With the explosion of e-commerce boosted by the health crisis, connected warehouses are doing well. Their recipe: bet on the automation of all operations, from storage solutions to order preparation. A subject as hot as it is controversial.
Connected warehouses: the tempting promise of AI
The smart warehouse is a storage space that relies on digital and automation. Within it, the entire organization and logistics technique has been designed to reduce operating costs. A revolution that concerns the entire logistics chain: shelving and warehousing, packaging and packing, inventories, conveying, movement of pallet trucks and guidance of forklifts … In this regard, a warehouse is said to be intelligent when artificial intelligence algorithms make it possible. pilot. These aim to collect data in real time in order to have the right information in the right place at the right time. The data collected makes it possible to organize logistics, and in particular facilitates stock control. The digitization of warehouses thus helps companies to adapt to changes in the market. Among the new expectations of customers, express delivery in 48 or even 24 hours, a major challenge in terms of e-logistics.
Amazon, Ocado, Monoprix, … Always further with AI
The Covid-19 crisis and the rise of e-commerce in recent years have pushed some companies to become experts in automated logistics. By relying on cutting-edge solutions (Warehouse Management System, TMS Transport, Goods to Man system, etc.), they are recording real prowess in terms of the productivity of their supply chain. The Monoprix warehouse in the heart of the Fleury-Mérogis industrial zone is a perfect illustration of this innovative and intelligent warehouse concept. In action, robots which, guided by algorithms, move boxes from one place to another and manage the delivery to the order picker. What’s more, Ocado has developed ultra-advanced warehouse management technology capable of preparing fifty items in just six minutes. The British e-merchant has even created its own logistics operator activity around this solution. A winning bet with a stock market price reaching + 107% at the start of 2020. But it is impossible to discuss this subject without mentioning the unmistakable Amazon. Amazon Fresh’s ultra-digital warehouse-supermarket is currently shaking major food distributors. Smart trolleys to automatically follow customers’ shopping, express delivery without going through the cash register, automated monitoring to guarantee social distancing, … It is no surprise that the giant is distinguished by its insolent head start.
Automated warehouse, beware of danger?
It will be understood that the intelligent warehouse is the guarantee of maximized productivity. But at what cost ? The working conditions of employees at Amazon do not cease, rightly or wrongly, to make the headlines and it is indeed Artificial Intelligence that we are pointing the finger at! Productivity calls for productivity and its share of pressure… and twice as many serious injuries in Amazon’s AI warehouses than in its less futuristic warehouses. Yes, the digital warehouse makes it possible to optimize the entire process of storage of products to the preparation of orders, at the service of the ever more pressing consumer. But this same consumer thinks more about the impact of his purchase, especially the working conditions of employees. For its brand as well as for its employees, each company must ensure the positive impact of its logistics innovations. The implementation of innovative warehouses requires a subtle balance between efficient logistics, automation, ergonomics and employee safety.