Honeywell and top university solve distribution centres’ e-commerce woes

Supply chain and procurement professionals have their work cut out for them just by executing…...

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Supply chain and procurement professionals have their work cut out for them just by executing their core functions, like cost reduction, tail spend management, supply relationship management and other essential roles. However, the burgeoning success of e-commerce is creating a new pressure point – an explosion of demand placed on distribution centres. US tech giant Honeywell has just announced a new partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to address this very challenge by using advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics technologies.

Honeywell’s ‘Honeywell Intelligrated’ division, part of its Safety and Productivity Solutions wing, will be working alongside Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Centre. Together, they will try to ease the pressure on besieged and beleaguered distribution centres with advanced breakthrough technological solutions.

The explosion in e-commerce has made it increasingly problematic to simply staff supply chain operations fast enough – a problem for everyone involved in smooth supply relationship management. But according to Honeywell Intelligrated’s President, Pieter Krynauw, that problem can be solved by the development of new machine learning capabilities and applying them to crucial distribution centre applications.

He went on to explain that the combination of Honeywell’s expertise in logistics and industrial robotics and Carnegie Mellon’s research capabilities, along with its cutting-edge robotics expertise, will accelerate the tech giant’s ability to introduce machine learning and robotics technology to the market. In turn, that will provide the urgently needed new capacity and increased productivity for distribution centres as they undergo this digital transformation.

Distribution centres have latterly been struggling to fulfil orders swiftly and accurately enough to satisfy the demands of retailers and customers.

Recent research from eMarketer estimates that US e-commerce sales will surge by 16% in 2018 to break $562bn – a growth trajectory that’s set to continue to reach 12% of all retail sales by 2020.

The new Honeywell-Carnegie partnership aims to develop a new-gen architecture to control and operationalise a raft of robotic applications using machine-learning to enable critical decision-making abilities. It will also include collision avoidance capabilities and intelligent motion to function in dynamic, unpredictable environments.

Nick Ford

Nick has over 30 years procurement experience in consulting, outsourcing and line roles within industry with international experience across many sectors and industries and led many procurement programs with blue chip organisations.

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