As warehouses work to improve productivity, technological advancements are making an impact. This month, Material Handling Network spoke with two companies offering warehouse solutions that can boost operational productivity.
Amin Sikander is president and co-founder of Synkrato. The company offers a Unity-based VR platform allowing users to construct digital twins of warehouses, according to the business website.The AI-driven logistics through Synkrato digitizes warehouse layouts with “3D, first-person models and real-time data,” the site said.
Sikander has been working in logistics for over 25 years. “In the last couple of years, we started Synkrato,” he said, explaining that the company was born out of the need to help combat fixing “the same problems over and over.”
While technological solutions have been present in the industry for some time, in practice they sometimes function like “tech silos” within an operation, Sikander said. “It’s too complicated and too hard for clients. That’s why we wanted to start Synkrato, to bridge those gaps,” he said.
The incorporation of Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is a key part of the tailored Synkrato solutions. “Sometimes, some of the tech solutions are solutions in search of a problem,” said Sikander, who said Synkrato is not using AI as frequently outlined in headlines, like Chat GPT, but rather as applied AI. “One of the problems the pandemic highlighted is labor costs going up. More critically, labor availability is a problem. That’s not going to get better,” he said.
The second problem is the now-established expectation among consumers that orders will be fulfilled within one to two days, Sikander said. “These super hubs of distribution centers, that’s no longer workable. We’re going to need local, smaller warehouses,” he said. The number of warehouses has “exploded,” according to Sikander, who noted that in terms of productivity, one of the areas often in need of improvement is the routes employees traverse within the warehouse. “Half of labor costs is people walking up and down,” he said.
Synkrato’s programming can help users find optimal placement for products and aid in slotting strategies, all as information continually updates. “That’s why the AI engine is so critical. Our AI engine continuously optimizes the warehouse,” he said. “We’re seeing incredible results. You can do this with the data you have without installing expensive automation.” While automation can offer many benefits, Sikander stressed that it can’t be “the only answer.”
Synkrato’s “Digital Twin” offers a real time, accurate picture of the physical configuration of the warehouse, including inventory, according to Sikander, who said the business used the gaming platform Unity to build the tool. “It functions like a Google map of the warehouse,” he said, noting this includes “a crucial visual element” in operation management. “When people are looking at spreadsheets and forms it is hard to comprehend bottlenecks,” said Sikander, noting that users of Digital Twin can also work hands free.
Overall, Sikander projects increased use of both AI and automation in the next year. “Costs are coming down,” he said, describing how Google is working with drones in the warehouse. “Automation, drones, robotics. All of that is coming. It is past the hype cycle.” Sikander also foresees the increased use of no-cord platforms. “There’s going to be morphing from local platforms to modernized and composite apps that are plug and play,” he said.
At Generix Group North America, Ines Eberena is marketing director. The business, based in Montreal in North America and with offices around the world, is headquartered in Paris.
A focus in the company is its warehouse management solution, according to Eberena, who noted the diverse lineup of solutions offered by the company. “Ultimately, the idea is to make sure every external source of data is well connected,” she said.
Generix Group is a leading SaaS vendor specializing in “Collaborative Supply Chain solutions,” the business website said. The solutions “enable the seamless exchange of goods and data across the globe between suppliers and customers, all while responsibly managing their flows,” the site said.
Generix Group’s platform of “innovative digital services optimizing the management of physical flows, by coordinating the entire supply process, from production to delivery,” the site said. This is thanks to the company’s WMS, TMS, RMS and VMI solutions, as well as logical and financial flows, which integrates the systems of all players in the chain from order to payment, according to Generix Group.
Eberena agreed with Sikander that labor-related issues are currently challenging across the industry. And quickly meeting the expectations of consumers is no longer a theoretical goal, according to Eberena. “This is our reality. We know that every manufacturer needs to be able to produce quickly and efficiently,” she said.
In this objective, Generix Group’s solutions can help ensure companies keep up to date, Eberena said. The core warehouse management solution offered by Generix is typically installed over a six-to-eight-month process, according to Eberena.
“We are able to fit our prospective clients’ needs by adapting based on needs,” she said. As to the year ahead, Eberena stressed the importance of staying up to date on technology. “Anything involving robotization, automation, AI implementation will grow,” she said.
About the Author:
Eileen Mozinski Schmidt is a freelance writer and journalist based in the Greater Milwaukee area. She has written for print and online publications for the past 13 years. Email Networkeditorial@MHNetwork.com or visit eileenmozinskischmidt.wordpress.com to contact Eileen. If your company would like to be featured, email Networkeditorial@MHNetwork.com