The logistics arm of Alibaba Group, Cainiao Network, has launched a 20,000m2 smart warehouse in Thailand – with 100 automated guided vehicles (AGVs) – as well as a fully automated bonded warehouse in Xiasha, China.
The 20,000m2 warehouse in Thailand forms part of the company’s partnership with e-commerce logistics company Flash Express. The AGVs are expected to improve its storage accuracy and warehouse pickup efficiency by reducing the distance employees have to travel by 90%. The improvement in efficiency is expected to support increasing business and consumer expectations during shopping festivals, which could see demand rise up to 10 times its usual volume. The smart warehouse technology is also expected to lower management costs and increase efficiency.
Cainiao has also established a fully automated bonded warehouse in Xiasha, China. The stereoscopic warehouse adopts a fully automated parcel sorting model and can store up to 30,000 parcels. Given the complex setup of the bonded warehouse, which encompasses numerous merchants and product categories, the automated facility uses an algorithm to schedule warehouse pickups and facilitate manual parcel sorting. There, the feed boxes carrying goods will be automatically moved to the sorting area in response to real-time orders, resulting in a 50% improvement in productivity. During Double 11 in 2021, the Xiasha warehouse processed a third of all parcels designated for Hangzhou’s bonded warehouses.
Cainiao has also launched its enterprise smart warehouse solution – which adopts a consultative approach to the implementation of new technologies – to accelerate digitialization within the industry. The company’s proprietary warehouse management system uses artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and automation to support the exponential rise in demand and parcel volume during global shopping festivals such as Double 11. This is supported by smart logistics resources such as autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), automatic guided vehicles (AGVs), a central warehouse management system (WMS) and more.
The smart warehouse solution enables businesses to increase logistics efficiencies, streamline processes and overcome manpower shortages and mitigate the supply chain disruptions induced by the Covid-19 pandemic, which are expected to last through 2022.
Dr Ding Hongwei, general manager of Cainiao technology, said, “Besides enhancing the solutions available within the global logistics industry, it’s crucial for us to leverage present opportunities to raise the visibility and value of supply chain strategies and operations. By democratizing our smart warehousing solutions, we hope to boost supply chain resilience to withstand further potential supply chain disruptions and become a key player in supporting the global e-commerce boom.”
Globally, the smart warehousing market size is expected to almost double, growing from US$14.8bn in 2021 to US$25.4bn by 2026, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.5%. However, the Warehouse Automation: Robots, Technologies, and Solutions Market, 2021-2030 report found that more than 80% of current warehouses have no automation capabilities. With the e-commerce boom in Southeast Asia, forecasted to reach US$254bn gross merchandise value in five years, logistics firms that can successfully digitalize to seize these opportunities will be able to reap the benefits from the growth.
Ding added, “The global supply chain disruptions in the past year have shed new light on the necessity of an efficient logistics value chain that is also capable of alleviating external disruptions and highlighted the urgent need to accelerate innovation within the logistics industry. At Cainiao, we constantly invest in technologies that enhance our operations and facilitate the overall transformation of the sector. With the successful digitalization of our supply chain processes, we want to bring that knowhow to the rest of the world to safeguard operational efficiencies of cross-border e-commerce logistics.”