There are more than 40,000 e-shops in the Czech Republic, the ten largest control half of the market. In your opinion, do they play the role of driving the introduction of technological innovations in logistics processes? How do they compare to Europe?

The will for success and the rapid growth of the Czech leaders are admirable. Many of them have already managed to establish themselves in neighboring countries. However, this is not yet the case with the German market. And it is the most developed market in Europe in terms of the level of investment in e-commerce technology. Its geographical proximity brings great competitive pressures to our online stores. On the other hand, this is a huge opportunity. Today, market leaders in neighboring Germany achieve higher labor productivity and lower operating costs. In doing so, they operate with significantly higher labor costs. If Czech companies use the same technologies, they must break through throughout Western Europe thanks to lower personnel inputs and, above all, thanks to their entrepreneurial talent.

About a year ago, just before the rebranding of your company, we wrote about the fact that only a small part of mid-range shops uses automated systems for processing and sorting packages. Has the situation changed since then and has the coronavirus crisis played a role in this?

In the area of sorting, we see huge scope for optimization not only for medium-sized e-shops but also for market leaders. For example, the largest sorter in Europe was recently installed by Zalando. Thanks to the expansion of the portfolio in the field of sorters, there are also solutions for start-up e-shops. To put it simple, size does not matter. In addition to a short return on investment, the basic pillar of our approach is also the protection of our customers' investments. The system must be able to grow with the increasing number of shipments that our clients distribute. Developments over the past three months have enforced the importance of investing in the right technologies.

Can you tell us more about the project to install the largest sorter in Europe?

Zalando has opened a new distribution centre with an area of 130,000 square meters in Olsztynek, Poland. Equipment from Optimus Sorters belonging to the Böwe Systec group, which we represent on the Czech market, is installed here. With a total of 1800 outputs, it can process 16,000 packages per hour.

What does system integration mean to you? Perhaps it is not enough just to correctly connect conveyor lines with automated sorters.

System integration in the field of logistics is no longer just about connecting conveyors and sorters. The task is, in addition to the selection of a suitable technological solution and its correct configuration, also its correct integration with the ecosystems of customers, whose infrastructure is now mostly exposed to an open REST API architecture.

Larger parcel carriers have machine sorters as standard. Is it worth considering introducing them to smaller companies?

The principles not based on whether or not I have a sorting machine, but whether or not I have effectively solved the processes, including sorting, and last but not least, what is the real role of sorting in customer processes. Sorting is now much more than sorting packages at the exit for carriers. It is the heart of the whole solution. You sort the packages when you enter the distribution centre, then sort them to consolidate the shipments, and then sort them for further distribution. Only if you master these three disciplines will you succeed.

In the post-coronavirus era, how strong will the willingness of companies to invest in the automation of their logistics processes be? On the one hand, they need to make them as efficient as possible, on the other hand, they save money to pay their employees.

The latest events were a strong impetus for the whole of society. Social habits and consumer behavior are changing. The crisis may bring an improvement in the situation in the labor market, but at the same time, it will also lead to tougher competition between e-shops. Due to the large increase in volumes, there are also great pressures on processing speed and reliability. Without the use of the right technologies, the competitiveness of online stores decreases.

In the online environment, relatively small shipments are usually delivered, but to many places. Sorting packages is therefore one of the key operations. What are the latest trends?

The range is wider, I will describe the answer to your question on the example of sorters from Optimus. These are equipped with push and tray technology, which is known for its high reliability, thanks to the minimum of wear and tear parts, very low operating costs, and electricity consumption roughly at the level of a domestic automatic washing machine.

What methods of automatic identification are used on sorting machines and to what extent?

All available. Measurement, dynamic weighing, and all reading technologies. The advantage is that once you install weighing, measuring, and reading on the sorter, you can serve the entire process. The one single-point concept is another source for cost optimization.

What other processes can currently be solved using sorting lines?

The range of uses of sorters is very wide. In addition to the already mentioned stocking, consolidation, and sorting of the output, I now see great potential also in the field of reverse logistics. A wide range of return options when shopping via the Internet brings considerable costs when restocking. This process can also be solved on a sorter.

Automatic package processing brings with it away to combat counterfeiters thanks to unique identification codes. This applies in particular to pharmaceuticals.

According to WHO data, one million people die annually in the world due to the use of fake drugs. The world has changed fundamentally over the past few weeks, and we are all exposed to these risks. Just look at the high scrap rate of masks delivered from Asia to our health workers. Globalization has brought a high risk of the rapid spread of viruses and thus high pressure on the distribution of medicines and medical supplies. The right Track & Trace solution is a very powerful tool for optimizing the use of all medicines and medical supplies during a global pandemic.

Source: Ekonom Logistika

Relevant articles

The challenge is the batch processing of shipments, states Radek Hradil, CEO of the aeqoom group