Sandvik has opened a state-of-the-art coiled tubing line for premium grades of seamless stainless-steel products in smaller dimensions at its Zhenjiang tube mill near Shanghai, China. The commitment to produce longer lengths of weld-free coiled tubing locally will enable customers in the Asia Pacific region to receive deliveries within 28 days, instead of waiting four to six months for longer length reels to arrive from abroad.
“The new coiled tube offering is a further step in our commitment to boost the competitiveness of customers in China and throughout the Asia Pacific region,” says Satish Sharath, Business Unit President Sandvik Tube APAC. “We’ve seen a rising demand on projects within chemical processing, oil and gas, alternative energy and other industries for urgent local supplies of coiled tubing. The compact reels, ease of transport and ability to precisely cut lengths in challenging situations allow customers to work fast and efficiently, with fewer connectors and zero risk of system leakage.”
Initially, the focus will be on Sandvik 3R60 (ASTM TP 316/316L) tubing – an austenitic chromium-nickel steel with a minimum of 2.6 percent molybdenum and low carbon content – in outer diameters from 6.0 to 14 mm. The coiled tube is supplied as level-wound on plastic-wrapped wooden reels in standard (55-260 m) or longer lengths (135 – 611 m), or as bulk coil, strapped into boxes. The new range complements Sandvik’s current offering of six-meter straight lengths of hydraulic and instrumentation tubing, which are already available in the widest range of sizes and grades on the market today.
“At first glance, most tubing looks pretty much the same,” says Glenn Darley, Regional Sales and Marketing Director in China. “But numerous tests show that Sandvik truly sets a standard within the various product and grade standards, consistently delivering at the highest levels on key performance criteria such as ovality, corrosion resistance, surface smoothness and tight tolerances. This – and our deep materials expertise – matters a great deal to end users who often discover the hard way that inferior local grades can lead to system leakage, unplanned maintenance or – even worse – a plant shutdown.”
According to Darley, the 28-day delivery promise means, in effect, that Sandvik coiled tubing is now “closer than you think.” In addition to Sandvik 3R60 (ASTM TP 316/316L), the company will supply other grades of high-alloy and duplex tube products in a wide range of dimensions. He encourages customers to ask about these. However, they will be handled on a case-by-case basis, by country, and may be subject to slightly different delivery times than the 28-day guarantee now being offered for standard grades.
“Our aim is to better serve customers in the Asia-Pacific region,” says Paul Tsai, Production Unit General Manager at the Zhenjiang Mill. “The new offering combines advanced production technology and unique manufacturing know-how with extensive technical support.” The mill he oversees, located 250 kilometers northwest of Shanghai, produces straight and U-bent tube for heat exchangers and hydraulic and instrumentation tubing in austenitic and duplex stainless steels as well as high-alloy austenitic stainless steels and nickel alloys.
“Our commitment to China and Asia-Pacific region goes back more than 40 years,” says Satish Sharath. “We have trusted distributors or sales offices in virtually every country, opened our high-tech mill in Zhenjaing in 2011, have another tube mill in India and one in North America, in addition to our main R&D and tube production works in Sandviken, Sweden. In other words, plenty of backup production power.”
South Korea has emerged as the top investor in Vietnam with US$60 billion worth of investments in the country as of 2018. This can be attributed to investments from mega companies such as Samsung, LG, Hyundai Motor, SK, Lotte, POSCO, CJ, Hanwha, LH Corp, Shinhan, Kumho, and Hyosung. To top this off, South Korean firms are continually seeking to expand investments in Vietnam due to the improvement in business conditions and implementation of effective policies over the past years.
In fact, during a meeting between South Korea officials and executives and the Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, it has been elaborated that conducive business policies, have translated into better macroeconomic indicators which in turn allow for other sectors and FDI to grow. Kim Tae Soo, Head of the Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) has also added that, South Korean investors are interested in the infrastructure, logistics, manufacturing, automobile, agriculture, and food processing sectors within Vietnam. And the EDCF will work to speed up the disbursement of soft loans to help Vietnamese firms conduct projects under a public-private partnership (PPP).
To add to this, the South Korean government also considers Vietnam as the key pillar in its “Look South” policy and South Korea’s linkage to Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
GERMANY:Trumpf will be showcasing numerous solutions for autonomous factories at EuroBLECH 2018 in Hannover. The company is set to present a range of digitally connected applications for sheet metal processing that are designed to make manufacturing processes simpler and more efficient. “As they become increasingly autonomous, our machines are taking on more tasks and making life easier for the people who work with them. But you can only unlock these benefits with a connected, intelligent production environment. That’s what enables us to achieve productivity gains and secure our customers’ competitive edge – and artificial intelligence is the key,” says Heinz-Jürgen Prokop, Chief Executive Officer Machine Tools at Trumpf. Prokop notes that there is now little to be gained by striving for ever higher laser power. Instead, the focus should be on connected machines and the processes that occur upstream and downstream from the actual production process. Combined with intelligent data analysis, he argues that this is where the biggest productivity gains can be achieved.
Assistance Systems Makes Processes More Reliable
Trumpf has already laid the foundations for the autonomous factory by including numerous assistance systems in its machines. One example that makes cutting processes more reliable is Smart Collision Prevention. This function’s programming already takes account of tilting parts and then develops a processing strategy in its calculations to avoid collisions with the cutting head. More and more machine functions now control processes autonomously. One example is Smart Nozzle Automation, a function that periodically inspects the nozzle and automatically replaces it if it is damaged. And that’s not the only milestone on the path toward autonomous laser cutting that Trumpf is showcasing at this year’s EuroBLECH in Hannover.
The fully automatic TruLaser Center 7030 laser system takes the whole concept of autonomous machines to the next level. From programming to part sorting, everything it does is completely automated. “We’ve already started using intelligent data analysis to improve the processes executed by this machine. By incorporating customer feedback in the form of data, our aim is to steadily perfect the entire system. Artificial intelligence is the next stage of Industry 4.0,” says Thomas Schneider, who heads up machine tool development at Trumpf. A good example is the machine’s unloading unit. The pins that lift the sheet out of the scrap skeleton are designed to ensure efficient and reliable part removal using suction cups. If the pins fail to get it right the first time around, the machine initiates a new part removal cycle on its own, without requiring any intervention. It then repeats this cycle as many times as necessary until it works. The machine processes and assimilates each of these retry attempts and learns from them.
Smart Factory, Intelligent Logistics
Trumpf will also be presenting a connected intra-logistics solution at EuroBLECH, something that Trumpf has already tested successfully at its Industry 4.0 showcase factory and at selected customer locations. The solution improves the logistics processes that run on the shop floor, for example the routing of parts from one processing station to the next. “Customers participating in our product testing program have sometimes made five-figure savings by deploying our indoor localisation system,” said Schneider. “It enables them to reduce search times and prioritise jobs in an intelligent fashion.” This is steadily becoming more important because batch sizes are shrinking and sheet metal fabricators are increasingly struggling to keep track of jobs throughout the entire production process. At the same time, the sheet metal fabricators’ customers want to know what stage their order has reached, which is a level of transparency they have come to expect from doing business online. The indoor localisation system enables customers to manage their production processes more efficiently and satisfy their own customers’ expectations.
APMEN is pleased to conduct an interview with Lim Fang How, Regional Director, Southeast Asia, Zebra Technologies Asia Pacific how manufacturers, transportation and logistics (T&L) firms, and retailers are preparing to meet the growing needs of the on-demand economy.
Q: WHAT DOES ZEBRA THINK IS THE IMPACT OF KEY TRENDS, ON RETAIL, MANUFACTURING AND LOGISTICS COMPANIES TODAY?
Lim Fang How (LFH): Ever-increasing technology adoption by customers has resulted in the current on-demand economy, in which customers expect instantaneous service delivery as the baseline standard. Early attempts to address these needs sparked innovation which began at the core of the enterprise. Innovation is now exploding at “the edge” where employees make real-time decisions and interact directly with the people they serve.
The increasing use of visibility technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics across various industries—manufacturing, logistics, and retail—has resulted in a hyper-competitive landscape where businesses may struggle to stay relevant—even those that were once dominant.
The rise of e-commerce and omnichannel retail has led organizations to tap on heightened automation, merchandise visibility and business intelligence in the supply chain to compete in this on-demand consumer economy. Companies today need to digitally transform their supply chain to addresses key pain points such as: inventory visibility, resource allocation, reducing backorders and replenishment efficiency.
Zebra’s latest Fulfillment Vision Study surveyed manufacturers, transportation and logistics (T&L) firms to find out more. According to the study, 73% of consumers are omnichannel shoppers today (and they spend more than single-channel consumers), while only 42% of supply chain respondents believe they’re operating at an omnichannel level.
While many respondents acknowledged that accurate inventory visibility was key to delivering a seamless omnichannel experience, they also felt that inventory visibility is not where it needs to be, reporting that their inventory accuracy is only 61%. There is still a gap between where the respondents feel comfortable in offering a seamless omnichannel experience – and this is where visibility solutions will give enterprises the performance edge to thrive in a highly competitive environment. As companies deploy an omnichannel approach, quick and drastic adjustments will be needed, and they need to ensure that they have in place the solutions needed to give them the competitive advantage over their competition.
Zebra has long been a pioneer at the edge of the enterprise, and our portfolio of intelligent edge solutions and devices is designed to deliver a performance edge wherever the frontline may be.
Q: 92% OF THE RESPONDENTS CITED CAPITAL INVESTMENT AND OPERATING COSTS OF IMPLEMENTING AN OMNICHANNEL OPERATION AS A KEY CHALLENGE. WHAT CAN BE DONE TO SOLVE THIS?
LFH: One of the best ways to address these issues is by reassessing an organization’s IT strategies and educating employees. Zebra’s Intelligent Enterprise Study 2017 revealed that while organizations have strong IoT visions, there is still room for improvement when it comes to ensuring robust change management initiatives associated with IoT deployments. Some 50% of respondents expect internal resistance when adopting those IoT solutions, and are either still developing a plan or don’t have a plan to address that resistance. According to the survey, some popular solutions organizations have put in place include educating employees on the impact the solution will have on roles and workflows (60%), educating employees on the value proposition of the solution and putting formal training plans in place (53%).
A separate study from Zebra, the Manufacturing Vision Study, also found that cost, privacy and security and integration challenges were found to be some of the top barriers to adopting an IoT solution. To address these hurdles, enterprises need to design an IoT solution that matches its specific challenges, given that the amount of technology needed to track its goods, assets, people and processes vary widely depending on each operation. This study also affirmed that more education and information sharing can be done to ease IoT adoption.
Q: WHAT ARE THE TECHNOLOGICAL INVESTMENTS THAT RETAIL, MANUFACTURING AND LOGISTICS COMPANIES TODAY SHOULD CONSIDER, TO ENABLE OMNICHANNEL LOGISTICS?
LFH: One of the biggest growth in adoption that will enhance omnichannel logistics will be radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology and inventory management platforms, say respondents from the study—as they see adoption jump from 32% today to 95% in 2028. RFID-enabled software, hardware and tagging solutions, offer up-to-the-minute, item-level inventory lookup. The visibility gained provides the supply chain with a performance edge that heightens inventory accuracy and shopper satisfaction while reducing out of stocks, overstocks and replenishment errors.
On a similar note, 55% of organizations today are still using inefficient, manual pen-and-paper based processes to enable omnichannel logistics. By 2021, handheld mobile computers with barcode scanners will be used by 99% of respondents for omnichannel logistics. The upgrade from manual pen-and-paper spreadsheets to handheld computers with barcode scanners or tablets will improve omnichannel logistics by providing real-time access to warehouse management systems.
In addition, future-oriented decision makers revealed in Zebra’s Fulfillment Vision Study that next generation supply chains will reflect connected, business-intelligence and automated solutions that will add newfound speed, precision and cost effectiveness to transportation and labor. Surveyed executives expect the most disruptive technologies to be drones, driverless/autonomous vehicles, wearable and mobile technology, and robotics.
Q: WHAT ARE KEY CHALLENGES FACED AROUND PRODUCT RETURNS AND HOW CAN COMPANIES RESOLVE THIS?
LFH: As highlighted by the Future of Fulfillment Vision Study, reverse logistics, referring primarily to product returns, has become a significantly bigger concern in an omnichannel marketplace. It is also extraordinarily costly and is eating into already pressured profit margins, with shoppers returning an estimated US$642.6 billion in goods globally each year.
Retailers must look into managing returns efficiently and cost effectively, as 80% of shoppers get turned off when experiencing hassle-heavy return process, according to a ComScore Study. However, many retailers are hesitant to enact changes, and seem uncertain as to how to best improve their processes. In fact, 74% of surveyed retailers agree that returns for online orders are a challenge, with 28% viewing it as a significant challenge. To overcome the cost issue, merchants are increasingly exploring new models to offset the costs of returns. The study uncovered that 58% of retail respondents add a surcharge for returns today and 71% have no plans to change this in the future. Of the 42% of merchants that do not currently add a surcharge for returns, 80% plan to do so in the future.
Decision makers are also testing solutions such as leveraging the store as a product returns hub. A resounding 71% of surveyed executives agree that more retailers will turn stores into fulfillment centers that accommodate product returns. Furthermore, the majority of retailers that currently do not offer free shipping, free returns or same-day delivery plan to do so and expect to engage third-party firms to manage the returns process in the future.
Any supply chain dealing with return logistics should also ensure that they have real-time visibility on their inventory. First, ensure that your systems are up to current inventory levels with accurate inventory visibility. Second, plan for an explosion of returns and make sure your processes are in place to deal with this, lest your warehouse fills up too quickly.
Q: HOW ARE APAC COMPANIES LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY TO SERVE CUSTOMERS BETTER?
LFH: APAC enterprises are adopting visibility solutions—like those from Zebra—that empower their frontline workers to gain a performance edge. Zebra serves 95% of Fortune 500 organizations globally to provide these visibility solutions. While we have many successful deployments, some interesting APAC examples include those below:
In Australia, MyChemist/Chemist Warehouse Group—the largest retail pharmacy on the continent, successfully deployed Zebra’s TC70 mobile touch computers for its stock management system for its retail chains. The company adopted over 1,600 Zebra TC70s across its network of retail outlets. As a result, MyChemist radically improved staff efficiency, allowing them to complete tasks at a faster rate.
In India, CEAT—one of India’s leading tire manufacturers—has reported significant increases in productivity and reduction of supply chain errors after deploying visibility solutions provided by Zebra. CEAT uses Zebra’s solutions to simplify its processes and build automated workflows that deliver greater efficiencies and business value at its Halol plant. By using Zebra’s solutions, CEAT improved dispatch accuracy, leading to a 20-times reduction in fault finding and customer complaints. This helped increase cost efficiency, customer satisfaction, and overall value for the manufacturing process.
In Indonesia, the leading lifestyle retail conglomerate PT MAP has deployed a suite of Zebra’s intelligent enterprise solutions—including the MC55 mobile computers, the RFD5500 RFID sleds, and the MC3200 mobile computers in its stores. Subsequently, MAP reported a jump in staff productivity, better inventory control, and increased supply chain accuracy.
The e-commerce industry is going through explosive growth in recent years fuelled by rising Internet penetration and a rising generation of more affluent, web-savvy middle-class consumers. By Lieu Yew Fatt, Managing Director, Omron Electronics Singapore
In Southeast Asia, the e-commerce retail market size is projected to grow to US 87.8 billion by 2025 . This stood at US5.5 billion just three years ago in 2015.
Consumers are embracing e-commerce and have come to expect the modern day online retail experience, which is associated with affordability, convenience, flexibility, speed and transparency. They are also getting accustomed to e-commerce retailers promising fast delivery, tracking of shipment at every stage and low (or even no) delivery charges.
Naturally, logistics industry players are facing tremendous pressure to meet this expectation. It is no wonder that logistics companies in this region are looking to strengthen their operations. Many are looking to better utilise of automation and digitalisation to see if they can better run their operations. They are especially exploring newer technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), automation and robotics, data analytics and Internet of Things (IoT).
Vanguards In The Industry 4.0 Transition
Singapore is ideally-placed to capitalise on the advances in technology and tackle today’s logistical challenges with its robust infrastructure and geographic location. The Port of Singapore is among the busiest transhipment ports in the world, and recognised as the Best Seaport in Asia by the Asian Freight, Logistics and Supply Chain (AFLAS) Awards . With connections to 600 ports and access to daily sailings to most major ports in the world, logistics companies in Singapore enjoy the flexibility of choosing the best and quickest way to get their goods delivered to customers .
The Port is also equipped with advanced technology that boosts the efficiency of operations. The highly-praised Flow-Through Gate, a fully automated and centralised system that enables trucks to obtain clearance into the port within 25 seconds, is an ideal example of automation enhancing the efficiency in logistics . This potentially increases the speed of which goods are transited to the next node of the delivery process and getting parcels delivered to customers quicker.
Clever Plans For A Smart Nation
In recognising the role that technology, robotics and automation play in addressing the demand for more efficient and effective logistics, the Singapore government has embarked on several initiatives to promote a culture of digitalisation among local businesses.
The Economic Development Board recently published The Singapore Smart Industry Readiness Index, a whitepaper that illustrates the government’s efforts to capitalise on the Industry 4.0 trend and transform the manufacturing landscape in Singapore. In this whitepaper, the government shared its Index Framework (Figure 1), which consists of three building blocks and eight pillars that can guide businesses to digitalise their processes and thrive in Industry 4.0. Logistics businesses can use the framework as a guideline to take the necessary actions to establish themselves as an Industry 4.0 company.
Another government body, the Infocomm and Media Development Authority (IMDA), has produced an Industry Digital Plan specifically tailored for SME logistics companies. Part of the Industry Digital Plan is the Productivity Solutions Grant that funds 70 percent of a business’ purchase of advanced technology solutions. This plan helps small logistics firms adopt digital technologies, including robotics and automation, to address the challenges ahead.
Senior Minister of State Dr Koh Poh Koon reaffirmed the government’s commitment to digitalise Singapore’s logistics industry when he recently expressed national support for the Container Depot and Logistics Association (Singapore)’s (CDAS) launch of its Transport Integrated Platform (TRIP)—a common platform that enables most logistics operators to communicate through a single node.
Through this development, stakeholders along the supply chain can coordinate cargo movements and exchange vital information more efficiently due to the elimination of manual processes and disparate communication systems that lack interoperability. Logistics businesses stand to benefit tremendously from this centralised system as operations and collaborations between warehouses, delivery vehicles and container vessels become more efficient and productive.
Private Sector Initiatives Are Key
The onus is, however, on logistics businesses to capitalise on Singapore’s strong foundations and proactively seek ways to digitalise operations. YCH, one of the leaders in the supply chain industry, is an example of a local company that has prepared itself for Industry 4.0 by accommodating advanced technologies in its operations. Last year, it opened the Supply Chain City , a 2 million square-foot facility that utilises technologies such as inventory-counting drones and advanced robotics. YCH’ desire to continuously improve by accommodating technology has seen it propel from a transportation company to an industry leader.
With technology advancing rapidly and manufacturing playing such a large part in Singapore’s economy, local businesses and their customers are set to enjoy the benefits brought about by augmenting logistics with robotics and automation.
Arguably one of the principal demand generators of logistics, manufacturing output (excluding biomedical) increased 8.9 percent year-on-year as of February 2018 according to a report by the Economic Development Board. The future of manufacturing looks brighter than ever as Industry 4.0 could boost the total manufacturing output in Singapore by $36 billion, enhance labour productivity by 30 percent and add 22,000 new jobs by 2024, according to a study by the Boston Consulting Group.
Apart from public sector initiatives, logistics businesses can garner support from organisations like Omron, which has recently launched the Automation Centre (ATC). Apart from showcasing state-of-the-art technology such as smart assembly lines and mobile robots, the ATC is open to organisations in the logistical supply chain who are keen to prototype and test smarter solutions. Since its launch in September 2017, Omron has been collaborating with solution partners in test bedding advanced technologies such as 3D Vision, in addition to automation of logistical operations such as bin picking and optimisation of goods delivery in warehouses. These are the type of advancements that are expected to help logistics players in Singapore keep pace with the rapid evolution brought by the expected burgeoning ecommerce scene and Industry 4.0 trends.
Riding The Industry 4.0 Wave
Singapore enterprises in the logistics industry are well positioned to ride the wave of Industry 4.0 – the fourth industrial revolution where machines and humans interact together through intelligent networks. Businesses here benefit from strong infrastructure and economic framework already in place. They also have ready access to a technologically supportive environment.
This has not gone unnoticed of course. According to a recent World Economic Forum report, Singapore is among 25 countries that stand to benefit the most from advanced manufacturing and smart factories. The country is also ranked second by PWC as a world business hub.
What is important is that logistics companies here capitalise on the available opportunities. They need to strategically adopt technology to effectively cater to the demands of the modern consumers. In a nutshell, they need to continuously strive towards excellence in their operations and service delivery, as well as ensure that they are constantly adding value to the supply chain.
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