Thursday 19th Sep 2019 - Logistics Manager Magazine

Witness the next generation of supply chain technology at IMHX 2019

IMHX 2019 is the UK’s largest logistics event, returning this month to the NEC from 24 – 27 September, where you can explore the developments in automation and robotics technology that are reshaping the way orders are picked, packed and dispatched across modern supply chains.

The message for the logistics industry, which historically has relied on an increased labour force to meet the needs of new client contracts, is that automation and robotics are coming and you ignore them at your peril.

Several factors are driving this trend and in recent years, of course, Brexit is one of them.

The combination of falling unemployment levels, minimum wage rises and a potentially reduced labour pool with less workers coming to Britain from the post-Brexit EU has changed the cost equation.

As a result, automation is stepping into the economic justification zone for more and more logistics operators who are juggling higher volumes, a growing demand for faster order fulfilment and greater value on the one hand, with rising staff costs on the other.

Yet it is not just the rising cost of human labour that is making automation a more attractive option.

Traditionally, automated handling technology has required a relatively high level of investment over an extended period before it secures a return. This has largely been at odds with the shifting client base of many third party logistics providers, but there are signs that this 3PL/client relationship is changing and becoming increasingly long-term.

The online shopping explosion – which has forced many 3PLs to completely rethink much of what they do – is also pushing forward the necessity of automation.

When ordering online, customers now demand a virtual audit trail of product whereabouts. This requires a constant flow of information that transcends the supply chain at every stage of the operation – and this can only be achieved through higher levels of automation and joined up services.

As automation’s advocates will readily agree, there are compelling arguments to be made for the use of some form of automation within most warehouse or logistics centre operations but before taking the plunge and deploying such technology, most companies require assurances that their investment will deliver a return.

In the past a fully automated system could involve significant capital expenditure and require extended periods to secure ROI. However, recent developments have made automation scalable and flexible and, as a result, pay-back times are cut significantly.

Continual developments in modularity, sophisticated control systems and performance will increase warehouse automation’s practicality and flexibility for a broader variety of applications – from fulfilling omni-channel retail to supplying line-side manufacturing. Automated, ‘goods to picker’ based installations will increasingly be integrated into intralogistics systems.

The growing role of artificial intelligence and technology within modern supply chain operations will be reflected at IMHX 2019: with over a third of exhibitors showcasing automation, robotics or autonomous vehicles, visitors to the show will be able to discover this transformative new technology for themselves and gain a greater understanding of how it can deliver critical operational benefits in the years to come.

REGISTER FOR YOUR FREE TICKET TO IMHX 2019
IMHX 2019 takes place this month from 24 – 27 September 2019 at the NEC. Time is running out to secure your free ticket – register now and collect your free badge upon arrival.