News / More automation needed as demand for warehousing outpaces supply

first_img Warehousing capacity in North America is increasingly tight, raising the spectre of firms having to turn away business.Several recent reports have sounded the alarm over an issue that has become a huge headache for shippers and logistics providers alike.With demand showing no sign of easing and new space in short supply, the situation is getting critical.A report on third-party logistics warehousing published by Reuters Events last month that surveyed 273 warehouse operators, most in North America, found 50% of the respondents operating at 90% or higher capacity – as many as 13% were actually beyond the 100% level of nominal capacity. Logistics real estate giant ProLogis warned that shippers and delivery companies have to turn away business because of capacity issues.On top of constraints to grow business, warehouse operators are also being hit by higher costs. According to a report by ProLogis in November, rent and facility costs are the top expenses in the sector,  and rents climbed on average 2.5% last year.Moreover, labour has become tougher to find, adding to the cost pressure on warehouse operators.Of the respondents to the Reuters survey, 41% were looking for new space, a quest getting more difficult – 27% described finding new space as their biggest challenge.The push into residential neighbourhoods to set up fulfilment centres for online orders is stirring up opposition from communities, who cite noise, pollution and strain on road infrastructure. Resistance is also affecting plans for new warehouses in peripheral zones.Amazon has run into headwinds near Buffalo in New York state, where it wanted to spend $325m to build a 3.8 million sq ft distribution facility. According to one report, the company is considering an alternative location after stiff opposition from local residents.The need for more capacity is driven by rapid growth. Of the firms surveyed by Reuters, 64% reported double-digit growth last year.The chief engine for the steep rise in demand has been online shopping boosting the need for order fulfilment services. And retailers saw a need to stock key goods to meet demand spikes triggered by the pandemic.Both Reuters and ProLogis reports say this trend will continue this year, and likely beyond. ProLogis estimates the total e-fulfilment footprint will have to double over the next five years.And new capacity is unlikely to keep up with this. ProLogis warned that, over the next five years, new supply of capacity in the US could be up to 140 million sq ft short of demand.To cope with these challenges warehouses must turn more to automation, urged Melinda McLaughlin, vice-president of research at ProLogis.“Many users of logistics space are grappling with several forces at the same time: rising e-commerce volumes; the need to hold more inventory; and shortages of available space and labour. This will drive up competition for limited space and those that act first will secure a competitive advantage.“The ability to incorporate automation and other technology into operations can also aid in the transformation of supply chains and offers additional flexibility in location and labour.”She added that ProLogis’ research indicated that the fastest-growing segments of automation were geared to labour productivity and concentrated in e-fulfilment operations.Reuters’ study suggests there is ample room for warehouse operators to achieve gains through automation. While 87% of those surveyed had warehouse management systems, only 49% were using order management systems. Only 6% were using “some form of robotics”.Wearable devices have also been hailed as tools for productivity gains in warehouses. DB Schenker reported last summer that using smart glasses for order picking, which it had trialled in several locations, had had proved more efficient than handheld scanners. By Ian Putzger, Americas correspondent 04/02/2021center_img © Gualtiero Boffi last_img read more

Hart nearly misses his beat

first_imgA Briton travelling to Brussels by Eurostar nearly missed a recent train after security guards were unable to identify a suspicious object in his suitcase.But so what? Well, the man in question was none other than City of London police commissioner James Hart – ironically one of the UK’s foremost security experts. Hart was on his way to a British Chamber of Commerce conference on economic crime and corruption and to brief the UK embassy.last_img

Hurricanes May (or May Not) Miss Us – and They Leave Deadly Rip Tides

first_img Share We’ve written often about hurricanes, great and small. Of note, forecasters predict a likelihood of 13 to 19 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher) for this season. An average season produces 12 named storms of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.The combination of several climate factors is driving the strong likelihood for above-normal activity in the Atlantic this year. El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are expected to either remain neutral or to trend toward La Nina, meaning there will not be an El Nino present to suppress hurricane activity. Also, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, coupled with reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon all increase the likelihood for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Similar conditions have been producing more active seasons since the current high-activity era began in 1995.This column is about rip tides, rip currents and undertows – which are what distant storms often leave us.  Lest one of us comes to grief…Undertow v Rip Tide v Rip CurrentsAnybody that has ever been to a beach understands undertow. It is the backwash as gravity returns a breaking wave to the sea. All but small children can stand against it – and its effect ends at the leading edge of the next breaking wave. While it might knock you down and thus “suck” you under, it won’t pull you out to sea. Our mothers didn’t know that because they confused undertow with rip tides and rip currents.A rip tide is the result of tides and the egress and ingress of large volumes of water flowing through inlets, estuaries, and bays. As facts would have it, most people don’t swim near inlets or where bays meet the sea.  They swim near beaches, where sand bars often form, and where rip currents, “the killer current,” form in concert.The Anatomy of a Rip CurrentRip currents are by far the biggest killers of ocean swimmers. Rip currents form as waves disperse along the beach causing water to become trapped between the beach and a sandbar or other underwater feature.  This water becomes the “feeder” that creates the deadly force of the rip current. The water converges into a narrow, river-like channel moving away from the shore at high speed.Marine scientists define a rip current as having a “neck” (the river-like channel moving away from the shore) and a “head” that is often defined by an unusual disturbance or choppiness in the water and by murky discoloration caused by sand and debris. As the water, and swimmer, reaches the “head,” the velocity and strength of the rip current circulation begins to weaken considerably.Can I See a Rip Current?Often, yes. As a result of the current’s speed, sand is forced into suspension often causing a rip current to be associated with “dirty” water. It is characterized by a strong, localized current flowing seaward from the shore; visible as an agitated band of water, which is the return movement of water piled up on the shore by incoming waves.Most Importantly, Can I Get Out of the Grip of a Rip Current?If you don’t panic, and play the water’s power to your advantage, yes. Don’t try to swim back to shore against the rip current that is dragging you out. Most likely, you will tire beyond recovery and drowning, flatly put, will follow as surely as night follows day. Swim with and across the rip current. Let it give you some speed – as you “exit – stage left!” Or right – but get out of the grip of the current and into “normal” water. Then, deal with the hand you’ve been dealt – swim back, or just tread water while waving your arms for help, or just float and rest. This is why swimming with a “buddy system” is so critical…If you are interested in being part of USCG Forces, email me at [email protected] or go directly to the D1SR Human Resources department. Vincent Pica is Commodore, First District, Southern Region (D1SR) of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary.last_img read more

Lady Spikers heads to semis, eliminates UE

first_img“Bumawi doon sa mga bumawi sa amin noong first round so ’yon muna ang goal namin and then kung kakayanin ma-sweep ang second round isa ’yon sa mga goals namin,” added De Jesus, glad to see the Lady Spikers get back at the Lady Warriors, who won their first-round match in four sets.“Well after siguro ng mga losses namin noong first round siguro nakita nila ’yong problema and unti-unti namin binuo ’yon, ’yong goal,” said de Jesus.“Sa nakikita ko ngayon mas determined silang manalo every game and nakita na nila kung ano ang role nila as a player inside the court,” he added.La Salle dominated UE in attacks 39-12, had nine points on blocks against two by the Lady Warriors, and also had five service aces against one by the bottom team in the one-hour and nine-minute match.“Kasi kapag nagkaroon ng chance ang team na tapusin ng straight sets pinipilit namin pero kung hindi talaga kaya ang goal namin ’yung manalo na lang eh,” said de Jesus.La Salle will face University of Santo Tomas on April 8 after a two-week break, Adamson University on April 11 and Ateneo on April 15.Shaya Adorador scored 5 points for Lady Warriors, out of contention with a 2-10 win-loss record. ( Majoy Baron (center) scores for La Salle Lady Spikers, which made it to nine wins in 11 outings. MARLO CUETO FOR SPIN.PH MANILA – Three-peat seeking La Salle advanced to the Final Four after a 25-8, 25-14, 25-12 rout of University of the East in the UAAP Season 80 women’s volleyball tournament on Saturday at The Arena in San Juan.Skipper Majoy Baron scored 13 and Kim Dy had 11 points for the Lady Spikers, who extended its winning run to five and improved to 9-2 to book its ninth straight semis appearance.But La Salle coach Ramil de Jesus does not want to focus on the Final Four just yet.“Sa ngayon hindi ko pa iniisip ang Final Four basta ang iniisip ko ’pag may dumating na kalaban paghandaan,” said the 10-time UAAP champion coach.last_img read more