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Robotics, artificial intelligence, and blockchain come together to support goods traffic and its management at industrial facilities.
The coronavirus crisis just highlighted the importance of in-warehouse management and online purchases delivered at home. However, behind the perfectly greased operations of an industrial facility or the efficiency that allows receiving a package at home in a couple of days, numerous technologies usually go unnoticed. Inventory management, goods receipt, and shipping, or their tracking until they reach our homes, known as “last mile” delivery, include an extremely complex range of operations where a single misstep can threaten the whole process. Fortunately, globalization and the exponential growth of goods traffic have witnessed the birth of a new generation of logistics management technologies: from robots that select materials at automotive factories or products at commercial warehouses to self-driving platforms that carry heavy materials back and forth. The present and, especially, the future of logistics are technology-driven.
All these innovative technologies, where ACCIONA is playing an active role, mean safer work environments, higher-quality manufacturing, and cost-efficient operations thanks to increased productivity.
Stage 1: Receipt of goods
-Robotic arms: execute the most repetitive tasks autonomously.
-Autonomous platforms: internal transport of materials by tracing the most efficient route.
Stage 2: Integral warehouse management
-Drones: control inventory and detect possible security problems.
-Sensors: to guarantee the health of operators.
-Exoskeletons: limit the physical overexertion of workers and allow the lifting of heavier loads.
Stage 3: Distribution of goods over long distances
-Data analysis: and GPS to optimize routes.
-IOT: product traceability.
-Blockchain: verification of process parts.
Stage 4: Last mile
-Order tracking and final customer satisfaction.
-AI: algorithms for task assignment and planning of delivery routes in real time.
Especially in heavy and automotive industries, moving manufacturing materials from one place to another is a critical and essential process. Over the last few years, self-driving mobile platforms have become increasingly helpful tools. Thanks to their sensors and onboard cameras, these robotic systems have collision detection capabilities and can find the optimal transport route. GPS and data analytics systems carry out route optimization.
Another technology in the processing of an order received at a facility is the use of collaborative robotic arms that pick out components. While still in an experimental stage, they will prove a valuable help for workers, freeing them from tedious and repetitive tasks.
Finally, drones are another autonomous system with an increased presence at warehouses. They are used for tracking stock, inventory management, and surveillance in the facilities and difficult access areas.
Regarding workers, exoskeletons are one of the systems on the rise. Some of them are passive, i.e., they just redistribute weights throughout the body or release them as energy to the ground. There are, however, more advanced active exoskeletons that feature sensors and actuators that can reduce the actual lifted weight. Some of these exoskeletons allow lifting up to 200 pounds effortlessly. Nevertheless, any physical activity still has risks of its own. Thus, sensors that detect vital signs are one of the features that are being implemented. These systems alert to any anomalies. Featuring GPS location, they are known as “dead man systems.”
Blockchain is a game-changer in logistics. Based on unique digitally signed blocks, they are the ideal tool to know the distribution stage of any given product. Thus, when a component or product enter or leave a warehouse or production facility, the system can track their location and distribution phase.
As compared to the traditional system, these innovations provide enormous advantages for industrial clients as well as ACCIONA’s workers. As a pioneering and innovating company, it has implemented all these advances to improve the efficiency of intralogistics operations.