Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are revolutionizing the warehousing landscape internationally, setting new standards for expectations and deliverables. This exciting technology is already in limited use in South Africa, with companies reporting varying benefits. Andy Cooper of European Conveyors and Components, a material handling and technology specialist, will explore this topic at the upcoming Warehouse Automation hybrid conference, hosted by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport: South Africa, taking place on May 23 at The Garden Venue in North Riding, Johannesburg and online.
In the most recent global Warehouse Vision Study from digital technology company Zebra, published in 2022, 99 percent of warehouse operators expected to implement some form of AMRs in the next five years, though only 27% say they use AMRs in their warehouses today.
Cooper outlines just some of the benefits of incorporating AMRs into warehouses: increased efficiency; fast ROI (one to three years), fast implementation (AMRs can go live in three to four months); better storage space utilization (up to 30%), higher picking accuracy (up to 99.9 percent); and safer operations.
Contrary to popular belief, automation does not automatically replace people and therefore does not necessarily lead to job losses. “Many warehouse companies see AMRs make warehouse tasks less stressful because the operators’ work requires less walking, handling and picking,” says Cooper. “Indeed, warehouse workers report increased productivity and a reduction in the errors they make. AMRs have enabled them to progress into new roles and opportunities.”
Cooper, who recently traveled to several countries in Europe to explore this new technology, concludes: “Technology is a huge facilitator and problem solver.”
Racking inspection and safe racking
Storage and racking systems can pose potential hazards in a warehouse. Even a properly stationed pallet rack does not guarantee that the product will not fall off the shelves. Material Handling Equipment (MHE) is one of the most common causes of warehouse accidents. Leader Nkala, SHERQ Director at leading local shelving and shelving company Acrow, will share practical safety tools and tips at the CILTSA warehouse conference on this important topic.
Nkala will share the company’s 10 health and safety commandments, highlight the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) compliance requirements, and emphasize the importance of ongoing training.
The full conference program includes lectures on:
- Warehouse automation: the risks and benefits by Martin Bailey FCILT – Industrial Logistics Systems
- Robots in the warehouse by Andy Cooper – Managing Director: European Conveyors & Components
- How to optimize the digital transformation in the warehouse by Munya Husvu – CEO: ISB Optimus
- The current challenges we face in warehousing prevent automation and how to overcome it by Gerhard van Zyl – Group Operations Director: AsimoTech
- Safety and Technology in the logistics environment by Annah Ngxeketo – CEO: Mamoja Trading and Projects
- Safety awareness and inspection of warehouses by Leader Oil – SHERQ Director: Acrow
CILTSA’s conference is organized in conjunction with the Transport Forum. The sponsors of the event are Acrow, Fumani Holdings, ISB Optimus, Mamoja Trading and Projects, Toyota Material Handling, CFAO Equipment and Tendai Mhlanga Photography. Supporters of the event include CILTSA advocacy organization Women in Logistics and Transport: South Africa (WiLATSA), the African Women in Supply Chain Association and Sincpoint.
To register in person for this free to attend event, register at https://www.transportsig.com/component/dtregister/23-may-2023-737/register?Itemid=99999
To join online, click https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMlc–gqz4sEtdBC20H9ItPB_NGnjhIo92o