In conversation with Abhishek Prakash, Chief of Logistic Systems, Beumer INDIA Pvt. ltd.

“The one thing that the fastest growing customers have in common is that they are the ones who have embraced e-commerce as more than just a trend. They are the businesses that have looked at aligning the whole business around an omnichannel approach, to fulfil all types of sales, with home delivery and click-and-collect options alongside traditional retail stores..”

What are your best-known solutions/products/services?

“We’re best known for integrating our multiple automated systems into bespoke end-to-end solutions. This means our customers get the benefit of our ability to integrate advanced automated conveying, storage and retrieval, sorting, picking, packing and shipping technologies, all linked and working in synergy. Multi-function solutions like this typically have capacity of up to 40,000 items per hour, so seamless workflow is key to achieving optimisation. Another way we ensure smooth, optimised workflow is that each segment of the process can be controlled by BEUMER Group’s BG Flow warehouse control system (WCS). This gives a clear overview of every section and item within the system, provides centralised control, and importantly, it automatically calculates the optimum routing for each item. Because integration is such a cornerstone for us, we also ensure that the BG Flow can be linked with further products and systems that might be developed in the future. We recently worked closely with Indian company, Future Supply Chain, with the integrating of systems in their new warehouse (High Speed Cross Belt Sorter system – Mihan, Nagpur – YouTube), and we are also developing a similar project with one of India’s biggest e-commerce companies at present.”

Which industry sectors are your customers in, and which ones are growing fastest?

“Our warehouse and logistics customers are largely retailers in sectors such as fashion, consumer electronics, FMCG, lifestyle products and now even grocery which is an area that – for a long time – people thought could not be automated to higher efficiency. The one thing that the fastest growing customers have in common is that they are the ones who have embraced e-commerce as more than just a trend. They are the businesses that have looked at aligning the whole business around an omnichannel approach, to fulfil all types of sales, with home delivery and click-and-collect options alongside traditional retail stores.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major catalyst in the development of e-commerce offerings. We have seen huge transformation in online retailing in recent years, and the demands of the pandemic have pushed that even further. In terms of innovation, it’s a very exciting time for the industry.”

What are your most recent product innovations?

“Our Warehouse Control System (WCS) is our way of building innovation into every solution, enabling as-yet unknown tech to be integrated in future. From the start we do not just adapt the extant customer processes to fit the WCS but we adapt the WCS to fit the customer’s requirements. We can integrate automated solutions from other suppliers, whilst adding the flexibility to handle future demand for system growth and change. This factors in the rapid growth of warehouse automation, and unleashes greater potential for optimising as many processes a possible. Robotic technology is a great example. In warehousing, robotics tech is still in its infancy but the scope for its deployment is seemingly limitless, so for BEUMER Group it is very important that future examples of this new technology will work with our systems. We have been developing our automated sortation processes for some time, but we are now seeing robotics used in container tipping to pick-and place units working to singulate inbound bulk items. We are also developing robot inductions to handle bulk items from roll cages and trucks. This gives benefits such as exact alignment and spacing on the conveyor, smoothing flow and eliminating manual handling.”

This factors in the rapid growth of warehouse automation, and unleashes greater potential for optimising as many processes aspossible. Robotic technology is a great example. In warehousing, robotics tech is still in its infancy but the scope for its deployment is seemingly limitless, so for BEUMER Group it is very important that future examples of this new technology will work with our systems. We have been developing our automated sortation processes for some time, but we are now seeing robotics used in container tipping to pick-and place units working to singulate inbound bulk items. We are also developing robot inductions to handle bulk items from roll cages and trucks. This gives benefits such as exact alignment and spacing on the conveyor, smoothing flow and eliminating manual handling.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major catalyst in the development of e-commerce offerings. We have seen huge transformation in online retailing in recent years, and the demands of the pandemic have pushed that even further. In terms of innovation, it’s a very exciting time for the industry..”

What are the major trends and developments affecting your category and your customers, and how are you responding?

As we said earlier in this regard. “Next-day delivery used to be an impressive promise, but customers now expect it as a minimum. Service levels are a major priority for retailers, with many aiming not just to react fast but to actually anticipate sales with “demand sensing” via machine learning technology embedded in social media for example. Harnessing the sales potential of e-commerce also means huge spikes in sales volumes are to be expected. Because of this, retailers no require unprecedented levels of speed, flexibility, and accuracy which makes automation a necessity. Larger scale intralogistics operations can reap great benefits from Automated Storage and Retrieval (ASRS) and high speed multi shuttles in the storage and picking function, and loop and pouch systems for sortation. These will automate core processes while simultaneously sorting multiple flow routes from in-feed through to despatch. However, automation is not a panacea, it won’t fix everything by itself. It is important to take a holistic approach, and invest in the people who form the operational logistics team. It is also imperative to take into account the individual characteristics of the business, so that the selection of automation is optimal. What kinds of goods are being handled? Is there a mix? What fulfilment methods will be used? How much can volumes fluctuate? How much warehousing space is available? How much growth consider.” can we predict? These are all questions that BEUMER Group consider.”

What’s your strategy for succeeding in the current climate?

“Our strategy has been to focus on integration; not just linking a wide range of products together, but to integrate the resulting physical system into the overarching IT which provides a robust base for future development and growth. We customise our solutions for each customer to reflect their unique requirements.”

Can you tell us about any of recent customer contracts and how you helped the customer meet their challenges?

“The Indian third-party supply chain and logistics company, Future Supply Chain took on BEUMER Group to deploy our WCS to support its state-of-the-art warehouse operation in order to optimise its end-to-end logistics business. warehouse and distribution operators to grow with the market.”The BG Flow WCS links the existing warehouse management system with all the automated equipment working in the warehouse. The WCS then smooths inbound and outbound flows, picking, packing, labelling and even shipping. In this way, smarter routing can optimise the entire system. We also worked on a similarly high-end project for the Polish automotive parts and components supplier Inter Cars at its European Logistics Centre, near Warsaw. This incorporated a pick-by-light system to optimise its inventory of some 7 million items. We have supported NIKE’s China Logistics Centre since designing and implementing their system in 2012, which helps NIKE to drive continuous growth and sustainability in their distribution centre.”

“Our strategy has been to focus on integration; not just linking a wide range of products together, but to integrate the resulting physical system into the overarching IT which provides a robust base for future development and growth. We customise our solutions for each customer to reflect their unique requirements..”

What’s the latest news from your company?

“BEUMER Group is launching some new automation technology in 2021, and developing new products to answer the requirements of our customers, particularly in e-commerce.”

Can you tell us about any areas where you’re currently making technical advances?

“We believe the future of software architecture is to provide a robust framework for future integration, to keep systems operationally relevant. We continue to invest in a flexible and dynamic IT structure which enables integration with diverse and future interfaces.”

Could you please share your views on the Warehousing & Intralogistics sector for our magazine readers?

“Historically India has been very dependent on its labour, and it has not suffered from the shortages of labour that many other nations contend with. However, the challenge is that market demands are developing beyond what is physically possible for humans to fulfil. As intralogistics becomes increasingly labour intensive, businesses are waking up to the possibilities of automation, and the industry has matured very quickly. There is a growing appreciation for the dependability and efficiency that automation offers, and how it supports.

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