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31 May 2018

Business opportunities in logistics have been mushrooming thanks to thriving e-commerce. The business models of both sectors have been transforming and evolving as a result. This is apparent as the logistics industry had to expand and integrate their resources in order to properly service increasingly sizable online shopping orders. In turn, evolving logistics support enables online stores to further expand their product range, making the world of e-commerce all the more vibrant.

Founded in 2015, RV Automation Technology Company Limited, a member of HKSTP’s Leading Enterprises Acceleration Programme (LEAP), specializes in the research and development (R&D) of industrial automation technology. It develops intelligent warehouse solutions leveraging robotics and machinery to reduce warehousing costs and optimizing operational efficiency, and serves to support e-commerce development to gear up for the Industry 4.0 era.

Warehouse management determines manufacturing performance

Warehouse management is critical to the manufacturing process. Parts and products generated in different stages of production – be it between the processes of primary production and advanced processing, or between manufacturing and selling, wholesale and retail, or in freight or shipping –they all require temporary storage. Warehouse management efficiency can be a huge contributing factor towards production efficiency and sales performance.

According to RV’s CEO Rio Chau, Industry 4.0 utilizes big data to efficiently make use of resources, on-demand manufacturing, and flexibility to adapt to changes in the market, and it will be the key engine to power global economic development. However, the performance of warehousing and the logistics industry must improve in order to work well with other parts of the process and reap the benefits of Industry 4.0. This is what RV wants to achieve with its intelligent warehouse solutions.

Intelligent warehouses can resolve management difficulties

Traditional warehouse management involves a number of procedures such as storage, classification, selection, packaging, and distribution. It has been done by hand in general. As such, accuracy and efficiency leave much to be desired. The work is repetitive and boring, making staff recruitment challenging. Intelligent warehouses, on the contrary, can make use of robotics and automated equipment to help companies more accurately handle product management, and require less manpower to handle the rapidly growing volume of goods.

Robotics optimizes resource consumption

RV’s intelligent warehouse solutions deploy robotics extensively. With a central control system that manipulates the robots’ movement, the robots have a high level of autonomy to adapt to changing conditions. The company also applies Industrial IoT technology to help identify the location of goods and increase storage capacity. RV’s solutions help warehouses improve their efficiency in extracting goods from storage, saving production time by 50%, and optimizes the use of space, reducing space needed by 15%.

Providing training to prepare for future challenges

Rio points out that RV’s solutions have taken into account both the clients’ current needs and possible future challenges, including the market trend of having increasingly complex and fragmented personalized products. He emphasizes that RV’s intelligent warehouse solutions can transform warehouses from a traditional labor-intensive operation to an automated and efficient one. The labor force can instead be geared for management, helping the industry to further evolve and strengthen its competitiveness. RV has cooperated with German automation training company Lucas-Nulle to provide customized intelligent warehouse environment training to help improve the performance of company employees.

At present, RV has about 50 employees from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Apart from its Hong Kong headquarters, it has R&D centers and factories in Shenzhen and Dongguan, and is slowly expanding in the Greater China market. RV has been enjoying rapid growth by working with warehouse logistics service provider Times Logistics, IT customer support service provider E.C. Fix Technology, and textiles and garment company Novetex Textiles to deploy several intelligent warehouses in Hong Kong.

Rio says that HKSTP has provided RV with tremendous support through programmes such as LEAP, helping them especially with expanding in the market and connecting with stakeholders. He believes that intelligent warehouse solutions will help warehouses in different industries become smarter, integrating manufacturing and consumption models in line with the trend towards small batches and personalization, and facilitating the development of Greater China enterprises towards “Industry 4.0”. In the meantime, RV will strengthen its R&D work and develop closer cooperation with HKSTP and various industries to broaden and deepen the deployment of smart warehouses.

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