Automation Drives the Next Generation of 3PL Fulfillment

As automation continues to advance, it also continues to make its way into many warehouses and
distribution centers around the globe. Automation Drives 3PL with automation to increase efficiency.


As the year moves along, many of the e-commerce dc’s will be fully recovered from the onslaught of
the holidays
. This is because the holidays can cause an influx of orders that are not normally seen.
When this happens, retail orders are known to jump as high as 20%.


An Evolution of Automation


In distribution centers across America, automation drives 3PL is not only seen among the conveyor systems.
Other innovative solutions also exist in the next-generation of supply chains. These include auto-
guided vehicles, pick/put-to-light, wearables, voice-directed technology, robotic applications, and
radio frequency identification scanning.


After radio frequency identification scanning showed up during World War II, it was only utilized as
a form of laser and telecommunications technology. It didn’t start making headway until the 21 st
century when the technology was seen as affordable and easy to use in handheld applications.
During the early 2000s advancement turned the technology into voice-activated systems, and hands-
free RFID technology.


Robotics, on the other hand, didn’t get introduced to manufacturing until 1961. This was when
Unimation brought it to General Motors as a new assembly robot.


Ever since the early days, the implementation of robotics has remained focused on manufacturing.
Today, however, many vision-guided robots have been introduced to distribution centers. Their
main task is to perform retrieval putaway functions, loading/unloading, goods-to-person application,
and pallet stacking. The advancement in robotics has grown so much that installations that use
robotics had grown by 11% in 2014. According to the International Federation of Robots, an annual
15% growth rate is expected to happen globally.


Over the last five years Amazon has been the leader in fulfillment by using robotic technology and
applications. By 2016, Amazon had increased their robotic applications by 16,000.


Leading the Way


So when it comes to warehouse automation who is leading the way? With it trending rapidly among
certain industries, it still lacks in the global market. As reported by the International Federation of
Robots, only 70% of global sales were achieved by robots in five countries. These countries
included:


United States
China
South Korea
Germany
Japan

According to omni-channel e-tailing growth rates, many fulfillment centers have begun to meet the
market demand for both next-day and same-day delivery, with high emphasis during the holiday
season.

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