23 July, 2015 (Singapore) - Local logistics SME, Courex, has developed various technologies to add value to the logistics industry. These new offerings will increase manpower productivity and significantly lower costs for Last Mile Logistics, which refers to the transportation of goods from a delivery depot to a customer.
At a media showcase attended by government officials, academia and Courex’s partners, Courex's team of engineers unveiled a precise Kinect Dimensioning System (KDS), a machine learning route optimization algorithm and a cloud inventory management system.
The necessity for such innovation is due to Courex witnessing various inefficiencies that have become industry norms. Since 2009, Courex has seen it all through servicing a wide variety of customers ranging from government agencies, MNCs to individuals.
"e-Commerce is driving down the price of logistics. We have to innovate to stay competitive. Focusing on technology innovations to automate processes is key," says Joe Choa, Managing Director and Founder of Courex.
The first innovation is the KDS. Using a regular Microsoft Kinect sensor, the KDS can measure all dimensions of incoming and outgoing goods of a warehouse. The KDS is also equipped with a weighing scale and RFID technologies to accurately weigh, measure and track a product in less than 10 seconds (please see Figure 1 below).
In warehouses worldwide, traditional methods of measurement are imprecise and labour-intensive. Similar dimensioning systems in the market will cost thirty thousand US dollars and more. While the retail price has yet to be set, due to the technology and accessible components, the KDS will be significantly cheaper.
Secondly, Courex has developed an algorithm for route planning. This involves grouping of delivery points, to allow for delivery persons to complete their job within a specific time frame. Having a mathematically computed program means being able to handle exponential increase in deliveries. Courex further commissioned Nanyang Technology University (NTU) to build a smart algorithm to enhance its route optimization (please see figure 2 below).
"Our smart algorithm can be scaled up to handle large numbers of traffic routes. It is also self-learning and able to adjust the routes accordingly when traffic conditions change, such as the expected traffic accidents or slowdowns during peak hours,” says Assistant Professor Justin Dauwels, from NTU’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. “This technology which took us over two years to develop and validate, will enable companies to achieve the most efficient routes for delivery, saving both time and fuel costs."
Dr Lim Jui, CEO of NTUitive, NTU’s commercialisation arm, said the joint project, started in April this year, is a good example of translational research making an impact on the economy.
“Through the skilled and experienced team at NTUitive, we have provided Courex with the necessary support to maximise the potential of their commercialisation pipelines, connecting them to the appropriate technology experts at NTU, which ensures an efficient transfer of research output into commercial applications”, says Dr Lim.
Third, Courex built an inventory management system in the cloud, called StoreViva. It is a FaaS (Fulfilment as a Service) offering that allows users to keep track of their inventory levels anywhere and anytime. It also synchronizes to sales channels such as Lazada, and Shopify and eBay by end 2015.
With StoreViva available for use at a fee of $10.70/ month, anyone (from retailers to blogshops) can store goods in Courex’s warehouse and let Courex fulfill the last mile or self-manage their orders and setup deliveries with ease (please see Figure 3 below). Besides the convenience, this system also allows for the implementation of charging of goods storage on per day basis, which is a pure pay-per-use model. This flexibility and cost savings is not found in other logistics companies that charges storage by the week, even if the goods are stored for only a few days.
Courex's technological achievements would not be possible without the support of SPRING Singapore through the Capability Development Grant.
"SPRING is pleased to support Courex’s technology innovation efforts. The solutions developed are good examples of how technology can be used to transform traditionally labour-intensive logistics operations into manpower-lean and efficient processes. The development of these solutions also shows how technology innovation can help logistics companies improve last mile fulfilment capabilities to provide more value to customers. SPRING hopes to see wider use of technology among SMEs to improve logistics productivity and competitiveness. We will continue working with our partners to encourage companies to adopt and create impactful technological solutions," says Kee Ai Nah, Group Director, Industry & Enterprise Group, SPRING Singapore.
To ensure that there is improvement of the logistics industry as a whole, Courex will continue to work on its technology and equipment. Over time, these advances will be adopted as best practices to benefit the entire ecosystem of logistics companies, retailers and shoppers.
For more information, please reach out to Courex's media contact:
Peter Justin Yu
Publicist, Bebop Asia
(+65) 9003 5608
Courex is a six-year-old logistics company. We specialise in Last Mile Fulfilment for many brands including Melissa, Victorinox, Pelican, CamelBak, JML for their subsidiaries or distributors. For more information, please visit www.courex.com.sg
Figure 1, Left to right: Kinect Dimensioning System (KDS). The primary camera system adopted here is the Microsoft Kinect, a sensor with depth-sensing technology, a built-in colour camera, an infrared (IR) emitter, and a microphone array, enabling it to measure the depth of a objects. With RFID technology and a weighing scale integrated together with the inventory system, it can record the dimensions and weight of goods to generates RFID labels in seconds.
Figure 2:Clustering of delivery points with Route optimization algorithm. The picture above shows that multiple delivery points can now be automatically clustered with the route optimization, therefore removing the need for route planners in a typical delivery company.
Figure 3: StoreViva - The picture above shows a cloud inventory system that can integrate the entire fulfilment processes to multiple sales channels and therefore providing a seamless workflow.