Thursday 21st Nov 2019 - Logistics Manager Magazine

Freddy the Robot and how intralogistics is changing our lives

I was on holiday last week. It was half-term, so I didn’t have much choice. But the family and I packed up to Edinburgh for some sightseeing… which included a trip to the Museum of Scotland.

Firstly, for those who haven’t treated themselves to a visit to this Museum then:

a) it’s free, b) it has a top-notch restaurant and… c) it’s utterly amazing and nowhere near as crowed as its peers in London.

Secondly, I bet you’re wondering what the heck this has got to do with logistics… well, it got me in the mood for our Robotics and Automation show which kick-starts in Coventry today. Why I hear you ask? Because it has a huge amount of floor space dedicated to past and present innovations in robotics.

Simply, who would not get a kick out of typing their name into a computer, then seeing a huge robot arm spell it out for you in consecutively picked cubes? I feel the appropriate response is how the heck does it do that, which I believe was the face every child in the room was pulling as it performed this fairly rudimentary task.

Furthermore, supported by the University of Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, you can see the whole history of how moving machinery has changed and continues to change our lives. There’s Freddy the Robot, from the dim and distant past of the 1970s, who was the world’s first thinking robot to combine a seeing eye and feeling hand.

Just watch the old geezer in action thanks to this video on the Museum website.

The exhibits also included the history of 3D printing, and while the Museum showcases such wonders as the way that manufacturing and engineering is changing our lives, with my skewed view of the world encompassing all things logistics and supply chain, I took it as the way that intralogistics in changing our lives.

Because while all of these exhibits have a place in a museum, especially for kids to stare in wonder at, they also have place on the inside of an everyday working warehouse. These types of technology are shaping markets, the ways we buy and trade goods and our experience of the economy as a whole.

It also makes me wonder, what on earth is coming next? What about 5G RFID and freight that talks to each other and automatically orders its own replenishment? Or a cell-based conveyor that can move parcels in any direction?

These are just a few things that have caught my eye in the past week when I’ve not even been working, before I even hit the floor of the Ricoh Arena in Coventry over the next few days! I look forward to seeing you there.