© Honeywell General | October 25, 2019
Supply chain automation: Honeywell stepping up
Honeywell has announced the creation of Honeywell Robotics, an advanced technology center of excellence focused on innovating and developing AI, machine learning, computer vision and advanced robotics for use across supply chains.
Based in Pittsburgh, Honeywell Robotics’ mission is to help shape the warehouse and distribution center of the future, particularly with regard to automated solutions, software and robotics. The goal is to deliver increased speed, accuracy and throughput in complex material handling environments, a press release said. The new center of excellence will be headed up by robotics expert Joseph Lui, who previously served as Director of Industrial IoT and Automation Technologies, Robotics for Amazon. "As AI, machine learning and computer vision become commonplace, Honeywell Robotics will create innovative, breakthrough technologies to help customers alleviate skilled labor shortages, reduce safety risks and eliminate inefficient tasks," said Lui. "The use of technology – including advanced warehouse execution systems, 3D storage and sortation solutions to improve capacity and efficiency, and autonomous mobile robots – is just the start of the digital transformation in warehouses." Honeywell Intelligrated President Pieter Krynauw said, "Honeywell has been at the forefront of warehouse automation technology for more than 25 years helping customers improve productivity and efficiency. We are bringing together some of the brightest minds, partnerships and industry collaborations to create breakthrough technological advancements for customers of all sizes, helping meet the ever-changing demands of consumers." According to eMarketer, online shopping currently accounts for nearly 15% of total retail sales and is expected to grow to 22% by 2023, representing over USD 6.5 trillion in sales. Online purchasing, especially combined with same- or next-day delivery options, has stressed the labor market to the point of a shortage, yet almost 80% of distribution center operations are still performed manually, according to DHL's Robotics in Logistics Study, cited in the press release. With industry growth outpacing the labor pool by a rate of 6 to 1, this growth is creating significant opportunities to automate supply chains. Additional supply chain automation endeavors include Honeywell’s collaboration with AI researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's National Robotics Engineering Center to develop robotics technologies for distribution centers. The company, through its Honeywell Ventures investment fund, has strategic investments in robotics companies that include Soft Robotics and Attabotics, to help automate complex tasks in dynamic environments to maximize productivity and labor efficiency.