Text / Fortunately
Edit / Ran Yi
This is the number of postal (express) pieces collected by postal and express companies during the entire day of the "Double Twelve" shopping carnival that has just passed on the official website of the State Post Bureau. During the "Double 11" period last month, the entire express industry handled 1.88 billion postal (express) items.
As the retail industry, especially e-commerce, has promoted the rapid development of the logistics industry, it has put forward higher requirements for logistics service capabilities and efficiency.
As the "seven inches" of logistics, the operational efficiency of warehousing also directly affects consumer experience. In the past two years, intelligent warehousing robots around warehouses have become "stars" in the field of smart logistics: public data shows that in 2017, China's logistics robots accumulated 42 financing incidents, of which warehousing robots accounted for 34.
In fact, warehousing robot is not a new term. As early as 2012, Amazon acquired Kiva Systems warehousing robot company and began to apply it to the logistics warehousing business. This node detonated the entire market.
According to incomplete statistics, there are more than 50 warehouse robot companies in China. In addition to e-commerce giants such as JD.com, Alibaba and Suning, startups such as Jizhijia and Kuaicang, and established companies such as Hikvision and Megvii are also deploying The field.
Six years have passed. Looking back, from the perspective of the industry, there are many participants, but not every project can give a perfect answer. The informatization of China's warehousing and logistics is still stuck in the "unworkable" stage: 95% E-commerce parcels are sorted manually.
Entrepreneurs who stand on the facade of the city wall like Jiang Chao have taken a step forward. Unlike traditional AGVs (Automatic Guided Transport Vehicles), the robotic company he founded, Juxing Technology, is looking for AMR (Autonomous Mobile Robots) that can be transported with light weight. Come to transform the traditional warehouse.
In his view, the inflection point of the market for AMR to replace AGV has arrived. It is only a matter of time to compare the markets of developed countries in Europe and America.
"Above Ten Thousand Ren, push the stone of the mighty", he and Ju Xing have already taken the first step.
Behind the "China Speed": 95% of e-commerce packages are sorted by manpower
As a senior technician, Jiang Chao was shocked and puzzled when he decided to switch from technology to the market.
The development speed of China's e-commerce and logistics has amazed him, who has lived in the United States for a long time. In his perception, even in a metropolitan area like San Francisco, the average logistics speed is about one week. The speed of China's logistics can be described in his words: it is invincible in the world.
At the warehouse base of a large logistics company in Tianjin, Jiang Chao saw the real situation of logistics picking: temporary manpower drawn from the talent market, five minutes training to enter the warehouse, package the goods, and send them to the truck. In the cold wind, everyone was shaking with a few orders.
Such a contrast made Jiang Chao realize that behind the flying speed of China, traditional manpower is supporting it.
An embarrassing reality is that the order volume of Chinese e-commerce companies is increasing at a rate of about 30% every year, while the labor force working in the warehousing and logistics field is decreasing at a rate of about 20% every year.
These two data show a huge gap between supply and demand, which is an opportunity for warehousing robots.
"I'm a technology, and I know robots very well. I'm thinking about how to solve this problem with robots." Jiang Chao told Zinc Finance.
Currently, there are two main types of storage robots on the market: AGVs that deliver goods to people and AMRs that move autonomously. Choosing AGV or AMR is the first problem facing Jiang Chao.
AGV has a predetermined route, which is generally limited to a few fixed routes. It travels in a warehouse and carries goods. Once it encounters an obstacle, it can only stop moving forward until the obstacle is manually removed.
However, if AGV is used, the initial transformation cost is relatively high. For example, the transformation cost of a 10,000 square meter warehouse is about 5 million, while the standard warehouse area of leading e-commerce companies such as Jingdong is usually about 20,000 square meters, and the initial investment is large.
AMR is different. It can be like a human, with perceptual ability, can quickly understand the working environment, move independently, and accurately find the storage location of the goods. In addition, AMR can also provide more extended scenarios for warehousing and logistics. AMR robots only need a warehouse building drawing to be deployed. For example, e-commerce warehouses can increase the number of robots for high-volume products.
Comparing the two, after visiting and investigating a circle of well-known domestic warehousing and logistics companies, Jiang Chao reviewed the pain points of warehousing and logistics informatization and decided to do AMR:
"Under the system of the Chinese market, AMR will have more room for growth. Under the huge pressure of investment finance and the development of the entire industry, continuing to be a copycat (blind imitator) in overseas markets has no value. Sexual innovation."
However, in China, AGV can be regarded as a relatively mature robot product. The Jizhijia and Kuaicang mentioned above are all AGVs. AMR robots are still in the early stages of application. This is a blue ocean market waiting to be opened.
"AMR's replacement of AGVs has already begun in the North American market." Jiang Chao told Zinc Finance a set of data. In the first half of 2018, AGV sales fell by 47%, while AMR sales increased by 53%.
It took only 6 months from manuscript to reality
In May of this year, Jiang Chao drew a manuscript on the plane with densely packed parts and names. This is the prototype of Juxing AMR.
A sudden idea, a manuscript, started an entrepreneurial project. Whether it was then or now, it seems a little bit "absurd" and untrue. From the manuscript to reality, Juxing Technology CEO Jiang Chao and his team only took 6 months.
Although it seems that the final product and the drawings are highly consistent, because it is the first time for the team, there are still many imperfections. One month or two months, we constantly solve and correct some devil's details.
"Our first-generation product is like this. The design is very silly. When you squat down and put the box, your face will definitely stick to the screen. We joked at that time, saying that every time you make it work, you have to kiss it. ."
Zinc Finance saw Juxing’s AMR with a cool design, 1.2 meters high and a maximum load capacity of 50kg. It not only has the ability to move independently, but also has a wealth of software, electrical and mechanical interfaces, and is mainly used in the field of e-commerce warehousing.
Most of the companies in the industry are in the laboratory testing stage. For a start-up company, it is not easy to actually make things and put them into use on a large scale.
According to Luo Xuan, co-founder and general manager of Juxing Technology, revealed at the Zinc Finance New Manufacturing Month offline salon event:
The initial investment cost of Juxing AMR is low, and it can be used out of the box. It can automatically build maps in 15 minutes, without wi-fi network layout and server deployment. At the same time, Juxing AMR can achieve flexible expansion.
In traditional warehouses, pickers and shelves are two roles. Pickers need to push carts full of goods to run around in the warehouse. With the introduction of Juxing AMR, the picker and the shelfman can be combined into one role. The picker only needs to be fixed in front of the shelf and replace the work of product handling with robots.
In Jiang Chao's view, the "black lamp factory" and unmanned warehouse, which people generally recognize , is not the end.
The goal of automation is to improve the overall work efficiency, not the number of jobs that are eliminated unilaterally. In the process of reforming the process, new jobs are actually created. Looking at the overall efficiency, you cannot just look at the replacement of a few people.
The Juxing AMR robot can be used as an "automatic conveyor belt", allowing data of people, robots, and goods to be connected to the network, realizing real-time dynamic calculation of warehouse data, finding the optimal human and material resource allocation plan, and optimizing the efficiency of the storage system.
At the decision-making level, Torch Star AMR uses a large number of algorithms based on deep neural networks, as well as a series of "traditional" algorithms such as computer vision geometric algorithms and laser navigation algorithms.
"The purpose of Juxing's research and development is not to show off skills, but to steadily improve storage efficiency." Jiang Chao told Zinc Finance.
According to Bloomberg data, an AMR robot has a 5-8 times efficiency improvement compared to a human.
Juxing Technology has been exploring with JD Logistics. According to Zhang Zhou, Investment Director of JD Logistics, AMR robots have been put into use in 3C warehouses in North China and East China of JD Logistics to jointly build a model warehouse.
Layout at the end
Tractica predicts that global warehousing and logistics robot shipments will surge to 620,000 units in 2021, and market revenue will reach 22.4 billion US dollars.
In fact, in China, there are many participants, but not every project gives a perfect answer. One part is in the experimental stage, and the prototype has not been released; the other part of the enterprise is not very accepting of intelligence, and there are many problems in the actual warehousing scene application, such as the system is not stable enough, malfunctions, and so on.
According to public estimates, the three domestic market shares of Jizhijia, Kuaicang, and Haikang have reached approximately 80-90%. Among them, Jizhijia, as the world's first unicorn company developed from the logistics field, has just Announced the completion of the B round financing, the total financing has reached 150 million US dollars.
On the robotics track, many companies have followed the established model (AGV). As a staunch AMR supporter, Jiang Chao believes that it is only a matter of time before AMR robots replace AGV.
"In the future, many warehousing robot companies must go through the stage of digging their own graves." Jiang Chao expressed his views. In his view, these warehousing robot companies will inevitably turn to AMR in the future, the key is whether they can make this determination.
Technological innovation is the core of the next round of robotics development. Before officially entering the warehousing and logistics industry, almost the entire team, including Jiang Chao, was of technical origin.
But the business of starting a business cannot be achieved by technology alone, and Jiang Chao clearly knows this.
To start a business, what is the input and output? Who are the entrepreneurs? Where is it located? These need to be thought out clearly.
The AMR prototype was made in 6 months and the expanded reproduction was carried out in 15 months . Jiang Chao had a clear idea of every step of Juxing, and the plan had a clear timetable.
In addition to the warehousing and logistics industry, Juxing AMR's technology and scenarios will be horizontally expanded to more fields, such as high-end manufacturing, medical industry and other different fields, thereby increasing the competitive advantage.
"We hope to build up the scale first. Only with the market scale can there be an industry, and only after the industry has space." Jiang Chao explained to Zinc Finance.
In his opinion, companies just want to play chess, and if the chessboard is laid out, they must think about the end game. If you walk by feeling, you will fall into a passive stage, and you will often lose when you encounter a master.
"Before the company started, I had already thought about the endgame." Jiang Chao told Zinc Finance, "The endgame is that Juxing is AMR, and we have to eat all of the AMR category."
In fact, on the track of AMR, no company has successfully ran out to provide a mature model and template. After going from 0 to 1, the next step is to compete on who can land faster and who can Form a good business model first, and get tangible data, who can have stronger competitiveness.
Juxing AMR has just been put into use soon, and the market has not yet given a clear answer. From the perspective of trends, it is still a process of accumulation.
"In the next step, Juxing will start from technology and optimize some of the components of AMR. It will also be further compressed on the basis of the price of 98,000 yuan/unit. Now it is also in the Japanese market." Jiang Chao said.
The word "no boundary" has long become a part of Jiang Chao's thinking habits, and this kind of thinking continues to force him and his team to amplify their desires and make changes.
The story that belongs to them has just begun.
What is the biggest challenge facing the company? The application scenarios are very good but the market competition is fierce. How to deal with the challenges of the market?
The core of competition is differentiation. You have to be different from others. If your thing is the same as others, or even copied, there is no way to play. When the scale is increased, the cost will also come down and customers will form a network. , Many things cannot be done. For now, our position is still relatively good. Achieving scale through differentiated products will bring two results after scale, one is economies of scale, the other is an increase in management costs, but this increase in management costs must rely on one means, information systems, with economies of scale. We also have our own management system to increase management costs. When there are too many customers and suppliers, a network effect can be formed. Can the upstream and downstream of the industrial chain and the upstream and downstream of the supply chain be connected through the enterprise? Sending to the next party may be input. When a network effect is formed, the effect can be seen.
Regarding the mass production of robots, the production line is still to find a foundry. What is the biggest difficulty in mass production?
The most difficult thing is the supply chain. For example, if one hundred units are sold today, is there one hundred lasers allocated to it? We have considered a lot in terms of mass production. We have been thinking about this problem since the project was designed. In the end, we need someone to help us to achieve mass production. Our only purpose is to know how to produce it? How to install? How to dismantle? How to change parts? How long does each process take? This is all taken out through measurement, that is, the data tells us everything
For AMR, what is the room for development and expansion in terms of later technology or scenarios?
In fact, AMR can be used in many fields. The most basic function is handling. We still do logistics. In addition to this robot, AMR will expand to more products. In addition to the logistics field, we will expand horizontally. For example, can this thing help the automobile production line operate materials? Help the electronics factory to transport materials? We can go to production; in addition, medical scenes and banking scenes are also of interest to us.
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