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The future of automated packing and robotization in e-DCs

December 19, 2016 7053 Views

Robot arm packingDuring the innovation update & networking session on 15 November 2016, Arthur Zondervan, Managing Consultant & Partner at Groenewout, gave a presentation about packing processes and robotization in e-DCs.

Packing processes in e-DCs

In the first part of his presentation Arthur discussed the following packing-related questions:

  • Which concepts are available and what are the expectations for the future?
  • Why can it be interesting to automate packing processes?
  • What are the challenges and prerequisites in the automation process?

A business case revealed that a return on investment can be achieved within just 2 years. In the future, it is expected that the shipment costs of a parcel will be determined based on the volumetric weight, and this is already the case in the USA and international air freight. This development will increase the urgency for – or the necessity of – automation.

Robots in e-DCs

The second part of the presentation covered the robotization of logistics processes within an e-DC. This included extensive consideration of automating the pick process and Arthur discussed the following questions:

  • What exactly is a robot?
  • Which pick concepts are available and what can we expect in the future?
  • What are the challenges facing pick&place robots?

At 5 years, the payback period for automation of the pick process is somewhat longer than for packing. As yet there is no fully integrated pick&place robot in any e-DC but it is just a matter of time until the first robot is implemented. Delft Robotics has already revealed a glimpse of the future by winning the Amazon Picking Challenge.


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