Why airports are investing in automation

Airports are the gateways to the world, serving millions of passengers every year. With the ever-increasing demand for air travel, airports are continually looking for ways to improve their operations and customer experience. One of the ways airports are achieving this is through automation. In this article, we will explore why airports are investing in automation and the benefits it offers. 

1. Improved Efficiency 

Automation helps to streamline airport operations, making them more efficient. By automating processes such as baggage handling, check-in, and security, airports can reduce wait times, decrease passenger congestion, and improve the overall customer experience. 

For example, automated baggage handling systems can sort and transport bags faster than manual methods, reducing the likelihood of delays or lost luggage. Similarly, self-check-in kiosks can help passengers to check-in quickly and easily, reducing the time spent in lines. 

2. Increased Safety 

Airports are high-risk environments, with numerous safety and security regulations to follow. Automation can help to ensure compliance with these regulations, improving safety for passengers and staff. 

For example, automated security screening systems use advanced technology to detect potential threats, such as weapons or explosives. This technology can scan passengers and luggage quickly and accurately, reducing the likelihood of false alarms or missed threats. 

3. Reduced Costs 

Automation can help to reduce costs for airports, improving their financial performance. By automating processes such as baggage handling and check-in, airports can reduce their staffing requirements, saving on labor costs. 

Similarly, automation can help to reduce the likelihood of errors or delays, reducing the need for costly overtime or rework. By optimizing operations, airports can also reduce their energy consumption and maintenance costs, further improving their financial performance. 

4. Improved Customer Experience 

Airports are always looking for ways to improve the customer experience, and automation can help to achieve this goal. By reducing wait times, improving safety, and providing better services, automation can help to create a more positive experience for passengers. 

For example, self-check-in kiosks can help passengers to avoid long lines, reducing stress and frustration. Automated baggage handling systems can also reduce the likelihood of lost luggage, improving the overall experience for passengers. 

5. Better Data Management 

Automation can help airports to collect and analyze data more effectively, improving their decision-making processes. By collecting data on passenger traffic, flight schedules, and other factors, airports can make more informed decisions on staffing, equipment, and facility management. 

For example, automated systems can track passenger traffic through the airport, providing valuable insights into peak travel times and areas of congestion. This information can help airports to allocate resources more effectively, reducing wait times and improving the overall customer experience. 

6. Increased Capacity 

Automation can help airports to increase their capacity, enabling them to serve more passengers and flights. By automating processes such as baggage handling and security, airports can process more passengers in less time, reducing the likelihood of delays or congestion. 

For example, automated baggage handling systems can process bags faster than manual methods, allowing airports to handle more flights and passengers. Similarly, automated security screening systems can process passengers more quickly, reducing wait times and enabling airports to serve more flights. 


In conclusion, airports are investing in automation to improve their operations, reduce costs, and provide a better experience for passengers. By streamlining processes, improving safety, and collecting better data, automation can help airports to optimize their operations and achieve their business goals. As air travel continues to grow, automation will play an increasingly important role in the success of airports around the world. 

How Automation is altering Indian Retail Landscape

With the tremendous growth of Retail and E-Commerce industries, multiple new formats like same day delivery, 30 minutes deliveries, and curbside pick-up, have led to customer retention like never before. Unorganised retail and a lot of the brick-and-mortar formats have been replaced by online stores for everyone’s day-to-day needs.

This sudden exponential growth of the Retail and E-Commerce industries is leading to a lot of supply chain challenges and forcing companies to think out of the box to meet these higher customer expectations. Some of the major challenges for the Retail and E-Commerce industries in managing their supply chain are:

1. Demand Fluctuation

The customer demand pattern has been continuously changing and the earlier approach of stocking a fixed amount of inventory does not seem to work. Automation can help retail companies to build smart and agile supply chains. For instance, Quadron can help retailers stock more inventory while also reducing the inventory turnaround time simultaneously in distribution centres.

Quadron, Addverb’s Carton Shuttle solution enables automated storage and retrieval of goods. By utilising maximum height, it maximises space utilisation by transferring crates/cartons/totes to multiple levels of the racking structure for more efficient storage of goods. To ensure a high turnaround time of critical SKUs (Stock Keeping Units), multiple Quadrons can be deployed in a facility which would ensure optimised storage as Quadrons can be leveraged on higher heights while enabling G2P (Goods to Person) picking and increasing productivity by up to 15 times.

2. Returns Handling

With online purchases being just a few clicks away, people tend to over purchase, and ultimately at least 30% of them get returned. One of the reasons for such high return rate is incorrect or delayed order fulfilment. With increase in returns, Returns Handling gains significant importance, the seamlessness of which also has an impact on customer retention. It is important for every Retail and E-Commerce company to optimise their returns handling process. Veloce – Addverb’s Multi-Carton Guided Robot, enables multi-level storage, and retrieval of cases and cartons without any additional storage infrastructure. A fleet of Veloce navigates through grid-based path to the pre-decided locations for storage and picking of carton loads and works in perfect synchronisation with each other. On receiving the instructions from Fleet Management System (FMS), it travels to the location and performs the pick and place operation.

3. Inventory Management

With fluctuating demands, returns handling, and supply chain disruptions, efficient management of inventory is an unavoidable feature for warehouses across industries. Warehouse Management System (WMS) helps in managing the entire warehouse activities from the time goods enter the warehouse till they exit. Optimus, Addverb’s WMS, provides complete visibility in real-time with advanced analytics, thereby helping in data driven decision making. It ensures that products meet quality requirements by automating the inspections and material handling processes for receiving, picking, storing, and dispatching. Optimus manages

the warehouse through a set of rules in terms of individual SKUs, productivity rates and storage capacity.

4. Order Fulfilment

For quick and efficient order fulfilment, optimised picking, packing and sorting operations keeps the warehouses running smoothly. Automating the entire order fulfilment process ensures better fulfilment rates with space and time optimisation, leaving no room for errors.

Storing and material handling can be optimised with Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems, with products like Quadron being the best solution for fixed automation, and Dynamo, Addverb’s Autonomous Mobile Robot being the best flexible solution. For picking, Pick by Vision, Pick by Voice and Pick to Light solutions are the optimal choice. Additionally, sortation robots like Zippy are the most flexible and scalable for sorting solutions.

Zesty, Addverb’s Pick by Voice solution is a voice directed Person-to-Goods order picking system which enables an operator who has a handset with headset and a wearable ring scanner to hear audio commands and perform the picking operation and subsequently confirm the actions back to Zesty through voice command. Zesty’s text to speech software is available in fourteen Indian regional languages along with English and Hindi.

Rapido, Addverb’s Pick to Light solution is a light directed picking technology that provides an accurate and efficient method of paperless picking and putting. Easily visible light modules located on the storage bin indicate the destination, and an alphanumeric display signals the quantity to be picked or put. Confirmation is provided by the picker by pressing the LED light. Rapido offers the highest picking rate for warehousing operations.

QuiMo, Addverb’s Pick by Vision solution is a vision picking solution that leverages augmented reality technology to deliver best performance and highest return on investment. It guides the operator through the warehouse, gives visual information, and reduces travel time through route optimisation. QuiMo has extensive benefits compared to light or voice directed solutions.

Zippy, Addverb’s guided, high-speed intelligent sorting robot works on the concept of obstacle detection enabled by bar code reading to perform SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) wise intelligent sortation at remarkably high speeds. Our fleet management system enables coordination among a fleet of robots that can perform over 20,000 sorts per hour, and drive SKUs/parcels towards destination chutes. Robots are customisable, depending on the throughput demand.

According to a report by Grand View Research, INC, the global retail automation market size is expected to reach 19.17 billion USD by 2025. Such innovative technologies are enabling retailers to meet the customers’ expectations and remain competitive in the market with increased throughputs and efficient warehouse operations.

Making the move towards smart distribution models

Conventionally FMCG companies have been supplying their products to retailers, through wholesalers or registered distributors. Distributors reach out to retailers and get their requirements as per consumer demands. The company would then ship the products to the distributor, who would then distribute the products to its retailers. This distribution model worked well for some, but not so well for others, as it was time-consuming and calculating the fluctuating demand without any data analytics would either result in goods expiring or shortages in the supply.

In this era of 2 days delivery through eCommerce giants like Amazon, it is imperative that retailers also shift towards a lean distribution model to have a stronger and more efficient supply chain. To build an efficient supply chain, companies are now moving their business from the linear FMCG value chain of yesteryears to an Intelligent Enterprise built on a connected ecosystem of Company, Customer, and Operations with Data, Tech, and Analytics at the Distribution Centre itself.

To make its supply chain future-ready, to brace its operations for the next decade, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), the leader in the FMCG industry in India took one tech-heavy decision to ensure that the retailers get a timely delivery, while cutting down the operational costs involved in the distributorship model. However, the challenge here was, their Distribution Centre (DC) handled only case orders, whereas retailers order in eaches/pieces, e.g., the distributor would order 5 boxes of shampoo bottles, while the retailer would order only 10 bottles.

In the distributor model, breaking the cases into eaches is done by distributor and with the new system, HUL now intended to do this at their own DC. So, they did a pilot project with Addverb at their 450,000 Sq. Ft. Samadhan Warehouse in Chennai.

The major challenges in the transformation were:

  • Inclusion of each picking in the DC

The DC should serve around 4,000-5,500 customer orders every day, which comes down to 18,000-25,000 cases, which in turn comprises 8,00,000 eaches. In addition, the system should sustain a demand surge of up to 11,00,000 eaches on a peak day.

  • Ensuring timely delivery to the customers

The orders need to be fulfilled overnight and dispatched with absolute accuracy.

To help HUL in this quest, Addverb designed and delivered an innovative automation solution for HUL’s Samadhan warehouse in Chennai, that comprised of Carton Shuttle (Quadron), Pick-to-Light (Rapido), Box-It (Ergonomically Designed Picking Workstation), and Warehouse Control System (Mobinity) to enable delivery of orders to 28,000 Kirana (Mom-and-Pop Grocery) stores in the Chennai metropolitan region, within 24 hours.

With Addverb’s automation solution, HUL was able to service its Kirana stores faster without any minimum order size requirement and also improved its service levels. With this solution, each picker could achieve a pick rate of 9,500 picks per hour, which is 10 times the productivity of conventional paper-based picking. The solution enabled optimised material handling operations through fast picking and packing, dynamic load balancing, order scheduling, and scheduling of finished goods as per the optimised route, thereby enabling HUL to reduce the overall turnaround time for order fulfilment. With this solution, Addverb and HUL have pioneered a new paradigm in the supply chain in India for the FMCG industry.

5 Areas Where Automation Can Benefit Ecommerce | Addverb

Much like the advent of the web revolution in the 1990s, in the twenty-first century E-Commerce has fundamentally altered the way goods are sold and delivered to customers across the globe. This change in paradigm from offline to online has forced supply chains to become more flexible and agile and has created highly complex problems being faced in warehouses and distributions centers. Eventually, all e-commerce companies have realised the final frontier will be conquered in the warehouses. E-commerce Inventory Management Automation strategy will prove to be a major game-changer in the way warehouses operate, as it helps in smooth operations, provides future scalability and accommodates flexibility. Companies that understand automation, shift early and navigate it with aplomb, will be the ones left standing when the dust settles. Advances in automation, robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning will transform the way fulfilment is carried on. Ecommerce is a goliath industry and hence its automation strategy is not only knowing when to automate but also where to automate and how much to automate. While answering these questions, it is important to look at the workflow to identify processes that are labour intensive and pick the sweet spots that will deliver the best value for investment. Automation – for automation’s sake is not the right approach. Let us look at some functions within an e-commerce business that can leapfrog efficiency with automation.

1. Inventory Management

Inventory management is closely tied to a company’s financials. In any e-commerce warehouse, correct control over inventory is crucial because of the large number of SKUs being handled. Accurate inventory will give you a birds-eye view of the amount of revenue potential from every single storage location. Also, with effective automated inventory tracking, you can ensure that at no point in time you are understocked or overstocked, thus reducing operational costs and ensuring higher efficiency.

2. Seasonal Demand & Sortation

E-commerce companies are prone to demand fluctuations based on seasonality as they cater to a wide range of products. E-commerce Automation solutions help them predict the demand patterns and also allows the warehousing operations to scale up and scale down almost immediately which is not possible in a manual system. Also, with mobile robots and sorting robots, the process of sorting the deliveries becomes much easier and cost-efficient.

3. Returns Handling

An important element that is a given in any ecommerce business is handling the returns. This calls for highly automated tracking, restocking, storing and retrieval activities all rolled into one. Efficient software solutions must be deployed for data integration across all sub-tasks that should ultimately result in enhanced customer experience and satisfaction.

4. Picking

One of the biggest benefits while using an e-commerce platform is that you can order 1 item or 100 items from a wide range of available products. This flexibility increases customer retention on one hand but makes the process of collecting these items in a warehouse, which is called Order Picking, highly complex. Automation offers tremendous productivity gains in order picking operations by eliminating the non-value added activities like walking and searching for items and increases the accuracy of picking operations through advanced software. Goods-To-Person Automated systems can provide a throughput of 1200 picks per hour, which is a 1000% increase over manual systems.

5. Scaling

One of the problems that ecommerce players often face is that the warehouse capacity becomes full by the time it becomes operational, such is the increase in demand that we are witnessing. Automation allows you to use the height of the warehouse with solutions like Pallet ASRS, Mini-Load systems and carton shuttle systems. This changes the paradigm by giving more space to expand in the same warehouse and any player can easily scale up in an existing warehouse by utilising the height rather than looking for new warehouses for different scale of operations.

Customers’ behaviour in response to technologies and faster embrace of new ways of engaging with ecommerce companies will profoundly influence companies to not just be price centric but also be velocity centric (How fast can you deliver). A winning strategy with the right mix of automation, which helps in reducing the operational cost and increasing product velocity should be able to firmly help e-commerce companies to deliver immense customer satisfaction and business value.

Pre-requisites to be considered before implementing carton shuttle solution

Do we need to consider some prerequisites while implementing an automated system like a carton shuttle?

In Goods to person systems like carton shuttle shelving, orders are store, picked, and retrieved in a hodgepodge before delivering to the customer. This system has contributed to increasing the overall throughput of picking, allowing the businesses to meet their customer demands through improved order accuracy. However, to successfully deploy these systems, a few critical calculations such as process throughput, space capacity, product profile, operating plan, etc along with the technical requirement such as mentioned below need to be done carefully.

An Analysis before implementation

A thorough analysis and inspection of the warehouse, understanding the current throughput and operation is required to be done before even proposing the carton shuttle solution. It also requires a detailed report on the existing process with the average time of order fulfillment and concluding how the implementation of carton shuttles can improve the productivity and hence remove process bottlenecks like delayed order or improper inventory control.

How to compare & calculate carton shuttles productivity?

The throughput calculation considers the current SKU pace, average units fulfilled per order, and provides the expected process accuracy to be achieved by deploying these automatic systems. Interestingly, these systems are capable of picking orders of say 300 picks per hour whereas the traditional manual order picking may bid for utmost 100 picks per hour per operator. Also, these systems provide the flexibility to increase the throughput by adding more of such systems into the fulfillment center which then conflicts with the operating space available. So, space capacity is another such scrutiny that needs to be addressed before implementing the system. To get higher throughputs, increasing the height of the aisles to the maximum permissible height,i.e, 100 feet can harm the overall accuracy of the order fulfillment.

Number of SKUs –

Especially industries like E-commerce, retail, spare parts division, fulfillment centers where there are large no. of SKUs are there & product profile contributes plays a major role in determining which products need to be handled by these systems. Because these systems have technological limits on the dimensions of products and their weight, hence they need to be considered while designing automated goods to person systems.

Aisle depth:

To increase the scalability in the future, aisle length of this system can be expanded to a staggering 100 meters, depending on the volume and required throughputs, however, a deep study has to be done on the load flexibility of the single- or multi-deep storage of containers, trays, and cartons of various sizes.

A few more points to consider before installation are:

We shouldn’t ignore the mundane yet important technical requirements such as

  • Installing tracks,
  • Limit switches,
  • Network interfaces and,
  • Integration with industry’s resource management software (WCS or even WMS) with utmost focus on safety examinations.
  • Laying tracks with aligned electrical Busbar and a steady power necessity of 230 VAC, 50Hz and single-phase constitutes the primary installation desideratum after setting up the aisles, and, besides, it also necessitates the positioning of barcode labels. These barcode tapes are used by carton shuttles for distance measurements, and if the placement of these barcodes is not coordinated, they may result in poor distance measurements and in turn, affects the positioning correction by the system.
  • Along with track installation, the system also needs safety forethoughts such as placement of limit switches and external caging with automated door locking mechanism, usually, a magnetic coil-based door locks for aisles containing shuttles.
  • Software Solution – while considering the integration of WMS solutions with carton shuttles demand installation of network APs across the critical network drop locations with access to the shuttle’s server. Finally, the installation prerequisites narrow down to one last step of configuring the shuttle’s network devices and tuning the drive parameters.

An advance and scalable carton shuttle system enable accelerated picking, order sequencing and order fulfillment, driving the storage efficiency through the ceiling. With Addverb, being the first largest manufactures of carton shuttle in India, we bring a diverse and wide industry exposure in implementing a carton shuttle system. To know more reach us at automate@addverb.in

ABC Analysis & Its Role in Inventory Optimization

ABC analysis in inventory management

To understand the different inventory control measures and their value addition to the businesses, its first essential to understand the scope of the word ‘Inventory’. Theoretically, inventory would be the finished goods that the company holds for sale to its customers in the future. Inventory Control, on the other hand, is the systematic control and regulation of the purchase, storage, and usage of materials to maintain an even flow of production and to avoid excessive investment in materials.  The literal meaning would be easy to grasp as compared to the small nuisances it sums up to be a part of. Hence inventory control has been given that much of prime importance as its manufacturing.

What is ABC analysis in inventory management?

How often have we come across articles/blogs/literature which elaborate the plight of an operations manager struggling to have a good model in place as far as inventory control procedure is concerned? How often have we seen businesses treading on a downward slope because the inventory control processes were not good enough to land them ahead of the curve as far as operating profits are concerned. It is no surprise that the decision-making authority as far as inventory control is concerned is of critical importance for a business to gain a competitive advantage.

ABC analysis of inventory (aka Pareto’s law) is one of the most important and widely used inventory control technique. The process involves breaking down the stock items into three major classes according to their cost usage, so the company can focus on items with preeminent cost value since they account for a compelling percentage of the abc inventory costs.

ABC Analysis in inventory management works by dividing items into 3 categories

Class A– items are goods with annual consumption value the highest i.e the top 80% of the annual consumption value of the company but account for only 20% of the total inventory items.

Class B-items are the interclass items with a medium consumption value; that 15 % of annual consumption value typically accounting for 30% of the total inventory items.

Class C-items are, on the contrary, items with the lowest consumption value; the lower 5% of the annual consumption value typically accounting for 50% of the total inventory items.

Classifying the abc inventory items aims to assist the inventory managers to focus more on class A items, as they keep the top-notch priority and calls for tight control. While class B has comparatively low priority, spans items with availability either low or out of stock, and veritably, they account for 20% of the total inventory cost. Class C items have the least priority, and it uses the simplest inventory control methods.

So, ABC inventory control requires segregating inventory items based on their relative importance, for instance, resource availability, fiscal value, lead time, manufacturing requirements, etc. Practitioners claim that ABC analysis can handle cyclic inventory effectively, for ‘A’ class inventory items, counted weekly for accurate monitoring of items, consecutively, has a greater impact on the inventory cost. Conversely, ‘B’ class items, having less impact on the inventory, perhaps counted monthly and ‘C’ class items counted once in three or six months as their consumption score is low with less impact on the inventory value.

How does the ABC technique help in warehouse management?

In a typical multi-warehouse, the nitty-gritty of controlling inventory increase the inventory cost if not controlled properly. ABC analysis cyclic counting has been an effective inventory counting technique across multi-warehouse where inventory managers assign the inventory into one of the three ABC analysis class.

Inventory Management –

ABC analysis of inventory management can be a smart strategy in the ASRS (Automated storage and retrieval system) for increasing the overall efficiency in the warehouse. For disorganized storage, the categorization strategy in ABC ensures the fastest access to the items in the highest demand, for instance, storing the items with high priority in the front section of the ASRS.

Resource Management-

The analysis approach can be a part of a computerized resource management software like WMS (Warehouse Management System), subjected to access real-time data of the inventory items. Additionally, the analysis establishes a smart order routing, a quick initiation into a smooth transfer of goods across the multi-warehouse.

Picking Technologies –

To select the right picking technology, this technique helps to identify and select among different picking technologies like Voice Picking technique ( Pick by Voice, Light – Directed Picking Technique ( Pick to Light ), Artificial Intelligence and vison based  Technique ( Pick by Vision ). To improve the travel time within the manually operated warehouse, where operators are picking by forklift or by hand, or in the automated warehouse that running automatically on conveyors, with cranes and robots handling different processes.

Supply Chain Management-

ABC analysis helps the various stakeholders of the supply chain in the following ways –

By this categorization, one can identify hot spots and separate them from the rest of the items, especially those that are numerous but not that profitable. Identification of inventory items that pose the biggest business risks due to theft or damage and pose the largest opportunities from sales is also possible from this analysis.

It helps warehouse managers and other supply chain professionals to prioritize their time.

It empowers warehouse managers to achieve close to 100% inventory accuracy.

Also, importance of ABC analysis can also be seen via help in making Smarter Purchasing and Inventory Control Decisions as well. Warehouse owners and supply chain managers have limited time and resources, so they must allocate their energy in the most efficient way possible. ABC analysis helps them identify the areas of their business that require the most attention in purchasing and inventory control.

Dark Warehousing: Spotlight of the day!!

Dark – the new light of the warehouse

Have you ever wondered what goes behind the screens once you place an order on your computer monitor in front of you? Before the order reaches you within a 24- or 48-hour window, what would have been its journey?

Well, if you would notice in the last 14-15 years of its onset, ecommerce industry has been a synonym for ‘explosive growth’ and there has been an exponential rise in terms of the no. of SKUs they handle, delivery times from being anywhere from 10 days to 24 hour delivery. Ecommerce has not only transformed how the businesses work but has forever changed the customer’s behaviour. The ‘want it now’ attitude of the customers is forcing businesses to upgrade their systems and processes to meet these expectations and are assorting to automation by introducing autonomous mobile robots, AGVs, driverless forklifts, palletizing robots, ASRS systems, automatic picking units through MPVs, cobots, mobile robots, sorter robots, tilt-tray sorters, robotic packaging & depackaging units, powerful softwares such as WMS, WES, MES, cloud solutions, a web of IoT solutions that provide visibility into everything inside the four walls of the warehouse, and to perfectly sync all the systems in real-time all the time.

If you could conceptualize one such warehouse, yes, you are right there & welcome to the wonderful world of ‘dark warehousing’!!!

So, what is it?

To define the nomenclature, a dark warehouse is a fully automated warehouse that operates without the use of human labor. Literally put off all the lights and let the warehouse function on its own. There is another definition also to it, which says warehouse that fully automated material handling systems – here the main reference is to the ASRS Systems, high speed sortation systems, mobile robots, and warehouse execution systems.

The ecommerce boom and the need for speed are the primary drivers for the dark warehousing concept as the completely automated systems increase the speed of operations by a manifold, ensure delivery of 100% accurate orders and improve overall safety aspects of the warehouse. One of the other key factors is the need for space, because the rising real estate rentals were directly taking a bite from the profit margin share & automation is the best way to improve space utilization and create additional space within the existing space, examples like dense racking through pallet shuttles or carton shuttles, crane based ASRS systems etc.

How do they work?

In case of dark warehouses, all the functions of warehousing i.e., inbound, storage, picking and outbound are completely automated & all these systems work in perfect sync with one another plus the other ancillary systems such as front end Order Management System, Vendor Management System, Truck Management System, Personnel management system..etc. Like all the inbound orders will be well planned and received through automatic telescopic conveyors which will supply the carton loads from different suppliers/vendors to the robotic palletization units where palletization of the similar SKUs is done. These pallets can be sent for storage through a fleet of driverless forklifts, where they deliver it to the automatic storage and retrieval systems. Once an order comes on these pallets, they will be fetched out of the system, sent for depalletizing robotic units and finally the cartons will be taken by the mobile robots either to the outbound order sequencing area with a carton shuttle ASRS or to the robotic decanting stations, where the items from the cartons will be poured onto the crates, which will again be stored in a carton shuttle ASRS system. Retrieval of these cartons will be done when the items need to be picked, which can be done through stationary robotic bin picking units. The packaging of these cartons/crates can be done through tunnel-based systems on the smart conveyors. After packing the orders will be sorted based on location codes or carrier type or any such criteria through a fleet of sorting robots & the sorted parcels will be loaded on to the trucks for dispatch again by the use of mobile robots. In the entire process if you observe there is a little or no human intervention.


These dark warehouses can function on a 24*7 basis, ensure zero human error, there will not be any shift charges and provide complete visibility of the entire operations and enable data driven decision making. However, these completely automated systems are quite expensive, and require a thoroughly defined automation strategy in place.  As a concept it has emerged in the European countries when some large organizations installed highly automated systems with some regular equipment like conveyors. With the kind of capital investments, it requires, it is still possible for large organizations, hence its adoption rate is not that high. Also, dark warehouses are also not as flexible in operation for picking, packing, and shipping- For handling a variety of SKUs, the systems need to be tuned accordingly, which is not that easy. So, dark warehouses have been more popular for industries where there are a smaller number of SKUs or uniformity of SKUs in terms of its size and shape.

Concluding thoughts:

Despite dark warehousing appears as the panacea to achieve the best KPIs of the industry, it has been quite elusive since a decade. Because in the ever-changing volatile business world, investment in 100% automation seems quite bold and companies have been apprehensive about it; maturity of the technology, staff skills, organized or unorganized nature of the business ..etc might have been a couple of other factors. Whether warehouses become completely dark or not might be a question for the future, but the increased use of automation in warehouses is a booster & is the right way to realize the efficiencies.


Micro Fulfilment Center: The Future of Retail

How do you think the consumers will shop in 2030? Today, there is a greater demand for transparency and increased personalization from grocery shopping. This helps consumers to make informed choices to support their dietary needs, values, occasional requirements and health goals. This rapid shift in consumer demand, combined with emerging technologies, will lead to a ‘supermarket of the future’ (Micro Fulfilment) with an immensely improved omni-channel experience and efficient operating model.

Automation is one of the crucial element of the Supermarket of future. It reduces costs and frees up staff so that they can focus on enhancing the shopping experience for the customers. Currently, the brick and mortar business provides customers with an experience of high-quality fresh produce, delicious food with an attractive gastro ambience and not to forget, satiating social interaction. Smart merchandising solutions will make the retail shopping space more attractive to the customers while exponentially eliminating wastage.

Innovation in the future supermarket will come with new opportunities for merchandising and impact on the 4Ps (price, product, place, and promotion). One way to achieve this is by offering an end-to-end eGrocery solutions, using hyper-local automation to lower the cost-to-serve in online fulfilment. Keeping consumers’ demand in focus for omnichannel grocery, a transition from defensive posture on eGrocery towards a profitable solution has become essential to minimise the losses of the currently inefficient eGrocery segment.

The primary challenges of eGrocery segment that the Micro fulfilment centre commits to solve are picking time and last-mile delivery. Conventionally, it takes about 60 minutes for picking an eGrocery order which makes the segment an unprofitable burden for many grocers. The micro-fulfilment centres cut picking time down to about six minutes. These micro-fulfilment centres can be installed in the existing setup of supermarkets, enabling a hyper-local option that eventually reduces the cost of last-mile delivery.

At Addverb, we are keen to contribute in this journey with you as a retailer by providing robotics and automation solutions in these mini-sized fulfilment centres to churn out order baskets for the e-grocery customer using minimal space and manpower. This contributes towards a transparent, visible and seamless fulfilment experience for the retailer as well as the customer. From in-store pick, dark stores, semi-automated fulfilment, micro fulfilment centres to full scale automated warehouses, the rush is on to figure out a way to lower grocery fulfilment cost. As usual, there is no single solution from which the problem can be approached in a correct way. Retailers will have to create flexibility in their solutions that will eventually meet customers’ demand and that too at profit. Some factors such as urban vs suburban, delivery vs pick-up, scheduled vs immediate can help to create this flexibility in the hands of retailers.

These are some of the nuances with which you would want your technology partners to look at the problem statement of micro fulfilment.

When it comes to any automation, ROI is a conversation worth probing. From a grocery perspective, the cost to build a supermarket today involves the cost of the land, building, infrastructure and workforce which contributes to around 60% of the cost of goods sold on year on year basis. On the other hand, it is estimated that the cost of building a micro fulfilment centre would cost less than half of that for the same amount of sales for the retailer. This makes the concept a lot more viable, thereby reducing the cost to serve considerably. Moreover, if planned with the right set of data with your MFC specialist, as a retailer, it is estimated that the inventory turn around will be 3 times more than a typical retail store making the required impact on ROI.

Today consumers are interested in the convenience that online grocery business creates and the market is responding positively towards that by migrating to fast service. Micro fulfilment Center provides retail operators to satiate that consumer requirement and that too efficiently, at a low and profitable cost.

While the pricing of online grocery is always the decision of retailer, the micro fulfilment centre is so cost-efficient that it allows retailers to sell products via an online medium to its customers without any additional fees.

Hence, some advantages of Micro fulfilment centre can be summarized as follows:

  • Reduced last-mile delivery costs: The cost of transporting and hence reduced delivery time due to migration of warehouse closer to the customer, decreasing the overhead costs.
  • Easy Deployment: The deployment time to implement micro fulfilment centres is a lot lesser due to pre-engineered approach for automation, making go-to-market strategy a lot faster.
  • Re-use of existing store footprints: It reduces the need to build new warehouses for your growing online sales channel and instead use the existing supply chain assets.

It is evident that the future of retail is here, and it is for us to embrace it!


The Rise of Automation in 3PL Industry

How you sell matters, what is your process matters but how your customers feel when they engage with you matters more. Selling is the most exciting part of a business. But what happens when a customer places an order? It has to reach the right person, at the right place and at the right time. And here come the 3rd party logistics providers in the picture to ease the above task. With the changing supply chain dynamics, the 3PL suppliers have geared up to become the catalyst in the chain to ensure accurate and timely order fulfilment.

To become the real catalyst in the process the industry has set to make moves towards advancing their operations through technical innovations such as automation and advanced software solutions. With the emerging ecommerce sector, 3PL industry has to undergo several operational shifts in order to meet the ever-surging demand. It is changing the shape of e-commerce product distribution by providing a range of flexible storage and distribution services to its customers.


An amalgamation of 3PL and automation

1) Pick-Pack-Ship:

A 3PL company is more than simply a partner in the value chain for a company. It organizes the whole process of order fulfilment and owns it end to it till the last-mile delivery. Vast item selections, omnichannel order fulfilment, same-day shipping options, and advanced order tracking have all become necessities to compete for business. And this is where automation becomes an inevitable choice for 3PL providers. Solutions such as automated picking technologies and automated storage & retrieval system act as a catalyst in the operation.

2) Brains in Motion:

3PL partners use intelligent software to process the entire order fulfilment in cohesion and coordination. Automation fulfils this requirement of 3PLs and boosts the efficiency at every stage, be it picking, kitting or assembly operation.

3) Store-in-the-Hump:

3PL companies facilitate inventory management and handling peak season demands. AI-powered solutions in 3rd party logistics inventory management allow for systematic storage and retrieval of warehouse material, streamlined inventory management, and facilitation of order fulfillment.

4) Space No bar:

With many 3PLs serving different customers, space optimization is essential when housing so many SKU varieties in a single warehouse. Automation in 3PL can augment warehouse height utilization, unlocking higher storage capacity thus delivering more value for the same floor space.

5) Returns are welcomed:

Returns handling accounts for almost 30% of the purchase price in an ecommerce business. The modular features of a robust software solution ensure effortless handling of returns via proper data integration across all systems thus enhancing supply chain & inventory management, with positive ripples spreading to deliver enhanced customer experience and satisfaction.

In recent years, the 3PL industry has expanded at an unprecedented rate with an increase in revenue of 21.6 percent between 2017-2019. This unrelenting growth is attributed to the aspirations of retailers to stay competitive and meet increasing consumer expectations for on-time and accurate deliveries. They are tapping 3PL providers to augment their order fulfilment capabilities. The global 3PL market is projected to reach over $1,100 Billion by 2024 as a wide range of industries turn to these providers to handle various levels of warehousing, order picking, packing, transportation, and shipping operations.

Some of the 3PL players still deter to adopt automation into their system. Unpredictability in ROI is one of the top reasons for keeping this contention. Also, there are uncertainties around the investment option in a rigid automation solution for a customer today that might not even be in the warehouse tomorrow. The new-age automation is breaking all these fallacies and emerging out as the unanimous choice for all the 3rd party logistics providers. Automated warehouses and distribution solutions have become flexible and scalable enough to deal with the dynamics of business in today’s era and ensure smooth material handling to achieve unmatched efficiency in the warehouse.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality, to change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete” and technology in building these new models every day for every industry!

Are cobots the next wave of warehouse automation?

Robots are being used in the space of automation since a decade back and have undergone several updates during this period.

Collaborative robots or Cobots, are currently facing its boom period leveraging its easy configuration and app-based controls. Invented in 1996, cobots have just started making impact on various industries across the globe. These robots unlock the way to automation for almost every size of business. It is renowned as one of the cost-effective automation solutions which will work alongside humans, enhancing their capacities and simultaneously building their skills.

What is inside?

Cobots have built in safety mechanism including power and force limiting technologies which make them safe to collaborate with human operators. Cobots are fashioned with inherent safety features like force feedback and collision detection. Hence, they are more precise, powerful and collaborative and take lesser time to deploy as compared to their conventional and bulky counterparts. For companies with seasonal demands, dynamic product lines or multiple process can opt for cobots which can also be moved between different tasks.

They are equipped with sensors, smart technologies and systems which are linked with IOT and specific systems. For the purpose of distance sensing, cobots are in-built with vision or radar sensors. This helps them to implement speed and separation monitoring. Non-ergonomic workstations can be greatly improved with the help of robots. Cobots are enabled with verbal command functions and incorporate voice interpretation.

Market speaks

As per BIS Research, by 2021, the collaborative-robot market is expected to grow to approximately $2 billion and 150,000 units. Several other industries are also looking towards cobots as a way of introducing the new automation future.

How do they add value?

Many businesses which are at their nascent stage of automation can see cobots as their tool to take their next step towards automation. One of the major benefits of cobots is its built with easy programming that allows even an inexperienced user to learn the process by simply moving the robotic arm to the desired waypoint and using a touchscreen to set the required actions. It involves a user-friendly software and mobile applications for the cobot to learn new actions on the go by leveraging the capabilities of artificial intelligence. By using a cobot, the programming can be performed on one unit and can be copied to others, making it quickly redeployable to different processes. This also include a much lesser cost than the traditional robots and generate a better ROI. As already mentioned, it provides safe collaboration to work alongside humans, providing the worker with an extra set of hands. Unlike cobots, the guarding and safety mechanism of traditional robots is bulky and expensive. Cobots are lightweight and easily movable to different places as well as different tasks. They are more consistent and accurate than humans and hence the errors are minimized in the operations.

Cobots play a big role in the development of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things. These days cobots area being used for various tasks such as pick and place, finishing tasks, Process Tasks (which requires a tool to interact with a workpiece), packaging and palletizing, quality inspection etc. Right now, we’re at a tipping point whereby there aren’t too many hurdles anymore to leverage this technology. We may count it as the day 0, when cobots will transform the trends in the automation sphere and will realize the implementations of Industry 4.0.