Automation solutions providers in the GCC expect booming e-commerce sector to continue to be main driver of demand going forward.
There are very few 3PLs, retailers or e-commerce companies in the GCC region that have the volume in terms of through Ìow to justify investment in automated material handling systems. However, while MHE is the area that one most often associates with automation, it is in the digitisation of operations that the greatest gains are being seen by retailers and other logistics operators.
“Automation in the Middle East is going through a significant period of change, with a focus on increased efficiency,” says Alain Kaddoum, general manager, Swisslog Middle East. “We believe that in order to be able to respond to these changes and remain competitive, embracing innovative technologies is now more important than ever before. As a result of this, we are currently seeing a digital transformation. Technologies like the Internet of Things, dynamic enterprise management, global supply chain visibility, and machine learning are already changing the way manufacturers produce goods and interact with customers.”
According to Kushal Nahata, CEO & co-founder, FarEye, this changing mindset is most evident in the e-commerce sector. With the rise of online shopping and the popularity of ecommerce sites, there has been additional pressure on the transport industry to deliver packages on time. “Customers are expecting almost instantaneous delivery of their purchases and the transport companies have to keep up with the expected pace of convenience,” he says. “Success is determined by the companies’ ability to deliver faster and to be exceptionally reliable. Technological advancements have made it possible for the warehouse manager and the end consumer to track the deliveries easily.”
Eva Andren, head of managed services, MEA, argues that achieving these faster deliveries and intense accuracy relies on the adoption of real-time automation. In the Middle East and Africa, real-time automation consists of autonomous applica- tions that leverage data from sensors in real time to trigger specific actions. It is often used in mission-critical applications, where latency, availability, reliability and security are of key importance.
“According to Ericsson’s 5G Business Potential report, op- erators across the region will see the most revenue potential from real-time automation, which offers a potential of USD 6.2 billion by 2026. Real-time automation will experience rapid adoption, at 133 percent in the next 6 years (CAGR 130 percent,
Traditional warehouse management is becoming obsolescent, omnichannel orders require immediate shipping upon check out” ALAIN KADDOUM, GENERAL MANAGER, SWISSLOG MIDDLE EAST.
2020 to 2024),” she says.
Kaddoum says that this is because of the way in which e-commerce logistics has changed traditional retail supply chains. “Traditional techniques of warehouse management are slowly becoming obsolescent, and omnichannel orders mean your organisation needs to be ready with the right product on-hand, at the right time and ship it almost simultaneously with the customer’s ‘checkout’. Technology and software must meet the dynamic needs of retail, e-commerce and multichan- nel logistics,” he says.
The tangible benefits of automation then include the faster transit of goods through the supply chain, processing accuracy, minimised manpower and quality control. The long-term benefits and cost savings far outweigh the initial capital out- lay, according to Nahata. “In the warehouse, automation driven by mobile computers and scanners can ensure that the most up-to-date stock inventory is available for staff. This is paramount as consumers are now demanding within-the-hour delivery,” he says.
Kushal Nahata, CEO & co-founder, FarEye.
Alain Kaddoum, general manager, Swisslog Middle East.
Eva Andren, head of managed services, MEA, Ericsson.