STORY INLINE POST
Q: In light of recent global events, how has the logistics landscape in Latin America evolved and how has Körber subsequently adapted its strategies?
A: Körber Supply Chain has a direct presence in various markets in Latin America, such as Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica. Considering Latin America as a whole is possible but it is important to recognize that these countries are very different, each with its unique business dynamics and realities.
After the pandemic, the trend of US and Canadian companies nearshoring certain stages of their production chain to Mexico has significantly boosted global investments. It is a positive moment but also a challenging one because, from a logistical perspective, it is necessary to seek solutions to ensure everything works correctly to take advantage of these opportunities.
Q: How does Körber support businesses in Mexico to stay competitive in this rapidly evolving landscape?
A: Any logistics or supply chain operation needs to start with proper planning. To create an operations and logistics plan, it is necessary to know what resources, stock and production levels are required, as planning without data is impossible. From a technological standpoint, we have already begun to test and use this data, assisting in its collection, processing and generating valuable information for decision-making and logistical planning.
Plan execution involves tools for the movement of goods, including those for warehouse control, management and robotics. These tools ensure the effective execution of the plan.
Q: Körber has partnered with Chinese robotics company Hai Robotics. What potential opportunities do you foresee as a result of this collaboration?
A: Our strategy for autonomous robots in warehouses and distribution centers heavily focuses on flexible automation. Among the challenges for traditional automation, energy costs stand out. Intensive automation may not be viable due to its high energy consumption. Recognizing that labor costs in Latin America are lower than in the US, nearshoring with a lower level of automation and more labor involved in the process is the way forward. This is where flexible automation with robots comes into play, as it can provide a significant productivity boost while maintaining much lower energy and capital investment costs.
Hai’s robots address this intermediate point. They can help reduce costs and energy usage. Hai specializes in technology for handling boxes, while other robots specialize in managing inventory units and pallets. Hai bridges the gap with its excellent box-picking capabilities. To effectively manage the diverse technologies within a distribution center, including conveyor belts, human labor, robots, voice technology and data collectors, we developed a proprietary technology called Universal Control System. This software platform ensures the efficient coordination of all these components to achieve the final goal: delivering products to customers quickly and inexpensively. Our approach leverages different robot technologies and other forms of traditional automation, all harmoniously coordinated by our Universal Control System to achieve the efficient and cost-effective delivery of products.
Q: How much progress has Latin America witnessed in implementing robotics in logistics?
A: Latin America lags behind economically developed countries and needs to catch up. Part of the problem could be the cost of capital. Investments are always challenging, although robots offer a quicker return on investment than traditional automation. It could also be due to a knowledge gap or even conservatism toward new technologies. Nevertheless, Körber has some exciting projects in Latin America.
Q: What innovative practices has Körber implemented to reduce its carbon footprint and promote eco-friendly logistics solutions for its clients?
A: Körber has a strong focus on sustainability. Our internal goal as a group of companies is to become carbon-neutral by 2025. Our solutions for clients help reduce their carbon footprint while optimizing their operations. For example, robots consume much less energy than traditional automation. Some of our clients utilize photovoltaic solar energy capture to power the robots' batteries. A distribution center operated with robots becomes almost carbon-neutral, not only in terms of energy consumption but also in terms of technology.
It is essential to consider the carbon footprint when there's an error in the logistics process, as rectifying the problem leaves a carbon footprint. Our solutions enhance quality and reduce errors, significantly helping decrease energy costs and unnecessary carbon footprint resulting from logistics errors. In some advanced countries, we operate at about 85-87% efficiency while in Latin America, efficiency stands at about 65-70%.
Q: How does Körber approach problem-solving and innovation in different contexts?
A: The logistics, warehousing and distribution solutions market is one of the most versatile because our clients are highly diversified across various business verticals. Other companies often focus on just one area. Part of this versatility is due to the very design of our technology, which is quite open and flexible. Another aspect is the quality of our consulting services.
When implementing our technologies, we strongly emphasize engaging with the client. Our consultants are trained to listen first and foremost before making any proposals. They approach the client and learn their operational reality, challenges and processes. They propose solutions only after listening, understanding and analyzing the situation. This approach makes a significant difference in assisting diverse, unique and distinct areas.
Q: What are Körber's plans for further expansion and growth in the Latin American logistics sector?
A: We are actively developing new technologies, which are Körber's intellectual property or created through alliances. We are also putting significant effort into a new partnership program called EVOLVE Partner Program. In Latin America, this program focuses on generating projects, work and development with our partners. We have strategic partners in various parts of Latin America, including Mexico, and we aim to expand this network. We understand that our clients' solutions should always come from an ecosystem of resources. Collaborating with other companies that know the local market and are present locally is crucial.
Körber is a multinational company with over 75 years of experience in logistics and supply chain. It is present in 100 countries. Körber Supply Chain offers comprehensive software, hardware and automation solutions to improve efficiency and reduce costs in large warehouses.