TECH BYTE: Innovation Lab Helps Test Tech for Businesses

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Warehouses across the country rely on tech to get their work done.

It’s all about trial and error at Kenco Logistics’ new Supply Chain Innovation Lab.

They’re testing machines like these robots, to make sure they get the job done for their customers.

It’s a real tech test lab.

“Our goal here is not to be a showcase,” said Kristi Montgomery, Kenco Logistics. “It truly is to take these technologies that we think are changing our industry, and test them, and prove their value.”

One of the big items they’re experimenting with are robots like this one.

Montgomery says they’re meant to save workers time and a lot of effort, by moving bins around the warehouse.

“Think about some of these warehouses are about two million square feet,” she said. “Some people walk 15 miles a day in those warehouses. We want to reduce that walking, just from a pure ergonomic perspective if nothing else, but certainly there’s some cost savings, as well.”

Kenco is testing the robots, to see which ones are the best fit for a particular company.

“Our customers struggle with just who they need to invest in. Which of these robotics companies make the most sense for them? So it’s less about proving that the robot can do what it can do, but where is it the perfect fit for our customers?”

Montgomery says companies are starting to use more robots, because it’s harder to find actual people to do the job.

As more businesses move online, the robots will be used more often.

Drones are also being tested for warehouse inventory. They’re more accurate, using pictures to document the information.

“We’ve been working with a number of the drone vendors to capture that inventory in an autonomous fashion, either during lights out, or where people are not working,” Montgomery said. “So the drone can fly when it’s dark. The drone can fly when, you know, folks are taking their break, whatever the case may be, and it can capture all of that same information that people are having to capture manually today.”

Augmented reality is used to actually train the warehouse workers much faster.

Montgomery says it usually takes about two weeks to get someone proficient with an RF device, but these vision glasses cut that down to training workers within an hour.

“They put on the glasses. They’re immediately able to see what they’re supposed to go do, and they have visual cues as to what’s right and what’s wrong. And so again, improving accuracy and quality of what they’re doing, as well as training them quickly, and giving them the ability to be successful.”

Montgomery says testing these products helps make them better.

As online shopping continues to get more popular, so will these robots, and other tech tools.

Categories: Local News, Tech Byte, Technology

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