05-06 November 2019

Dubai, UAE
Q: How would you assess the efficient warehouse situation in UAE?
ANSWER: Till Dubai continues to be the hubto the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region, the volume/weightper transaction will be large which would require the vehicle throughput efficiency to be high. However, if this ratio changes where-in there is a surge in the number of transactions and the weight per transaction is less than the warehouse operations efficiency may become a matter of concern as most of the warehouses in Middle east are designed for Bulk palletised movement.

But the good thing is that the technology exists and I feel that once the requirement arises, the logistics industry will acquire the necessary technology, redesign the layouts of the warehouses to meet the desired efficiency requirements.

Slowly the internal consumption of Dubai while modern retail, single brand stores, convenience stores, healthcare and pharma outlets is gaining share in the overall distribution pie. The need for efficient warehousing will continue to increase.

Q: How is it different from the rest of the world?
ANSWER: In other major markets, there is a large B2C segment which is driving the need to create velocity within the warehouse operations as number of transactions are increasing in multi-folds.

In the Indian subcontinent the challenge continues to be that of inability of infrastructure to support high volume transaction processes, coupled with the non-availability of affordable technology (with reference to returns on investment).

Whereas western markets for a long time have adopted disruptive technologies in the mechanisation, automation and IT space due to the cost of labour being high. This has also led in designing warehouses as distribution centres for a long time.

Further it is pertinent to point out that the quality of infrastructure in Dubai is an outcome of the strict development control regulations of the authority. However, the ownership of efficiency should be taken by the developer / operator planning the property.

Q: What role would technology and best practices play in UAE in context to Efficient Warehouse?
ANSWER: With regards to best practise - Process, Functions, Flows and Security should be the core to the basis of design of warehouses.

In today’s world of rapidly changing landscape in collaborative cost centric and digital supply chain management, where cross-sector best practices are adopted to cut costs whilst meeting customer expectations with the focus on collaboration and digitisation, it is going to be about advanced analytics and machine learning. Technology will replace all mundane human operated processes and disrupt areas of material handling by using AGVs, conveying and sorting by using automated conveyors, mergers and sortation systems and predictive picking based on advanced analytics and scheduled dispatches.

In order to enable these technologies to perform the warehouse building plans, layout designs, heights and several other elements will have to be integrated and calibrated to maximise the output.

Q: What are the challenges to digitisation of Warehouse? ANSWER: I don’t see any major challenges in digitisation of any warehouse as basic technologies exist to digitally handle processes like receipt, put away, pick, dispatch and inventory counting. So, warehouse can actually operate paperless.

The challenge is in creating a seamless data transfer between suppliers (origin) and the receiving warehouse. On the other hand, between the warehouse and the customer (destination). If these two pieces are digitally integrated, then the inward and outward transactions can also be digitised.

To achieve this scenario, border authorities, shipping lines, airlines and road lines, will all have to integrate. This is the key challenge.

Q: How receptive are companies to adopting new technologies?
ANSWER: Adoption of technology is generally not by choice, it is the necessity arising out of human limitations that leads to adoption of technology.

Large and very large organisations / operations continue to be receptive and are always willing to pilot new / disruptive technologies. The challenge continues to remain in the medium and small enterprise segment, where conventional manual processes are seen as convenience and perhaps cost effective.

Technology companies should be encouraged to focus on such segments so that devices and systems can easily be penetrated in this very large segment, which will then make technology affordable (cost effective) which could then prove itself to be convenience.

Q: What kind of new technologies do you think will be adopted in the near future?
ANSWER: Physical side –
AGVs, Automated case storage and case retrieving system, Product-to-Picker picking systems, conveying and sortation systems, Pallet shuttles, Automated packaging & kitting.

Planning side –
The key drivers to technology will be advanced analytics and machine learning.

Q: What do you think about platforms as 'Supply Chain & Logistic – Arabia’s” contribution to the growth of Supply Chain, Logistic & Infrastructure solution in UAE?
ANSWER: SC Arabia is an event which is focused on providing solutions to various challenges being faced in the ever-growing complexity in the supply chain by assembling a pool of experienced practitioners, solution providers and thought leaders, who will discuss and provide valuable insights through a well-thought out agenda.

This will benefit a large cross section of attendees at their work place/businesses.