I gradually started to orient myself in the new area. Although at that time the aeqoom Group was in the field of logistics for only a few months, during the remote interview with Radek Hradil, I was introduced to a number of their innovative solutions. Some of them resonate still - for example: The added value of batch processing shipments or the influence of minimising the impact of logistics on the environment.
I stayed in touch with aeqoom. It was interesting to watch how they stuck new and new pins on the map of the implemented installations. Within a short amount of time, they amassed a group of satisfied customers, among them were not only companies like PNS, Hermes Fulfilment or Packeta, but also several large players from both northern and western Europe. They have successfully commissioned 20 installations there, in the last year alone. They will make this year's winter even more pleasant for themselves with their first non-European installation in Brazil.
I had known that the Group also had a hand in the technological development of a number of completely new projects. Now I can present them in their entirety.
Augmented reality saves on costs
This year, for the first time, the aeqoom Group participated in the international trade fair LogiMat in Stuttgart as an exhibitor. Here, as an example, they introduced the Total Preventive Maintenance (TPM) system, significantly increasing the efficiency of maintenance and servicing of technologies. They also ventured into robotic sorting and transport. In this field, they have a comprehensive range of robotic solutions.
They achieved a great synergistic effect in their new solution. The strengths of a traditional method built on mechanical conveyors and sorters, were combined with the ones of robotic sorting, in the concept of hybrid processing.
In a nutshell, the TPM system is an external cloud service working with augmented reality, which connects the worlds of internal and external technical specialists. It is built on the architecture of REST‑API and makes it possible to easily integrate the environment of logistics and e-commerce companies with the one inhabited by their service partners. The same applies to production and assembly organisations. They can now monitor, manage, plan and verify the quality and level of services they provide, as well as manage overall costs.
Headsets with augmented reality capabilities are also used to great success in the TPM for effective management of processes and communication of operators, on-site technicians or fitters. They reduce service costs for users of this software, number of breakdowns and technological shutdowns and increase the overall efficiency of service. For users of this software, it reduces service costs, the number of breakdowns and technological shutdowns and increases the overall efficiency of the service. For example, the saving of direct costs reaches an average of more than 30 percent in implemented projects.
Further progress will be brought by a new release of this solution next year. "The management of the processes will be newly provided by artificial intelligence," reveals Radek Hradil.
The magic of hybrid sorting
The hybrid sorting concept combines the elements of both robotic and mechanical sorting and distribution of shipments.
"Robotic and mechanical solutions have their advantages and disadvantages. We have adopted the best of both worlds. Our goal is to get the package out of the hall (sorting centre - editor's note) in the shortest amount of time possible, and with the smallest degree of human involvement possible.
The idea is simple. Oversized shipments significantly bog down the entire process. The mechanically powerful sorter is designed for standard dimensions. Oversized shipments, which usually make up a fraction of the total volumes, are processed in a separate process by robots. Everything is controlled by WMS - also from the aeqoom team's workshop," says Radek Hradil. "In addition, the process can take place in an unusually small space and with a low number of operators'', he adds.
Let's now take a more detailed look at the two projects implemented in the home field. For example, the aeqoom team has solved the sorting process of logistic-technological company Zásilkovna, which belongs to the aforementioned Packeta holding company. A German push‑tray sorter from BOWE, doesn’t just sort but also, in a single tick, does a certified weighing and measurement of it, and also does all the subsequent data processing.
Robotic and mechanical solutions have their advantages and disadvantages. We have adopted the best parts of both methods. Our goal is to get the package out of the hall in the shortest amount of time possible, and with the smallest degree of human involvement possible.
- Radek Hradil, director of the aeqoom Group
Another achievement made by aeqoom in the field of e‑commerce is the solution supplied to the logistics company Hermes Fulfilment, belonging to the German concern OTTO Group. It exclusively provides, among other things, reverse logistics services for the About You e-shop, specializing in fashion.
Retrofit and carbon footprint
"Our company is very environmentally oriented. We are motivated by reductions in our carbon footprint. We produce all the electricity needed by our business with our own photovoltaic power plants. This also applies to the production of electricity for our fleet of cars. This year 70 per cent of the kilometres we drove were in purely electric or hybrid cars", says Radek Hradil.
The call to minimise the impact of the project on the environment and the carbon footprint was also accepted in the aforementioned project for Hermes. We used as much of the old conveyors owned by Hermes Fulfilment, as a part of their retrofit program. We refurbished them, supplemented with new components and installed the entire solution with a new electrical installation and a new PLC system. “We completed the overall architecture with the integration of the Scada solution (it monitors industrial and other technical equipment, processes and enables their control – editor’s note) and the TPM system," further describes Radek Hradil. By the way, the TPM service is also used in the aforementioned Pilsen depot owned by the company Zásilkovna.
Meal vouchers and sustainability in practice
In the Prague headquarters of the aeqoom group, I had the opportunity this year to see, among other things, what other areas it is currently expanding into. Its activities also include the production and reverse data processing of vouchers and documents, such as meal vouchers. The value processing centre, which is the largest of its kind in Europe, handles 200 million transactions a year. aeqoom has developed its own DMS (Document Management System) for their management.
Since the beginning of this year, the aeqoom Group has also included the newly founded company Tangen Energies, which is focused on environmental business. It offers the use of the potential of solar and wind energy mainly for manufacturing and logistics companies, shops and petrol stations and apartment home owners. "We build our success at Tangen on the same principles and values that made us successful in other fields the aeqoom Group works in. Good analysis of our consulting team and its technical intelligence is already bringing satisfied customers in this area as well. The project team then ensures that all three premises of a successful project are met for each installation. High quality, fixed price and a time schedule adhered to. We can find the right solutions and order them to meet the customers’ expectations exactly," describes Radek Hradil.
What else will aeqoom Group surprise us with in the coming years? In the spring of next year, they will open a R&D centre in Prague for automation and robotization of processes and the use of green energy.
It is impossible not to notice that Radek Hradil's team is gradually putting their visions into practice. And what is their recipe for success in a competitive environment? "When you are the leader, someone always copies the solution after you. It's important to always come up with something new, which will put you ahead of the curve again."
Source: Ekonom Logistika