High-tech devices accelerate the logistics sector

Large companies’ investment in in Catalonia triggers the growth within a sector that goes beyond simply transport.

“Four years ago, when we started to offer the degree in Logistics and Maritime Business at the TecnoCampus in Mataró, we asked high school students what logistics was and they answered that it was only for transport and they basically identified it with trucks. Now it is known that logistics is the secret soul of each company, the backstage and the investments of large companies in Barcelona, such as Amazon, giving us a 100% attendance, something that does not happen with other degrees “.

The coordinator of the only university degree in logistics in Catalonia, Jesús Ezequiel Martínez Marín talks about the growth of the logistics sector in Barcelona. He considers that logistics has been the great unknown, which was behind all industrial operations. It is now awakening interest among young people. “Suddenly the consumption system has changed, society demands more every day through channels that require three variables: cost, quality and time,” he says.

“The profiles that companies are looking for are more specialized throughout the entire logistics chain: in storage, distribution, route design and optimization. Mathematical variables along with quantitative methods applied to logistics allow us to optimize the basic routes, specifying between variables that define why a product should use one route over another, “he says.

The scope of the application of route algorithms covers a wide variety of scenarios from different areas, and within logistics. Martínez recalls that applications such as Google Maps work thanks to advanced route algorithms, which can combine factors such as distance, time and expenses in order to define the best route between two specific points (origin-destination) according to the type of route (eg car, train, bus or on foot).

Internal Logistics

Other lesser-known high-tech applications, but also incorporating route algorithms, are found within the internal logistics processes of warehouses and logistics operators. “For example, the automation of picking processes uses route and flow algorithms to define the optimal way to collect products, taking into account factors such as shorter distance or fewer movements required,” he explains.

Martínez Marín, doctor of nautical and engineering sciences, and captain of the merchant marine, explains that within some companies dealing with online sales, the operators have a wristop computer which receives orders made online. Once received, the operators fill their “shopping baskets” within the warehouse with everything the client has requested through its website to complete the purchase.

“The algorithms allow it to define the order of collection of the products, in a single direction of travel, without the need for two or more workers having to interact physically. Simultaneously the system ensures that within the defined route only the lights of the areas where the merchandise is located are turned on, to make the logistics more sustainable. The new technologies also continuously update the inventory within the warehouse by the scanning each product, to give the customer an accurate vision of the stock held” he says.

He also talked about challenges facing the logistics sector. “To improve and increase customer satisfaction, the optimization of the ‘final stretch’ is necessary: the delivery of the orders, which in seasons like the recent Christmas and the Three Kings, generated some dissatisfaction caused by delays in deliveries, due to the outsourcing of the delivery contracts and the high level of consumption, which the courier companies cannot manage in high volumes during peak periods”.

Source: La Vanguardia