Current affairs

Monday, 2 de April, 2018

In the town of Castellbisbal in Barcelona, Amazon set up its first robotized warehouse in Spain. By doing so, the huge company started a trend that is now well established: opting for robots to take charge of moving products around the warehouse. This topic was the focus of the latest Business Networking session held at the Madrid Campus and jointly organized by EAE Business School and CSCMP Spain.

In the session entitled “Robotization of warehouses and people’s future”, Fernando Gómez Calmaestra, the Minor Director & Adjunct Professor of Operations & Supply Chain Management, welcome students from the School and supply chain professionals to the session. In his presentation, he emphasized the School’s commitment to the supply chain area, as a partner of CSCMP Spain and  running “the most cutting-edge program, with up-to-date contents thanks to the fact that the lecturers are professionals working in the field”.

A former student on the Master in Supply Chain & Logistics, Alberto Marina also took part in the session, giving a presentation of CSCMP Spain. Founded in 1963, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) is a leading professional association at a global level, specializing in progress and research in relation to supply chain management.

The Association has more than 8,500 members, all on a voluntary basis, as Alberto explained. Operating in 67 different countries, in Spain, it strives to provide a global and knowledge-based perspective and comprehensive scope of the supply chain, thanks to a series of events with international experts.

After the presentation of CSCMP Spain, Alberto, who works as a Supply Chain Operations Manager at Ingenico Group, gave an overview of the topic of the session, highlighting that robots are gaining an extremely strong presence in the workplace, “and even more so in the supply chain”. Discussing the benefits of these robots, he underlined the increase in efficiency and productivity. “50% of all warehouse logistical staff in the world will be replaced by robots in the next few years. This is already a reality. There is no turning back now”, explained the former student of EAE Business School.

Lastly, Rubén  Martínez García, the Director of Organization Development at ASTI, was the main speaker and he spent an hour reflecting on the future that awaits us, answering two key questions: what will the supply chain of the future be like and where will the employment opportunities be in the sector?

Industry 4.0, a concept coined by the German government to describe a smart factory that integrates interconnected processes thanks to the Internet of Things. It is predicted that this Industry 4.0 will be able to drive changes to the same degree as the steam engine in the Industrial Revolution, and mass production, electronics and information technologies in the third global revolution. There are various key factors in this fourth revolution, including “the network, collaboration, offering new solutions, adapting production, permanent assessment, customizing the product depending on the end customer, and perfect, smart, flexible and coordinated logistics”, Rúben highlighted.

PSA and Airbus were examples given by the guest speaker to show how they have adapted their manufactiring to Industry 4.0. “PSA predicts that cars will be adapted in terms of product customization”, explained Rubén, emphasizing that, in the near future, the customer will decide what the car they are buying will be like. “So, factories have to adapt to this flexibility in terms of the products”.

He went on to highlight four elements to take into account in terms of robotization: “safe vehicles, navigation, power supply and mechanics”. On this issue, Rubén used visual examples of how large companies like Amazon and AliExpress are working with robotization in their warehouses. Moreover, moving on to a very hot topic at the moment, the guest speaker and the audience discussed security, referring to the accident involving Uber’s driverless car.

Are we prepared to live with robotization? Rubén had no doubt on the issue: “culturally, we are not ready, but the technology is”. Sharing a few jokes, he added that he could not imagine the implementation of drone deliveries in Spain, for instance, nor even driverless cars in our country in the short term.

Turning to the challenges and opportunities in this respect, the Director of Organization Development at ASTI listed several such as unbranded navigation, smarter security systems, more efficient batteries, vehicles with on-board robots, achieving an M2M network, real-time flexibility and big data and the need for collaboration between man and machine. “Despite robotization, we will need human beings to make decisions”.

In Rubén’s opinion, the greatest challenge “is a matter of Talent 4.0”. He emphasized the constant search for new professionals joining the market and the need for companies and public institutions to promote STEM careers. Turning to the key factors in developing this talent, the guest speaker spoke about digital and technological profiles, the promotion of women in STEM careers and the Dual Professional Training, working on entrepreneurship and innovation in companies, and partnerships between companies and universities and business schools. 

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