it’s time to get hands-on with some of the most rugged mobile computing devices in the world, the range of Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices. You can see the rugged handheld TOUGHBOOK N1 used as part of a voice picking solution for the warehouse. It guides the warehouse worker around the facility with picking instructions and acknowledgments via a microphone and headset – improving productivity and reducing human error.
Devices like the TOUGHBOOK M1 tablet are also ideal companions for forklift operators. Easily mounted to the vehicle and simple to release and attach, these devices become essential tools for instructing forklift operators in real-time in a busy warehouse environment.
Other TOUGHBOOK devices, such as the G2 tablet, can be used with specialist applications for tasks such as automating volume measurement. Using the device camera and application, pallets and cages can be assessed in seconds and suggestions made for the most efficient loading and transport of the goods – saving time and maximising use of space to deliver valuable cost efficiencies.
And at the end of the tour, we can see some of the specialist transportation technologies offered by Panasonic. VIXELL is a cold storage transportation solution revolutionising the transportation of biopharmaceuticals and vaccines that require strict temperature controls. It is adaptable to various temperature zones from -75 °C to +25 °C and can be connected to IoT devices, which can monitor the internal conditions remotely – making it an efficient, reliable and sustainable solution for these industries.
When Jomini coined the phrase logistics for improving the supply of goods to the frontline, he could never have imagined how this challenge would evolve into a global industry and the range of technology solutions available today. Why not book a tour at the Panasonic Customer Experience Centre to explore these solutions first-hand?
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