Inventory Drones: Practical Help in Post-COVID Production

The idea of using robots for inventory isn’t new – and drones are becoming increasingly common in warehouses.  Singapore’s Dexion Infinium Scan System claims to be the world’s first practical autonomous drone stocktaking system, successfully deployed since 2017.

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, however, inventory drones and autonomous systems for stocktaking and warehouse management have become more critical.  In an effort to maintain continuity with fewer onsite staff – and less contact between them – Chevron Oronite, Asia’s largest producer of lubricant additives, has deployed Infinium Robotics‘ inventory drone solution.

Chevron Oronite has “just inked a three-year contract with Dexion -Infinium Scan System deploying an autonomous drone and a ground robot to conduct safe and cost-effective automation of inventory counts,” says an Infinium release.  “The Dexion Infinium Scan™ Inventory Management Robotics System, as it is called, is an ideal solution during this unprecedented crisis where warehouses are working with limited manpower and yet having to abide by safety distancing and business continuity protocols.”

inventory dronesWong Su Leong, Team Lead, Procurement Operations of Chevron Oronite Singapore, said: “With the Infinium Scan Inventory system, we have drastically reduced our costs and time in stocktaking. What could take days to complete, can be completed in hours with the automated drone stocktaking system.”

As warehouses face a new normal of stocktaking with reduced manpower, companies are increasingly turning to automated solutions.  Inventory drones and robots were always a great idea: but the current crisis is forcing companies to explore technology in order to maintain efficiency and worker safety.

inventory dronesInfinium Robotics CEO Woon Junyang said: “We’ve seen an uptick in demand as more warehouse operators look towards automation to meet the Covid-19 challenges and ensure a healthier and sustainable New Normal for their businesses.”

Operationally, Junyang pointed out, the case for robotics in inventory management was clear-cut — inventory accuracy of up  to 99.99 % and full stocktaking (wall-to-wall) during off-peak hours or closed-hours, thus not disrupting operations nor suffering any operational downtime for the company during the stock-take periods.

The inventory can also be archived in videos and images that are recorded in real time for review by inventory owners and auditors. Stocktaking time can be reduced from one week (with thousands of man-hours) to less than a day.

Junyang stresses that higher inventory accuracy leads to more optimized inventory levels: which can eventually lower the cost of goods (COG) sold.   Inventory accuracy is an expensive issue, says Infinium: according to market researcher IHL Group, the value of overstocking was $470 Billion, while the understocking cost was $630 Billion worldwide in 2015.

Dexion Asia general manager, Damian Cross said, “In today’s warehouses, the effective use of time, space and manpower affect the bottom-line of a business directly. Having a fully automated drone system take over the function of the manual stock taker will achieve much higher efficiency, and considerable cost savings for the warehouses.”

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