As a launch pad for strategic logistics and supply chain automation research, the facility can boost industry innovation and collaboration.

In line with the pandemic-driven need to achieve greater supply chain resilience, one logistics and shipping firm in South-east Asia has launched an innovation center to foster collaborations with strategic partners to incubate, test, and deploy next-generation technology to help businesses accelerate their digitalization journey.

The UPS Supply Chain Solutions Asia Pacific Innovation Centre in Singapore consists of specialized zones that include a mock-up of a warehouse for real-time demonstrations of the latest technology, as well as dedicated areas in a real warehouse for hands-on pilot collaborations with customers.

For example, hot-off-the-shelf tote-picking robots enable an extended-depth bin-to-person picking capability which can save close to 50% of warehouse space. Their AI algorithms allow sophisticated scheduling and order analyses to facilitate increased overall productivity, accuracy, and warehouse density.

Also, transportation robots are on show to demonstrate their heavy lifting and point-to-point movement capabilities. With their ability to perform split-second multi-package radio-frequency identification (RFID) scanning in warehouse operations, they offer faster turnaround and higher throughput in less time.

UPS also offers a digital supply chain portal that lets customers access a comprehensive digital ecosystem that provides near real-time end-to-end visibility of supply chain performance.

Monitoring a tote-picking robot’s efficiency

Towards future-proof supply chains

The firm envisions the innovation center—its first venture of this nature globally—to be a testbed to explore and implement new technologies that have yet to be deployed on a large scale. Plans are in place for collaborating with academia for in-depth supply chain research technology, sharing of industry best practices, and expansion of such a innovation centers to other parts of the world. UPS is already in close collaboration with customers and technology partners to converge innovations such as autonomous mobile robots (AMR), RFID and drones. These technologies can narrow efficiency gaps in supply chains, and streamline inbound and outbound logistics operations, order fulfilment, and inventory checks.

According to Philippe Gilbert, President, UPS SCS, the center can help bring next-generation supply-chain technologies and solutions to life collaboratively with other firms: “Nearly two years of pandemic-related disruptions have led to extensive shifts in the way companies and consumers source and receive goods, as well as sped up long-anticipated trends, such as the adoption of e-commerce and at-home consumption. The Asia Pacific Innovation Centre represents our commitment to accelerate the application of emerging digital technologies that reimagine and redefine a new normal for our customers in Asia and across the global supply chain.”