Collision courses in warehouses, says Ocado at SHD Conference

April 18, 2018 by Kirsty Adams
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Collision courses in warehouses, says Ocado at SHD Conference

The SHD Logistics Conference took place yesterday at The British Museum and included speakers from Ocado, Swisslog, Amazon and Sainsbury’s.

Alex Harvey, head of robotics and automation at Ocado, the first key note, described Ocado’s material flow, in the future, as so fast that that its bots would be on collision pathways which required a style of air traffic control. “Our bots are not autonomous, they will be on a collision course, with a control system similar to air traffic control.”

Alex wants to control 1,000 bots in real-time, flagging up the importance of data scientists to logistics in future.



Swisslog UK’s presentation, from head of sales Shane Faulkner, once again positioned the automation company as a thought leader, as Shane reflected on social trends and how its projects are tackling the challenges they bring including around robot rental and a pay-per-click models.

Beverley Bell, former traffic commissioner and well known face in the industry, took on the skills and talent gap. Beverley discussed how the profession must act to tackle the issue.

Naila Dad, head of operations at Pharmacy2U, our Overall winner at the Logistics Awards, impressed our audience and raised questions such as, are there any drugs that cannot be prescibed online? No, was Naila’s answer. “We have the NHS contract to supply all prescription drugs,”  she said. Naila was also asked if there was a high risk of lost drugs in the postal system. Naila confirmed that they use Royal Mail, and there were few losses. Naila was also collared in the networking area by several delegates asking how they could sign up for the service!

Our afternoon keynote was Amazon’s Prajvin Prakash from the Warrington Fulfilment Centre. Prajvin spoke of how the ecommerce giant’s technology methods have adapted with the use of advanced technology and where Amazon thinks technology is heading.

Nick Eades, chief marketing officer at Wincanton, shared how the company has collaborated with start-ups and how the 90-year old is being forced to adapt in some weird and wonderful ways. Nick cited two companies they have worked with including Sorted.

James Osborn, senior strategy manager at Sainsbury’s, advised us on Blockchain. James, following discussions in the morning break, decided it would be best to take Blockchain back to basics and explained how supply chain leaders can leverage Blockchain today with immediate benefits to profitability and customers.

Industry expert Peter Ward, CEO of UKWA, led two energetic conference panels which tackled the crucial issues of how to attract talent and grilled Alex Harvey on Ocado’s annual report.

The breaks were for networking and to find out about solutions from exhibitors including Swisslog UK, Elokon, Kronos, SmartFreight and Syft.

The next SHD Logistics Conference will take place in October.


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