Where Do Robots Fit in Tomorrow’s Supply Chain?

Honeywell recently announced the opening of its new advanced technology center of excellence, Honeywell Robotics. Located in Pittsburgh, the new center is focused on innovating and developing artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision and advanced robotics for use across supply chains. In ramping up the new center for excellence, the vision is to provide fully integrated, fully functional, end-to-end robotic systems that are plug-and-play to customer process paths. The numbers clearly demonstrate a shift in consumer expectations, putting a heavy stress on traditional supply chain operations. Not only are online sales continuing to surge, the preference for same- or next-day delivery options, means organizations need to change. This is especially true considering that nearly 80 percent of distribution center operations are still performed manually, according to DHL’s Robotics in Logistics Study. With industry growth outpacing the labor pool by a rate of 6 to 1, this growth is creating significant opportunities to automate supply chains. The immediate goal for Honeywell Robotics is to help shape the warehouse and distribution center of the future, particularly as companies look to automated solutions, software and robotics to deliver increased speed, accuracy and throughput in complex material handling environments. While robotics has become commonplace in production environments, the warehouse environment has yet to experience an explosive adoption rate. Honeywell also is collaborating with AI researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center to develop breakthrough robotics technologies for distribution centers.