In the midst of a wild global crisis, we are making steady progress in the automated logistics sector: more and more factories, supermarkets, delivery companies, pharmaceutical companies… are using automation for optimal organisation. Does this mean that humans have no place in the sector? Not at all, as well as being one of the best paid branches of work, there are more and more specialised courses to be able to carry out this work. You have to have knowledge of mechanics, a bit of engineering, maybe some computer science… but it’s worth it, it’s the future.

Here are some examples of a future that we are already living in today

Supermarket without a cashier

In 2016 Amazon launched a chain of supermarkets under the name Amazon Go. Far from conventional supermarkets, the online shopping giant created a new shopping concept based on self-service and Just Walk Out technology. In other words, the customer enters the store, takes what they want and leaves, without going to the checkout or queuing. What’s the trick? Well, in a system of artificial vision, sensors and automatic learning that detects what we have taken when we leave the establishment and uploads it to our Amazon account. Of course, to buy in an Amazon Go it is essential to be a user of the platform.

Automated factories

Industrial robots are nothing new. They have been cohabiting with human workers for years in car factories, electronic device factories, nuclear power plants and many other facilities where critical or highly efficient processes are carried out. Until now, robots have mainly been used to handle large loads and to carry out tasks that involve some danger to humans or require extreme precision.

However, industrial robots also have many good things going for them. As I mentioned before, they can carry out dangerous tasks, preventing humans from taking them on; increase production drastically, which often leads to lower prices; carry out processes that require enormous precision, etc. In addition, the International Federation of the Robotics Industry has confirmed that new technologies make industrial robots cheaper and easier to use. It seems inevitable that this scenario will lead to factories becoming increasingly automated.

Airports of the future

Those of you who are used to travelling will surely know how tedious, frustrating and time-consuming the process is sometimes from arriving at one airport to departing from another, hundreds or thousands of kilometres away.

This new terminal at Singapore’s Changi Airport has been in operation for a year. During that time, 8 million passengers have passed through it, many of whom have not had to wait in queues at the counter or ask the staff for help, as they have used the new automated system that allows any person to carry out the entire boarding process, from check-in to check-in, including boarding.

To this end, the airport has had the cooperation of the airlines that have used the new system voluntarily. There are still some airlines that have not yet implemented it, so their passengers must follow the traditional steps, which takes longer. In fact, airport officials have explained that thanks to the new procedure, between 20 and 30% more actions can be carried out every hour, facilitating the arrival of passengers and minimising the time they have to spend on these tasks.

Hotel check-in without reception

It is often associated with facilities such as holiday flats or holiday cottages that do not have an actual Reception open 24/7, or that do not have a member of staff available 24/7 to go on site and open the accommodation to guests.

However, cases of automated hotel check-in are not common, for all hotels that do not have a Reception open all day but still wish to find a way to welcome guests even after reception hours.

There is currently a wide variety of solutions on the market for the digitisation of hotel receptions; all with the aim of: facilitating guest arrival, eliminating waiting times at reception and the obligation to respect strict check-in or check-out times; streamlining the work of the accommodation, making the passenger check-in process automatic; and of course, saving on staff costs by automating tasks that can be fully systematised.

Among all the offers on the market, check-in machines or check-in kiosks are some of the alternatives. These self-service check-in kiosk options for hotels perform various functions to facilitate the guest’s access to their room and to automate the handing over of keys. The traveller makes a reservation, linked to a pager, and the hotel pre-assigns a room.

Robot delivery

One of the sectors that has benefited from the pandemic has been delivery, which during the most restricted weeks became the safest way to order food or shop. The increasingly congested streets of big cities make small robots an effective solution. These devices can drive on pavements and reduce certain costs compared to traditional logistics. Robots for home delivery also have an ecological advantage, as they are always powered by electricity without the need for large batteries. They are a relief for the pollutant emissions of delivery, which is still mostly provided by traditional fuel vans, although commercial vehicles powered by gas or batteries have been gaining ground in recent times.

What is your opinion on this, do you think it is a positive development or will it not be detrimental in the long run?