Together with robot specialists FPT, SSI Schaefer presented a standardized piece picking application that can be used for common picking tasks across many industries. Photo by Michael Mohr
Incipient era of Industry 4.0. starts influencing each and every part of the global supply chain. While some industries tend to adopt new alignments involving automation, digitalization, and transparency throughout their processes faster, others seem to stagger behind. Leading international corporations are typically eager to catch the launch of a completely new era while smaller and local players stay rather behind avoiding possible dead ends with remarkable financial consequences. However, everyone wants to keep his position in the market, no one plans to jeopardize his competitive ambitions. What does it take to remain on the top and prepare for the future? While visiting the LogiMAT fair in Stuttgart lately we have addressed this question and a few others in an exclusive interview with Michael Mohr, Executive Vice President Sales, at SSI Schaefer, the world’s leading provider of modular warehousing and logistics solutions.
Industry 4.0. is not a vision any more, it is reality. That sets clear requirements on the corresponding supply chain. How does contemporary logistics respond to the new situation? People have recently been addressing this topic quite often. At SSI Schaefer, we make sure that it is not all just pushing the buzzwords. Rather, we focus on linking technologies together in a meaningful way. Connecting machines in the system and to our WAMAS® Lighthouse Logistics cockpit involving professional maintenance teams in charge. However, this is the beginning only. Next step is to link the warehouse operations with the yard and perhaps we will go even further in this process in the nearest future.
How do you perceive future of automation; How far can it get ….? Many factors indicate quite clearly that the days to come will belong to Piece Picking; Technologies focusing on Piece Picking are marketed by many generic as well as well established manufacturers. Unfortunately, though, when not integrated in meaningful systems, Piece Picking robots become irrelevant buzzwords. They make a good deal of sense only when particularly needed for execution of specific processes in a wholistic system. And that currently is the case for instance of our pharmaceutical customers. That is where we are implementing our solutions involving Price Picking robots with other related technologies.
Don’t you think automation can limit creativeness of people working in logistics? Well, yes and no. Yes in a way that it implements standards into processes – particularly in warehousing and material handling. That certainly limits the space for human improvisation and creativity. No as far as we tackle the issue of strengthening personnel crisis; Automation releases labor mainly from routine operations while enabling the shift of released staff into more qualified jobs. This, by the way, helps overall less attractive industries retain their staff often drawn to more attractive ones.
Let’s talk about SSI Schaefer visions of the future in logistics … Technological companies like SSI Schaefer will still more and more be serving as partners to their customers. We must listen to them, make sure to deeply understand their processes and requirements. Doing so enables us to learn about their needs which is inevitable for an efficient analysis. Solutions to be implemented must built on standards verified by technological providers, yet precisely customized to the clients´ processes. And that is and for a long time has been a rule in SSI Schaefer; We do offer our own developed standard processes and solutions, and at the same time we can work effectively with functioning systems of other clients and integrate seamlessly with their existing processes and systems. That is the concept we want to stick with also in the future.
Which SSI Schaefer technology do you perceive as the most promising, having biggest potential? Our SSI Flexi Shuttle is a state-of-the-art technology and attracted great attention of the visitors at the LogiMAT Fair here in Stuttgart. Its ultimate aim is to optimize operations also in specific environments such as temperature-controlled warehouses. Also, attractive and well demanded is our Piece Picking application – a strongly customer driven solution. Furthermore we are planning an efficient and rapid solution for high bay warehouses: Our customer will receive a binding offer in as few as 14 days after the appointment, the delivery time will not exceed 12 months. Last but definitely not least – our software solutions: SSI Schaefer runs its stand-alone software suite employing 1,100 IT specialists worldwide. Our broad IT offering, including our own WAMAS®, WAMAS Enterprise and SAP products, delivers seamless support for all warehouse and material flow management processes. Our software products might well become the fastest growing segment of our portfolio.
The CEE market, similarly to the entire European market, recently experienced change in desire to invest in new technologies; Do you see further potential for continuous investment? Despite the fact that we are experiencing a slight cooling of global economy, the companies tend to continue planning an ongoing automation of their processes for one reason or another. Hence 2020 and 2021 seem to be quite promising as for continuing the process of further automation and digitization of logistics and entire supply chain.
What are the core markets for SSI Schaefer in the field of process automation? We perceive the biggest potential for our products and services to be in continental Europe. Hence Europe is our biggest priority, followed by the Nordics and the US.
It is good to know that there is always someone to turn to when it comes to adjusting own corporate processes and their alignment to those of others involved in broader supply chain. And the supply chain of the times to come is more than ever before about broad cooperation, process standardization, and vast data exchange.
Source: Reliant Group
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