Introduction: With the application of information technology, automation control technology, the Internet of things and other intelligent technologies, the logistics industry has already started to take the pace from labour-intensive to knowledge and technology-intensive processes, gradually away from the era of "hand-carrying and shoulder-carrying" manpower. It is in this environment that intelligent handling robots are gaining attention. In the process, Tusk pallet robots are constantly surpassing themselves and are gradually creating a differentiated route that belongs to the "Tuskrobots" brand.
Intelligent logistics in the fast lane of development
On 12 January 2022, China's first five-year development plan for the digital economy, the "14th Five-Year Plan for the Development of the Digital Economy", was officially released, with 12 references to logistics and 10 references to supply chains. It also makes special mention of the need to vigorously develop intelligent logistics and encourage the development of an intelligent economy, including the promotion of "intelligent parks, autonomous driving and unmanned distribution".
Logistics is a typical labour-intensive industry at the beginning of its development, and people are almost inseparable in logistics scenarios such as express delivery, takeaway, LTL express, port terminals, park warehousing and community distribution. According to statistics, China's logistics industry employs as many as 50 million people, but even with such a huge scale, it still cannot meet the demand for logistics labour of the world's top one express country, NO.1 road freight country and NO.1 shipping country, which has prompted companies to start implementing transformation strategically and strengthen their exploration of intelligent logistics.
The core element of intelligent logistics is the use of integrated intelligent technology, which allows it to imitate human intelligent behaviour, to solve problems in the logistics system on its own by using learning, perception and judgemental reasoning. In other words, intelligent logistics is a higher form of logistics system that makes use of new information technology and modern management techniques such as big data, cloud computing and blockchain to make modern logistics more leisurely. Compared to traditional logistics, intelligent logistics can be used in a scientific way to achieve a more refined management under the empowerment of wisdom whether in transport, warehousing or packaging, distribution and other aspects. At its root, the development of intelligent logistics is to help enterprises to reduce logistics costs and improve logistics efficiency, and to promote the continuous improvement of the overall economic benefits of enterprises.
In recent years, the state attaches great importance to the intelligent development of the logistics industry, and relevant ministries and commissions have issued a number of policies and opinions on the promotion of intelligent logistics, planning a grand blueprint and action direction for the intelligent development of the logistics industry. At the same time, the introduction of these policies also provides a strong guarantee for the intelligent development of the logistics industry, and the entire logistics industry, under the guidance of the policy, continues to empower the intelligent development of logistics through innovative models and the application of advanced technologies. Intelligent handling robot is driven by the general environment, and has gradually attracted people’s attention.
Creating differentiated logistics robots
Zhang Weizhong, chief operating officer of Tuskrobots told reporters that in traditional warehousing, many materials in transit standard carrier pallets have a very high turnover frequency, but in the past, in addition to the relatively bulky automatic forklifts on the market, there is no better intelligent handling robots that can adapt to pallet handling, basically still completed by manual operation, which also caused the high cost and low efficiency of the traditional handling mode. " In order to solve the core pain points that have been plaguing the manufacturing and logistics industries in the pallet handling field, after visiting many industry pioneers and experts, we came up with a unique robot model to solve this problem with a team that wanted to make a change and benefit the industry and with a big enough brain and enthusiasm. Tuskrobots was built in this process of constant thinking step by step." Zhang Weizhong reminisces as he explains to the reporter how the company was founded.
Throughout China's logistics equipment industry, the obvious and rapidly developing automated logistics equipment in recent years is the logistics robot. With the comprehensive promotion of "intelligent manufacturing" and the rapid development of e-commerce, the technological revolution triggered by robots is rapidly unfolding in the field of manufacturing and warehousing logistics. With the strong support of the government, the active promotion of the industry and the help of social capital, the field of logistics robots in China has achieved leapfrog development. The sudden crowding of the race track is certainly not a bad thing, but how to hit the differentiation, make your own special robot, and really improve efficiency for users is the test that every logistics robot company will surely face.
The Tusk pallet robot is an original domestic product, originally designed to be able to carry out direct pallet handling without any assistance, and can switch seamlessly with manual labour. Compared to other handling robots, the Tuskrobots can handle pallets directly on the floor without the need for ancillary equipment such as racks and shelves," says Zhang Weizhong. Not only do we apply smarter slam positioning technology, but we are also compatible with the more mature DM code positioning technology, which not only allows for large-scale cluster scheduling without interference, but also has higher flexibility and lower space requirements than traditional automatic forklifts."
It is understood that Tuskrobots can perform difficult manoeuvres such as rotating in place and panning at any angle. It supports very narrow road access and dense storage, which achieves at least 30% increase in storage capacity. " Because our robots can place pallets completely on the robot carriage without the need for continuous weight-bearing by the fork arms, they greatly improve operational stability as well as the service life of the robot, which can truly provide 360-degree safety protection." Zhang Weizhong emphasizes, "This is something that is difficult to achieve with forklift-type robots on the market today, and in addition, Tuskrobots are able to achieve a weight ratio of nearly 1:4. This also allows the robot to be lighter so that it can more easily access places with low load-bearing requirements, such as lifts and building storage, facilitating the random switching of old and new plants without additional construction costs."
Original robots blaze new trails
As Tuskrobots unique pallet handling model was developed completely in-house, there was nothing like it on the market, which meant that at the time of its inception, Tuskrobots had no experience that was worthy of reference in the marketplace. "At the time, even we weren't sure whether such a solution would work or not, we simply went on modifying and testing it with enthusiasm and ideals, encountering all sorts of problems along the way that were beyond expectations." Zhang Weizhong said, but it was with enthusiasm and the team's tenacity and perseverance that, through trial and error, adjustment and improvement, we finally developed a functional module that had never been used on a mobile robot before, resulting in the current pallet robot product, which has achieved the initial expected results. It is in this way that we have not only fulfilled our dream of being a pallet robot, but also made our contribution to the industry.
It is under the temper of all kinds of hardships that the Tusk pallet robots have continued to surpass themselves and have gradually developed a differentiated route that belongs to the "Tuskrobots" brand. Our robots can be used in all floor-level pallet handling scenarios and can be used in a wide range of intelligent manufacturing and logistics handling applications, such as production line handling, inbound and outbound warehousing, manual material calling, picking and unpacking, etc. Our robotic systems can also support a wealth of third-party equipment docking scenarios, such as automatic doors, hoists, lifts, vertical storage and other scenarios, which can be fully automated for cross-room and cross-floor handling. Besides, we have functional support for industry scenarios, such as neatness requirements in the pharmaceutical industry and anti-static protection requirements in the electronics industry, etc."
Achieving standardization for long-term development
Although in the process of continuous evolution, the pallet robot input has been able to meet most application scenarios, there are still many pain points in the current intelligent manufacturing field or logistics automation field. For example, one of the big problems is that the handling carrier is not uniform and non-standard. Zhang Weizhong said that different industries use a variety of carriers, and manual work for the carrier judgement can be accurate and fast, but it needs higher requirements to implement on the robot. Not only should we adapt to different types, different forms of pallets, but also we will meet different carriers in different ways of operation, which makes it difficult to adapt one robot to all scenarios at the same time, resulting in a wide range of robots on the market to meet different operational requirements. Even the same carrier in different sizes can require different robots to carry it. The many different types of robots put more pressure on the upper-level robot scheduling system and complicated path planning strategies, thus affecting the process of industrial automation to a certain extent.
Zhang has his own views on this, he believes that standardization and unification of all types of handling vehicles should be achieved if they want to solve the problems, which will be more conducive to the growth of automation in the industry. In addition, due to the different operational processes of each company and the difficulty and cost of management standardization, there will still be mixed human-machine work scenarios, which will also put forward better demands on the safety of the robot, and the frequent mixed human-machine collaborative work also reduces the overall robot system efficiency to a certain extent. "These types of situations therefore require us to work together with companies to find the best balance between the capabilities of robotic systems and manual job management operations in order to maximize the efficiency of their operations." He further explained, "Based on the current market situation, we have made modular divisions in product functionality that can be more easily adopted in a combined manner to suit different business scenarios and to enrich the requirements of the existing multi-type variety of robots. We are also continuously improving our robot product standards, which have met national standards as well as European standards and other requirements."
Liberating manpower and improving logistics flow efficiency
With the application of information technology, automation control technology, the Internet of things and other intelligent technologies, the logistics industry has long already taken the pace from a labour-intensive to a knowledge and technology-intensive process, gradually moving away from the "hand-carrying and shoulder-carrying" era of manpower. Among them, intelligent logistics makes a great contribution.
Zhang Weizhong believes that the future of intelligent logistics must be digital, quantifiable and highly automated, and it can rely on digital or virtualization to fully track all aspects of the entire logistics supply chain. He said that as labour costs rise and the industry becomes more stringent about efficiency and safety, the standardization of handling processes will lead to the greatest degree of automation. All aspects that require repetitive or heavy human labour, including material flow, line connection, inventory management and even remote transportation, will be optimized. Digital improvement can also rely on big data and statistical information to constantly provide suggestions for improvement and optimization of inefficient logistics processes. Relying on strong algorithmic support, it will maximize the liberation of manpower and improve the flow efficiency of the overall logistics industry.
"As a robotics technology company, we are very expect to be able to create robotics products that can truly solve the pain points of the industry with our experience in the intelligent manufacturing and logistics industry, our enthusiasm for technology and passion for innovation, contributing to the development of automation in the industry, to become a respected company. At the same time, as a Chinese company, we are looking forward to developing more original technologies and products to add to China's intelligent manufacturing." Zhang Weizhong concluded.[email protected]
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