UAE pioneering huge cost-cutting ‘smart warehouse’ solutions
Automation and AI-driven technologies are changing the face of Middle East’s warehousing industry, pushing advanced inventory control high up the industry agenda and sharpening cost-control, space optimisation and competitiveness, according to a UAE sector pioneer.
Fadi Amoudi, the Founder and CEO of IQRobotics, the name behind Dubai’s first robotic fulfilment centre, says intelligent fulfilment and Warehouse 4.0 will become an industry ‘norm’ ensuring transparent, 24/7 live inventory control while delivering accuracy three times that of humans at up to 70 percent less cost.
Amoudi believes the UAE will become an intelligent fulfilment hub. “I see it as extremely promising since the UAE is one of the pioneering countries to introduce new technologies,” he said.
IQRobotics is to demo intelligent inventory control systems, including smart in-bound trolley stations and robotics technologies at Materials Handling Middle East, the region’s dedicated trade show for warehousing, intralogistics and supply chain solutions.
The show’s free-to-attend Scalex supply chain and logistics forum, which will run September 3 and 4 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), will this year focus on the technology which is transforming the industry with the challenges of e-commerce fulfilment among topics experts will address.
Digitalisation and automation of inventory control is making its presence felt in the UAE with Aramex this year launching a new, partially automated fulfilment centre in Dubai to support the rapid growth of its e-commerce business with B2B retailers.
The 60,000 square meters, temperature-controlled centre in Dubai Logistics City features new technologies including a ‘Pick to Light’ system, which uses light-directed picking technology to improve accuracy and efficiency, and an automated conveyer belt system.
Meanwhile retailing giant Majid Al Futaim says it plans to continue to invest in and expand its Carrefour FMCG regional distribution centre in in the coming two years, which will be fully automated and staffed by the latest in retail industry robotics.
Furniture and interiors retailer IKEA says it will pilot test the use of drones for inventory management in its Dubai South distribution centre.
Materials Handling Middle East’s organiser Messe Frankfurt Middle East, says several key factors are driving ‘smart warehousing’ demand in the region. They include the need to get ‘faster to market’ to serve customer demand, desire for increased efficiencies, surging regional e-commerce growth and the UAE’s bid to become a global transhipment hub for Chinese exports as part of the new Belt and Road accord signed between the two nations.
“The growth fundamentals are there and it is now vital that logistics and distribution gear up to satisfy them,” said Jasmeet Bakshi, Group Director of Other Services at Messe Frankfurt Middle East.
“The UAE-Chinese accords could see bilateral trade via Dubai rise by 33 percent to US$70B next year while the Middle East’s e-commerce market, driven by increasing demand from the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s strong millennial population, is expected to grow by 16.4 percent over the next three years to be worth US$48.6B in 2022, according to BMI Research.
“Ability to seize the opportunities will lie in smart logistics capabilities, including ‘smart warehousing’ driven by the implementation of the Internet of Things and the associated training which underlines this transformation. The possibilities seem endless - ranging from the automation of picking tools, storage and retrieval systems, guided vehicles inventory control platforms, warehouse management systems and collaborative robots.”
Messe Frankfurt has co-located SPS Automation Middle East, the exhibition and conference for innovative automation solutions alongside Materials Handling Middle East, which runs at DWTC from September 3-5.
“The co-location gives all professionals in the logistics sector the opportunity to understand not just the automated solutions of today, but those that will drive business tomorrow,” explained Bakshi.
Materials Handling Middle East, which has attracted several national pavilions and more than 120 exhibiting companies from 20-plus countries, runs from 3-5 September at DWTC. For more information, visit www.materialshandlingme.com.