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The heat - the energy

18 October 2022

WE HAVE seen astronomical energy price rises for businesses. It’s hard to ascertain whether this is down to crises such as the war in Ukraine, with the hope that it may ease in the future, or whether it is now baked in due to deeper structural changes.

The latter looks more likely, as a number of factors mean global oil production is historically low. These include low oil prices over the last decade, which led to a lack of investment in production and refining capacity. On top of this, OPEC+ has signalled that it is not likely to significantly boost oil and gas production. The oil producers fear a coming recession among oil consumers and want to make sure they get a steady (high) price for what they are selling.

Even if the war ends, it is difficult to see a route for Russia to quickly reintegrate into the global energy market. It will take a long time for the world to trust Putin again, if he stays on, or place trust in his successor, if he does not.

With oil and gas greatly influencing the baseline of energy prices, it means businesses should not be surprised to see a sustained crisis.

In this issue, we highlight concerns that the UK’s energy infrastructure many not be fit for purpose to support the next generation of distribution centres. On a more positive note, we hear of the vast potential offered by warehouse roof spaces and how using this space to generate solar power could go a long way to meeting energy needs. See Page 30 for more.

What is almost certain is that energy is likely to be a major issue for the foreseeable future, and so we are focusing relentlessly on this subject for warehouse occupiers and others. We will highlight products, solutions and partners for you in the magazine, across face-to-face events such as Tomorrow’s Warehouse, and webinars as well as on our website and Enewsletters.

Picking

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) have developed rapidly over the last few years, offering the ability to tackle many warehouse processes at a time of worker shortages. In this issue, we look at Picking specifically, and talk to Geek+ Robotics, Exotec and Zebra to highlight solutions for now, and what you should be thinking about in the future as these technologies further bed in to the increasingly sophisticated modern warehouse. Among the common key themes looking ahead, is a recognition that a number of different technologies may be deployed and these will need to be linked at the control level, as well as at the workflow level with WMS. There also looks to be a growing role for robotic arms in picking, as the technology looks to have made the necessary step change to be able to make a real world difference. See Page 22 for more.

Tech-led logistics

In this feature, we are exploring those third party logistics companies that are embracing technology to improve service to their customers. One of the pioneers in this respect is Wincanton, for example, in its stand-out W² Labs programme, which invites warehouse and logistics related start-ups to compete for the chance to trial their solution in a live environment.

Wincanton has really committed to the process and the calibre of the entrants is very strong. It is well worth a read to see the kind of technology and approaches that are seeking to get more out of established warehouse processes, or indeed re-think supply chains to potentially make some rather large strides indeed. See Page 44 for more.

 
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