Viewing posts categorised under: ECommerce

How to Deploy Affordable Automation in Uncertain Times

Artificial Intelligence, eCommerce, Neocortex, Robotic Case Palletizing, Robotic Order Fulfillment, Robotics, Robotics Business / 05.05.20200 comments

Teaming Man & Machine for a more resilient supply chain

Let’s talk about light-duty, semi-skilled labor for a minute.  Today these jobs are mission critical for supply chains to function.  Fully-burdened at $40K a year, the employee works 7.5 hours a day.  The employer has significant onboarding costs.  Productivity fluctuates throughout the day.  When hiring, the candidate has to pass a drug test, speak English, be able to read, and pass a background check.

There are plenty of dedicated hard workers, but any employer tasked with filling these positions,  knows the truth.  Finding quality is tough, there are thousands of unfilled supply jobs, even in today’s pandemic world with masses looking for work.  Make no mistake,  ambitious and talented people taking a light-duty semi-skilled job are doing so while looking for other work.  The workforce revolving door keeps spinning, and employers are faced with rising costs to maintain productivity while promoting  stability in the employee ranks.

We all know the painful stories of employers struggling to fill, then train, then retain an employee.  One employer I know had to seriously weigh if the murder conviction was premeditated, or accidental in order to make their hiring decision! 

There is a solution.  It involves enabling  current employees to be more efficient by expanding automation in ways not possible until now.   Today robots that sense their environment with an AI “brain” to extract inference from their perception are capable of duplicating the real-time flexible decision making of semi-skilled labor.  They do so retaining the prized qualities that put labor on the supply chain in the first place, but with none of the disappointing troubles.  We call it, robot loyalty – the ultimate company man/woman.

Couple this “smart” robot with a human supervisor, and you now have one person doing work that before required many. 

Let me make a comment about the idea that robots are taking jobs.  The fact is, yes labor will be offset by increasing automation.  But the reason my post started with the lousy state of these jobs, is because they are undesirable.   By turning them over to the robot,  the employee who remains now has an interesting job, and together they drive lower costs and increased efficiency.  The skills they need to manage the machine will lead to a pay raise because the employer want to retain their advanced skills. 

So what happens to the offset labor?  Here’s the truth: We have an opportunity in this country to finally begin bringing manufacturing back to the United States, closer to the consumer.  The economics that drove it overseas,  have run headlong into the fragility of the long supply chain. If we actually made most of what we need right here at home, our ability to support our customers would have made our current circumstance more timely and manageable.  Apple’s chain was broken within days of the outbreak.  Imagine if they made their phones here.  I, for one, would love to buy a television stamped “Made in America”.  We invented the technology and not a single TV is made here anymore.  It’s time to change that.  And robots are the way.

At Universal we’ve been selling the “brains” for robots (or any actuated machine) for over ten years. Our product is used to simulate the semi-skilled work by giving the robot the ability to handle high variability at high speed.  And I can tell you with absolute certainty,  that making America great again, means we need to shorten our supply chains, and bring the production home.  And the way we do it is by driving worker efficiency through the roof.

Okay, so with all the uncertainty in the market,  outlaying capital for equipment right now is simply not possible.  I understand that.  But, I can tell you Amazon is gaining market share because they have been building a harden supply chain for years ,that is now showing its strength.  Waiting will erode your market share even more.  We can help you, and here’s how.

Rather than fund the purchase as a capital expense, with significant cash outlays before realizing the value,  Universal offers off-book leasing.  This technique allows you to order the solution and not pay a dime before implementation.  Then you pay monthly, as an operating expense, out of the labor savings.  You are saving money the day the system goes live, hardening your supply chain, and driving up worker efficiency. 

Call or email us to discuss your automation/labor saving needs.  Together, we will win the day! 


Neocortex AI links cyber and physical systems for Industry 4.0

Artificial Intelligence, eCommerce, Machine Learning, Neocortex, Neocortex G2R Cell, Robotic Order Fulfillment, Robotics / 26.10.2017

Neocortex artificial intelligence links cyber/digital systems and physical systems of the Industry 4.0 revolution – where software algorithms control machines that are integrated with each other and users.

Neocortex uses a closed loop system, known as cybernetics, to control robots.  This embedded system uses sensor data coupled with physical movement, further integrating the Internet of Things.

In the supply chain, the above smart system provides a highly flexible robot cell that operates at maximum speed – matching the utility of semi-skilled labor.  The Neocortex-based robotic cell (Neocortex G2R Cell) continues to get smarter with time – adjusting to parts, processes, containers, and orders. Thus, its value increases over time and with use (just like an employee), leading to a SaaS (software as a service) delivery model.

Neocortex SaaS also spans cloud-computing servers.

This broadens the scope and significance of patterns discovered and monitored across the cyber-physical barrier, leading to valuable breakthroughs in advanced analytics of big data: supply chain effectiveness, group learning of robots, introduction of SKUs, quality or vendor problems, damage trends, and customer order satisfaction. This both lowers costs and increases sales.

Watch a great overview of Industry 4.0 implications here.


Warehouse & Logistics Robotics WW Revenue Projected to Grow 64% CAGR

Artificial Intelligence, eCommerce, Machine Learning, Neocortex, Neocortex G2R Cell, Robotics, Robotics Business / 30.05.2017

Research and Markets projects that the global warehouse and logistics robot market revenue will grow from $1.9B in 2016 to $22.4B in 2021, and units from 40,000 to 620,000. Research Analyst Manoj Sahi states, “new robotics technologies that could yield a return on investment (ROI) in less time than it took a few years ago.” Two key areas the report points out are the growth of mobile robot platforms and industrial robot manipulators.


Supply Chain Analytics

Artificial Intelligence, Cybernetics, eCommerce, Machine Learning, Neocortex, Robotic Order Fulfillment, Robotics, Robotics Business / 29.08.2014

Clint Reiser points out in the linked article that a new revolution in supply chain analytics is occurring. There is new level of data detail, it’s coming at us faster, providing bigger patterns and better insights.

The detail isn’t just point-of-sale information, customer buying patterns, or fleet telematics. From Universal’s perspective, the combining of machine learning and machine vision into robust automated solutions for material handling processes previously thought as random is a unique source of this data.


Online Orders Push Need for Accurate, Automated Order Fulfillment

3D Vision Guidance, Artificial Intelligence, eCommerce, Machine Learning, Neocortex, Random Bin Picking, Robot Vision Guidance, Robotic Order Fulfillment, Robotics, Robotics Business / 14.08.2014

Note from Bob Ferrari’s Post on Aug 7, 2014 entitled Permanent Shifts in Consumer Shopping Trends Have Supply Chain Implications. He comments on a quote in the article: Online Customer Fulfillment, Retail Supply Chain, Supply Chain Business Process that cites the following from Shopper-Trak: “Online sales have grown more than 15% every quarter for the past two years and are having a big impact on the way many companies are looking at their brick-and-mortar stores…. Rather than networks of distribution centers and fleets supporting individual physical stores, the new emphasis will be on high-volume online fulfillment supported by combinations of fulfillment centers and multi-purpose retail outlets.”