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Swisslog Launch SmartLIFT At ProMat 2015

Leading automation specialists, Swisslog, will launch a new system for the monitoring and tracking of materials handling equipment at the ProMat 2015 exhibition.

SmartLIFT is a Real Time Location System (RTLS) that guides, monitors and tracks every movement of a fork truck vehicle within a facility. Along with live inch-accurate visibility of all vehicles, operators and inventory movements, SmartLIFT provides equipment monitoring and fleet management tools to track vehicle usage.

“We are excited to be unveiling our latest product at ProMat,” says Swisslog director of business development & marketing, Bill Leber. “Data plays a key role in our business, and using SmartLIFT is one of the ways in which businesses can increase their knowledge regarding their fleet utilisation and operator efficiency.”

The launch is being timed to co-incide with a seminar on Big Data, sponsored by Swisslog and hosted by VP of Customer Support, AK Schultz and Program Manager, Sahil Patel.

Says Schultz: “Big Data is an incredible area of development. We have the means to collect and synthesize data which opens the door to predictive modelling. The more we can find relationships and understand our systems, the more we will be able to understand patterns. We can then use this learning to find optimizations and improvements, today which are unknowable.”

In addition to the latest thinking in e-commerce, solutions for cold storage environments and wireless case picking, the company will also showcase its expertise in software and integrated system design.

Swisslog is rightly proud of its successes to date, particularly in the food storage, retail and pharmaceutical industries. A number of recent projects and installations have broken new ground in the US as well as enabled efficiencies in existing tote and goods-to-man handling systems.

But Swisslog not only has an excellent range of solutions for materials handling requirements, it also has considerable expertise in the planning and implementation of entire distribution centres including architecture and construction aspects, all aimed at ensuring the complete facility is perfectly aligned and optimally utilized.

“At Swisslog we have a fairly straightforward approach to what can be seen as a complex issue,” concludes Schultz. “We eliminate risk and inefficiencies for customers when delivering new or adapted automated warehouse solutions, but it takes the type of face-to-face opportunities that shows like ProMat offers, to really demonstrate this in more definitive terms.”

Other seminars presented by Swisslog during the show will cover the impact of automation on warehousing; improvements to safety with AGVs and the latest automated storage and retrieval systems.

ProMat 2015, held March 23-26, 2015 at Chicago’s McCormick Place South, is the largest expo for manufacturing and supply chain professionals in North America, and provides attendees access to the latest material handling and logistics equipment and technologies.

More info: Introduction to SmartLIFT

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The best way to predict the future is…

Like many great quotes that sum up a powerful idea, the line about the ‘best way to predict the future is to invent it’ has a number of claimants for it’s own invention.

It may have been Abe Lincoln, although the evidence is thin. It certainly wasn’t Alan Kay that first came up with it, but when the former chief scientist at Atari spoke of the research carried out at the famous Xerox PARC in 1982, (the Palo Alto centre credited with inventing laser printing, graphical user interfaces and the mouse, amongst other items) he used the phrase to describe the ethos of that organisation. It’s mission: to design a truly personal computer. Atari themselves used the phrase for an ad a year later, but it was management guru Peter Drucker that really took the message to the masses, being attributed with inventing the idea by many media sources.

But it is to none of these luminaries that we should perhaps turn for the origins of this inspiring message. In 1963, Hungarian-British electrical engineer and physicist, Dennis Gabor wrote in his book ‘Inventing The Future’: ‘the future cannot be predicted, but futures can be invented.’ A review in the New Scientist reprinted an edited version, and the phrase took hold.

Gabor truly did invent his own future, having fled from Nazi Germany in 1933 he established himself as a British citizen. Working at the British Thomson-Houston company, he broke new ground in the study of electron inputs and outputs, which eventually led him to the invention of holography – an achievement for which he was awarded a Nobel Prize.

But that wasn’t the end of Gabor’s amazing endeavours. As a Professor at Imperial College London, he gave PhD students tough tasks to complete, one such being the invention of the flat screen TV!

His patents were said to be remarkable, and his writings on the future were incredibly influential. He predicted the importance of automation, cautioning society on its impact on workers, whilst admitting in 1970: “No one can deny that automation is capable of liberating mankind of almost all monotonous drudgery, of mining with the pickaxe…and mind-numbing work at the conveyor belt.”

The prototype futurologist and technologist explained in his Professorial Inaugural Lecture in 1958: “ The first step of the inventor is to visualise, by an act of imagination, a thing or a state that does not yet exist and which appears to him in some way desirable. He can start rationally arguing backwards and forwards, until a way is found from one to the other”.

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Neon sign of things to come

Our mates at Swisslog have sold hundreds of semi-autonomous robots that wizz about in warehouses to get your delivery to you in double-quick time.

Here’s what their cool dude / Innovation Manager, Mike Hattrick thinks is next for us mere humans…

The latest marketing tactics, capturing our attention when we are on the move, may reveal a little more about the future of retail. An award-winning campaign highlights the trend that sees the convergence of innovative media and shopper-marketing ideas, in the process, solving a real business problem for the client.

Travelling through Gothenburg Landvetter airport a sign in the baggage hall grabbed my attention. It had appealing pictures with a tagline that translates as “come home to a fresh food delivery!” giving the tantalizing prospect that tired or busy travellers can simply scan the 2D barcodes beneath each product with their smartphone and have it delivered, trouble free, to their home. In fact they could order while waiting for their outbound flight knowing the order would already be delivered when they got home.

A_sign_of_things_to_come_Image_1This is not an entirely new idea of course. In 2012, a photograph was published of a young man in a subway station in Seoul, South Korea. He appeared to be travelling from work, and was choosing his shopping for home delivery, again using a smartphone, this time on the subway platform. The wall was an LCD screen which allowed the retailer to vary the products on display with the click of a mouse – different products for morning and evening travellers.