April 21, 2024
Nick Ergle

The Future of Logistics: Nick Ergle Shares Insights on Emerging Technologies

Nick Ergle is a logistics professional navigating the intricate pathways of transportation, warehousing, and distribution. In the following article, Nick Ergle discusses robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence within the logistics industry.

Despite the decades of work that has gone into streamlining supply chains, discovering low-cost solutions, and implementing efficiencies, one thing was made certain by the COVID-19 pandemic — the current working methods are vulnerable to shutdowns, labor shortages, and global economic problems more than ever before. But to keep the world running, this must change.

And robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and automation are leading the charge. Advanced solutions include everything from industrial robots to more intelligent data usages to algorithm-led decisions, ensuring the logistics industry can withstand unanticipated outcomes.

Nick Ergle Says Automation is the Future of the Supply Chain

Upon surveying hundreds of European and American business executives on supply chain plans, ABB found that almost 50% are looking to use automation and robotics to acquire supply chain resiliency in the near future.

Nick Ergle says that relying slightly less on human work seems to be a key component of increasing efficiency in the logistics world. Not only does this reduce errors, but experts note it has major advantages in location selection — without the need of physical bodies, geographical flexibility is achieved.

Historically, cheaper labor was a massive factor behind the popularity of overseas operations. However, robotics and automation make it more feasible to relocate to homelands. Supporting this claim was the above-mentioned ABB survey, which found that over 25% of executives were making strides in their efforts to bring production back to the United States of America.

Nick Ergle notes that technology has finally started to catch up to its potential in the logistics industry, shifting to a hybrid environment wherein machines and humans operate alongside each other for extra streamlining.

Warehouse Robots

Perhaps one of the most obvious implementations of such technology is warehouse robots. These additions perform the mundane, repetitive tasks required within supply chains without requiring human involvement. Automating tasks like picking, packing, receiving, putting away, and more has proved more productive, simpler, and much more accurate.

Nick Ergle explains that contrary to popular perception, warehouse robots have not replaced human workers. Instead, they have relieved them of the boring tasks, boosting employee retention and operational productivity as a result.

Warehouse work often involves a bunch of heavy lifting. Robots can handle such weight without trouble, whereas humans may struggle with injuries due to the demands of the job.

Currently, the most popular robotic additions to the warehouse include automated guided vehicles, goods-to-persons robots, and automated retrieval/storage systems. Nick Ergle says that they all accelerate processes, organize them more efficiently, and prevent hard-to-resolve errors.

Warehouse and Production Line Automation – Cheaper as Time Ticks Forward

Initially, advanced robotics and AI were expensive. However, it’s becoming cheaper all the time for companies to integrate these solutions to their supply chains.

According to Jason Bergstrom, the Deloitte’s Smart Factory Go-To-Market leader, the bar between what should be performed by humans and what can be completed by machines rises on a capability basis and falls on a cost basis. Automation in 2015 looks decidedly different from today’s efforts due to the constantly decreasing costs and the overall abilities of technology.

Nick Ergle notes that the logistics industry is implementing AI-powered computer vision to further reduce risks and enhance process automation, safety, and productivity. Everything from defect detection to precision assembly line counting to product and packaging has been transformed by this revolutionary advancement.

And it appears the want for AI isn’t going away. In fact, it’s only intensifying, according to a white paper by Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, UK.

Nick Ergle
Advanced Real-Time Supply Chain Insights with Ever-Advancing Technology

Alongside the physical aspect of physical automation at distribution centers and in factories, technological advancements can allow for a wholly healthy supply chain by offering increased visibility into potential issues and operations.

Nick Ergle explains that by utilizing real-time information provided by AI and machine learning, logistics industry participants can make changes that truly add value. The integrative, holistic nature of the data lets managers anticipate shortages before they occur, bolstering resiliency and preventing vulnerabilities to unforeseen circumstances.

As Claudio Knizek, the worldwide leader of Advanced Manufacturing and Mobility at EY-Parthenon, points out, companies are at different stages of this AI transition. Those further along the implementation line utilize the tools every day, anticipating problems weeks before they actually materialize.

Advancements are happening at a rate of knots, changing the logistics industry for the better as they occur.