Discuss the importance of layout design to integrate automation/robotics in warehouse operations
Case Study: Tractonomy Robotics
Tractonomy is a robotics startup currently located in Kortrijk, Belgium and relocating soon to Ghent, Belgium (tractonomy.com). Tractonomy develops complete autonomous towing robot (ATR) solutions capable of moving materials anywhere from 100kg to 1000kg loaded on carts. The company develop fleets of quick and efficient cart tuggers that are managed by cloud technologies for fast moving production, e-commerce and fulfillment applications. Their robots are designed for superior safety and reliability.
Watch the video on following link to learn about how the company initially was developed (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ci_VgbCohc&t=9s) and review Tractonomy’s website to fully understand the scope of their business https://www.tractonomy.com/).
The core purpose of Tractonomy is to reduce costs and improve the supply chain efficiency of their customers by providing easy-to-deploy autonomous solutions.
In most warehouses, the carts with goods are moved from point A to point B by using human labour and industrial trucks. This leads to higher cost and impacts the speed. The autonomous robot is the cheapest and fastest way to transfer materials including non-conveyable.
Tractonomy’s solutions offer dramatic increases in worker productivity and a significant savings by eliminating the need for manually operated equipment like forklift and tugger-trains. In an industry overwhelmed by the unavailability, cost and inefficiencies of people and traditional equipment like transpallets, tractors and forklifts, Tractonomy aims to make intralogistics productive and resilient, as affirmed by their customers, both current and prospective.
Tractonomy has robotics, AI and computer networking specialists who know how to combine machine and cloud intelligence to help their customers succeed with autonomous mobile robots.
While the company has developed itself with good knowledge and skills in technical aspects, it is seeking to expand its market share and operations in the United Kingdom To do so the company wants to explore following aspects, but are not limited to:
· Understand the market’s profile of potential UK market for Tractonomy’s robotics (Market Segmentation) and which specific segment(s) should Tractonomy focus on.
· Understanding the types of material movement processes within the UK warehouses, and which of those processes companies wants to automate.
· Understand what approaches/methods are currently deployed in general for material movement (e.g. pallet jacks, manual labor, conveyor belts, forklifts, tractors or other forms of robotics and automation).
· Understand the value the Tractonomy Robotics can provide to the operations of warehouses in the UK.
· Understand what specific challenges (shortage of labour, rising labor costs, impact of Brexit, COVID-19, inflation or other economical or global trends) exist in UK warehousing sector, which can be addressed through automation
CW 2.2: You will produce an Individual Management Report for the Managers of Tractonomy about certain key operational aspects of the company if they establish an operational base in the UK. Your focus must be on providingknowledge about the current operations of the Tractonomy and suggestions to improve some of these. Please note that this assignment is not about technical aspects of designing the robots, instead it focuses on the operational aspects of this technology in the context of warehousing/logistics. Your research should focus on UK market only (Partner institutes can adapt to their countries).
Section 1 (see below) is designed for you to provide the Managers with knowledge about how the company currently operates and its analysis. On the other hand, in Section 2 you will provide suggestions regarding how various aspects of the company can be improved and to what outcome. Your analysis and recommendations need to be underpinned by relevant ‘operations theory’ to support your arguments.
1. As an initial step, you are required to investigate and discuss various operational aspects of Tractonomy Robotics and Warehouse Operations. To do this, you will:
a) Identify and discuss what you may consider the most important (for a warehouse):
· Inputs (including the transforming and transformed resources),
· Transformational operation/process,
· Outputs (pure products, a mixture of products and services, pure services) of the warehouse operations
b) Conduct the value chain analysis of warehouse operations and define the importance/impact of automation and utilisation of Tractonomy Robotics to enhance the value chain of a warehouse. (In other words, how can the Tractonomy products satisfy market needs?)
c) Collect primary data (complemented with secondary data) to understand following:
i. To understand the profile (segmentation) of potential market for Tractonomy within the UK
ii. What technologies companies utilise presently in their warehouse operations and for what type of processes
iii. Identify/validate the factors that require the integration of technology and/or autonomous robots in internal logistics (in a warehouse) processes.
iv. The role and expectation from automation/robotics in warehouse operations (Market needs analysis and segmentation among different industries to expand market share).
d) Discuss the importance of layout design to integrate automation/robotics in warehouse operations, and identify potential challenges.
As part of this section, and indeed the whole assignment, you must carry out some actual research to support the ideas presented. You are required to collect primary data in a systematic way.
2. You are required to make recommendations (3 to 4) to improve the operations of Tractonomy. These recommendations could include, but are not limited to, addition of facilities in specific geographical zone(s) within the UK, approaches to expand to market share, developing potential collaborations with existing companies in the UK (if any), and other suggestions based on your analysis of primary data. One element that Tractonomy would like to explore is as to which industry(ies) they should focus on more. It is highly recommended to substantiate the recommendations with theory/frameworks where possible.
(Do not spend time writing about the things that are being done. Explore new approaches which are not covered in their existing plans.) Your recommendations should also address the challenges mentioned in the case study description. (25% marks)