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The Quantum of Logistics

1956 was a defining year in logistics. It completely redefined everything we knew about handling and moving goods. 68 years on, whilst Cobotics are starting to make waves, we still are suffering from the same fundamental issues that we were handling at macro level in 1956, only now its moved into a different area so lets call the containerisation period of 1956 to the mid sixties the “atomic level logistics”.

Most of us have seen the inside of a final mile delivery vehicle, half full and everything everywhere all at once. For some reason this reminds me of quantum physics because it collapses the minute we try to sort it out, which makes it impossible to understand and work with because at sub atomic level things happen very differently and we are not equipped to deal with it.

Consequently handling goods at “sub atomic level” is noisy, often exposing operatives to unnecessary risk, imposing huge inconvenience on the customers who are ill-equipped or prepared to deal with it and instead of being a pleasure it turns into a search and rescue operation! Sound familiar? Welcome to the quantum of logistics.

There are several methods of parcel handling in bulk but none of them work in last mile. Some companies have sufficient volumes to justify special packaging and delivery arrangements but when your prized order finishes up in the coal bunker, the doorstep or stolen or damaged the value that has been added to finally hand it to you evaporates instantaneously. For me that is where raw emotion and grief collides. Its like the scene in “cast away” when [Tom Hanks] Chuck Nolan finally delivers his salvaged parcel from the plane crash and delivers it to the recipient. She doesn’t seem to understand exactly what the parcel has been through in terms of human emotion and loss of life and “self” to be part of that moment in time. There was so much sacrificed unsaid pointlessness played out that something that meant so much to one individual, meant absolutely nothing to another who simply saw it as a ridiculously late delivery devoid of all meaning. But this is not the end, it’s the beginning of a mission that can sustain value to the point of intent with an enhanced and better managed experience.

A slip sheet is a system that literally allows a container to be loaded in under one minute. The golden rule in business is that if you have problem, fix it, don’t pass it down the line. So I drop a container off with you, it takes you all day to load it and I pick it up next day. That means I now need multiple containers and lorries to pull them all because you can’t load my container in 1 minute. In that second your carbon footprint darkens the earth like no other. Whereas the next door factory does have a slip sheet dock and the speed of turnaround allows me to double my traffic score and halve my carbon footprint because there is only one journey not two!

At subatomic logistical level the same thing can be achieved with Cobotics. A chess computer can make over 200 million calculations per second arriving at a final decision. 40 moves plays out the game so between two computers that is going to be a very quick game.

The next time a half empty chaotic final mile delivery vehicle turns up and leaves your parcel in the chicken coup or the hedge, you might like to think how the right people might have made this a better experience for everyone, because if you ask the right people about your logistical problems they will usually help you to come up with the correct solutions. We would love to show you some of our moves!

The delivery process starts the second your business takes possession of stock. You literally have more than 34 moves possible before it arrives with your customer. Many of those are administrative, but then there comes the action which affects the goods. This is where Ai makes a difference, automating the drudgery, organising space and improving the quality score throughout the business. Like the dockers once containerisation was introduced in the 1960s, handling moved away from quaysides and into factories and warehouses and became specialised zones to turn ships round in fractions of the time. The population in the 1950s was a fraction of what it is today, however our workforce is 50% up on 1950s figures which shows progress, especially computer and automation, is not destroying jobs it is creating them.

To access quantum logistics you need an understanding of process, and appreciation of Ai and the will reduce footprint size and fixed overheads and speed up productivity. The rest can be done by materials handling engineers who can bring these systems, training, organisational equipment and cobotic equipment in easy reach of your business to cut waste, time, improve safety and efficiency and undertake roles which can be done smarter, faster, more accurately and for less money than people. The end result is a significant uplift in the customer’s experience.

Securely using your mobile phone to allow Ai to know whether you are in or not and to communicate with you to schedule deliveries allows better use of driver time and cuts time wasting and chicken coup deliveries.

Organising your expedition processes to utilise simple cobotic packers to interact with machinery and marshalling stations means you can empty cheaper machines and free up people to do the jobs that require knowledge and reactive decisions which step outside core Ai abilities, but don’t worry history says you wont’ be out of a job, you can have a pay rise instead!

If you would like to know more about cobotics and how they can improve your business please contact us for an informal discussion.

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