06 Apr HighJump: Elevate
Elevate 2020 – Three-Point Summary
Hasn’t the world changed in a month? Whilst I am now confined to my home in isolation as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, I thought it would be a useful time to provide my three-point summary on the Elevate 2020 event.
At the beginning of March, the team from Balloon One attended Elevate 2020 – HighJump Software’s annual partner and user event. You may have already seen our previous post celebrating our award for EMEA Partner of the year for 2019, but in addition to that, I thought it is important to share a summary of the key points covered at the event.
Why is this so important?
The world is changing rapidly – with the COVID-19 outbreak, it is clear that old ways of working will change and companies need to be flexible, not just to handle extreme incidents such as this, but also to continue to adjust to the changing demands of our society. I’m pleased to say that the HighJump team and its partners really had the right message and content at the event. Here are my three key take-aways from the event:
1) Robotic automation is ready for the wider market
Historically, robotic automation has only been available for large enterprises. Robots in the warehouse were often restricted in the roles they could perform, the products they could work with and often had huge implementation and maintenance costs. All of these factors made robotic automation a poor choice for most small and medium sized businesses.
The situation has now changed. Autonomous mobile robots – or AMRs – are now seeing widespread uptake in small and medium businesses and are no longer considered “experimental”.
Why are AMRs becoming so popular with SMBs?
- AMRs are flexible – they operate alongside the existing workforce, completing the manual labour-intensive tasks – such as moving goods from the pick face to packing bench or performing replenishment. This allows employees that would be doing this manual work to be employed elsewhere in the business, performing key roles.
- AMRs are intelligent – unlike traditional automated guided vehicles (AGVs), which follow fixed routes, usually dictated by magnets or wires embedded in the ground, AMRs use sensors and powerful on-board computers to navigate the optimum route through the warehouse and reach the required location in the fastest possible time. This ability to “see and think” means there is no need to fit expensive infrastructure and the devices are safe to work alongside employees, constantly adapting to changes in the environment.
- AMRs are cost effective – much of the technology used within AMRs is shared with the automobile industry. Components used within AMRs, such as cameras, sensors and navigation, have drastically reduced in price, thanks to the demand and shared application with the automotive industry. Early adopters are reportingtwo to three-fold improvements in productivity within their warehousing operations, meaning an AMR implementation can pay for itself within a few months to a year.
So, AMRs will become much more commonplace in warehousing operations over the coming years – businesses will need to invest in this technology to ensure they retain an advantage over the competition. The question now will be – which AMR to choose?
2) Agility is key
It’s not just the COVID-19 outbreak that has shown the need for companies to be adaptable. It is becoming apparent that businesses not only need to now provide a cheaper, better service to customers, but also an entirely different offering. The key to winning business now seems to be to entirely redefine customer expectations. For example, traditional ecommerce businesses would deliver at best on a next day basis. Amazon then completely disrupted the market by providing same day delivery, a service that made the trading environment quite a hostile place for other businesses.
As a result, agility is key. Businesses that can adapt to the changing market or environment stay on top. These same businesses are also better able to push new initiatives, such as a new service, product range or offering, allowing them to gain an advantage over the competition.
HighJump warehouse management systems are built around adaptability at their core, and this allows users to adjust processes and integrate with other systems quickly and easily, enabling better agility within the business.
3) Cloud infrastructure
At Elevate 2020, HighJump announced a new partnership with Oracle. This continues the ongoing trend of businesses moving to cloud. From our perspective, most of our new customers now choose to implement using a hosted environment, and many of our existing customers are migrating to a cloud platform. The case for hosting is now significant, providing:
- Access to latest technology and equipment – state of the art equipment ensures performance is always optimum. This removes the bottleneck experienced by on-premise customers, struggling on with equipment that is unable to cope with the growth of the business.
- Enterprise level security – customers no longer need to concern themselves with the security of their existing IT infrastructure. Security measures are always up to date and maintained.
- Agility – the ability to quickly build capacity in infrastructure allows the hosted platform to scale as the needs for the business grow, rather than having to procure and install new equipment.
- Excellent availability and up-time – of course one of the key benefits of cloud hosting is the up-time performance. System outages can cost businesses huge sums of money, losing valuable operating time and potentially customers. Cloud hosting provides the best availability and up-time.
So, in summary, and similar to the early adoption of ERP and WMS in the 1990s and 2000s, robotics and cloud infrastructure is now becoming the focus, enabling businesses to be agile, cut costs and out-perform competitors.