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McKinsey: 10 technologies transforming warehouse operations

In April’s edition of Supply Chain Digital, we examined McKinsey’s report “Automation in logistics: Big opportunity, bigger uncertainty”.

In this article, we count down McKinsey’s 10 prominent technologies that could transform warehouse operations.

10 | Picking robot

This is a system with robotic arms that replicates a human picking motion. 

9 | Smart glasses

These are glasses that augment and assist reality of the users. Smart glasses help reduce the inefficiencies of searching.

8 | Swarm AGV robots

These are autonomous vehicles that operate freely and on digital tracks to bring items to a picking station based on instructions from the order-flow software.

7 | 3D printing

This process creates parts by adding layers of a material (usually metal or plastic) to develop a shape. 3D printing is also called additive manufacturing.

6 | Smart storage

This allows advanced analytics and digital tools to place and retrieve items in the most efficient way, adjusting storage media based on the product, picking and order characteristics. 

5 | Management system

Analytic and digital systems that merge analytics, performance reporting and forecasting tools to allow managers to easily control a full system, such as a warehouse.

4 | Conveyor connection

A connection between two disparate conveyor systems that utilises decision logic to influence item flow.

3 | Optical recognition

This is a sensor that scans items to apply sortation and other logistics. This includes a conveyer’s diverts, laser-guided vehicles and camera-based movement of drones.

2 | Analytics tool

Algorithms that enable operators to analyse performance, identify trends and make predictions that inform operating decisions, as well as using machine learning to improve over time.

1 | Multishuttle system

This is often used with an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) that transfers goods, usually on pallets, in three dimensions to store and retrieve items without human intervention.

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10 | Picking robot

This is a system with robotic arms that replicates a human picking motion. 

9 | Smart glasses

These are glasses that augment and assist reality of the users. Smart glasses help reduce the inefficiencies of searching.

8 | Swarm AGV robots

These are autonomous vehicles that operate freely and on digital tracks to bring items to a picking station based on instructions from the order-flow software.

7 | 3D printing

This process creates parts by adding layers of a material (usually metal or plastic) to develop a shape. 3D printing is also called additive manufacturing.

6 | Smart storage

This allows advanced analytics and digital tools to place and retrieve items in the most efficient way, adjusting storage media based on the product, picking and order characteristics. 

5 | Management system

Analytic and digital systems that merge analytics, performance reporting and forecasting tools to allow managers to easily control a full system, such as a warehouse.

4 | Conveyor connection

A connection between two disparate conveyor systems that utilises decision logic to influence item flow.

3 | Optical recognition

This is a sensor that scans items to apply sortation and other logistics. This includes a conveyer’s diverts, laser-guided vehicles and camera-based movement of drones.

2 | Analytics tool

Algorithms that enable operators to analyse performance, identify trends and make predictions that inform operating decisions, as well as using machine learning to improve over time.

1 | Multishuttle system

This is often used with an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) that transfers goods, usually on pallets, in three dimensions to store and retrieve items without human intervention.

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