CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Honeywell recently announced the creation of Honeywell Robotics, an advanced technology center that would focus on innovating and developing artificial intelligence, machine learning, computer vision, and advanced robotics directed at next-generation supply chains. The center, based in Pittsburgh, aims to shape the warehouse and distribution center of the future for customers, Honeywell said.
“Honeywell has been at the forefront of warehouse automation technology for more than 25 years helping customers improve productivity and efficiency,” said Pieter Krynauw, president of Honeywell Intelligrated. “We are bringing together some of the brightest minds, partnerships, and industry collaborations to create breakthrough technological advancements for customers of all sizes, helping meet the ever-changing demands of consumers.”
For example, online shopping currently accounts for nearly 15% of total retail sales, and is expected to grow to 22% by 2023, according to eMarketer. The expected $6.5 trillion in sales are causing a seismic shift in supply chain operations. In addition, same- and next-day delivery options has stressed the labor market, with industry growth outpacing the labor pool by a rate of 6 to 1, according to the DHL Robotics in Logistics study. With nearly 80% of distribution center operations still performed manually, automation of supply chains is creating significant opportunities, Honewell said.
The new Honeywell Robotics center will be led by Joseph Lui, who previously served as director of IoT and Automation Technologies at Amazon. “As AI, machine learning and computer vision become commonplace, Honeywell Robotics will create innovative, breakthrough technologies to help customers alleviate skilled labor shortages, reduce safety risks and eliminate inefficient tasks,” said Lui. “The use of technology – including advanced warehouse execution systems, 3D storage and sortation solutions to improve capacity and efficiency, and autonomous mobile robots – is just the start of the digital transformation in warehouses.”
Honeywell said the establishment of the center continues the company’s technology transformation, which includes investment in partnerships with software vendors, universities, startups, and incubators, to “create new solutions for industrial customers with both simple and complex needs.” For example, the company is also collaborating with AI researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center to develop breakthrough robotics technologies for distribution centers. Through its Honeywell Ventures investment fund, the company has strategic investments in robotics companies such as Soft Robotics and Attabotics, which is helping to automate complex tasks in dynamic environments.
The company also offers its Honeywell Momentum warehouse execution system, a configurable enterprise software platform that orchestrates equipment, labor, and inventory for distribution centers. The company said the Momentum software “can help streamline the deployment and integration of advanced robotics by providing warehouse managers with a single, centralized system to manage their operations and automation technology.”