The man at the heart of the robotic warehouse

Expert opinion

Olivier Rochet, President and Founder of Scallog
Published on:
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The explosion of the Internet and mobility in the second half of the 2000s changed consumption expectations. In connection with the potential offered by the Internet, the consumer wants “everything, right away”: product information, choice and availability of the purchase. Pure Players (Amazon, Cdiscount, etc.) were the first to answer – to part of these expectations – thanks to (almost) unlimited product references available at any time of the day or night. This commerce revolution involves a logistics revolution in which “Goods to Man” has a major role to play: via warehouse automation, the product comes to the order picker and not the other way around. This inversion of relationships, which places humans at the heart of the logistics system, is poised to establish itself as a key factor of competitiveness for rapidly changing logistics.

It is in this context that the Scallog company comes into play. This young French company founded in 2013 already works with renowned clients in France and has strong ambitions at the international level. Its wish is to become a recognized player in its field and to democratize the automation of logistics warehouses on a global scale.

Robotization of warehouse logistics: the corollary of commerce transformation

Like many economic sectors, logistics is not immune to the trend to automate more and more tasks. The retail revolution requires the implementation of automation solutions to increase productivity. However, the degree of warehouse mechanization and robotization varies from one sector to another, and even from one activity to another within the same organization. And given the investment to be made, companies only embark on a complete automation project if the cost/benefit ratio (quality of service, productivity and competitiveness gains, agility to change) fully justifies it.

According to Cisma (Construction Infrastructure Steel and Material Handling Union), 70% of current warehouses in France are operated manually without automation, 20% are mechanized and only 10% of warehouses are automated. In B2B and B2C distribution warehouses, 50% of labour costs are due to picking tasks, in particular for the execution of order preparation (e.g. e-commerce), and 50% to 70% of this time is dedicated to travel.

The rate of automation remains low and is today mainly covered by ASRS (Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems) type systems: storage towers (mini load, shuttle), carousels and, more marginally, storage cubes.

Robotic systems such as “mobile robot/AGV/AMR” and “mobile cabinets” (Scallog) are emerging systems that are still little known but which are intended to accelerate the automation of order preparation, thanks to lower costs and greater scalability.

An example of robotization: the Scallog System solution

Robots are particularly suited to the constraints of e-commerce where it is necessary to be able to process a large number of small orders at the lowest cost.

A “Goods-To-Man” system based on mobile robots has the advantage of being an accessible, simple and flexible solution. Mobile systems associated with put-to-light preparation make it possible to optimize preparation time and reduce operator movements in the warehouse. The storage units (cabinets/racks/shelves/pallets) are in fact moved by robots which bring them to the preparation area. The operator continuously receives packages and can thus prepare several orders at the same time.

Startups have thus developed the principle of “mobile cabinets”. This is the case of Scallog with the objective of democratizing access to robots in logistics warehouses. With this new generation of robots, it becomes very simple to deploy an automated system in a structure, even if rented. Warehouses can be expanded or moved very easily, without having to touch the building and its environment...

As the system has no anchoring to the ground, it can be deployed in warehouses of any size with a very rapid ROI on average within 2 years. Boby robots can be deployed in one day. Guided by an optical reader, they will follow strips stuck to the ground and move around the area dedicated to them. The system can be moved very simply by re-gluing strips in the desired space.

The robot at the service of man

The fight against suffering and safety at work is not a new issue and will ultimately require a policy of intelligent robotization in warehouses. Thus, for rotating workstations, weights cannot exceed 15 kg for a woman and 25 kg for a man. 80% of sockets must be at shoulder height. It must also be considered that with the increase in retirement age, employees at the end of their careers can no longer carry out certain operations in so-called difficult positions, or easily travel 15 km per day in a warehouse. These legal and organizational constraints justify the design and implementation of robotic solutions serving humans. Scallog intervenes at this first level, without however calling employment into question. Operators remain at the heart of the control system but benefit from safer working conditions.

Goods to Man promotes humanist and non-humanoid robotization, that is to say robotization whose purpose lies beyond simple technological prowess. Far from being the slave of the machine, the employee finds himself freed from parasitic gestures. Robotization gives the order picker a more strategic role in the supply chain. Employees become direct partners of the end customer by controlling stocks from their ergonomic stations; they work with greater security and less risk of error. The upgrading of their profession is made possible by the fact that tasks with lower added value are carried out by robots. In addition, order pickers are freed from the obligation to walk 15km/day, leading to fatigue and musculoskeletal risks. In short, they are the first beneficiaries of Goods to Man. At the same time, the end consumer benefits from ever faster service, while knowing that their purchasing act is socially responsible.

Today it is high time to talk about robotization in a dispassionate and less anxiety-inducing way. No, the robot is not the systematic enemy of the worker. Yes, it is perhaps your best ally to improve your well-being and enhance your job!

By deploying a flexible, accessible and innovative offer based on Goods To Man, Scallog allows companies of all sizes to optimize the logistics of their order preparation and make it a competitive tool capable of supporting the revolution of business in progress with action beneficial to all stakeholders... Employees included!


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