Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Honeywell and Carnegie Mellon collaborate on supply chain robotics

Steve Rogerson
September 4, 2018

Honeywell is collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University to advance artificial intelligence and supply chain robotic technologies to help distribution centres address rising demands fuelled by rapid growth in ecommerce.
The initiative brings together Honeywell’s Intelligrated division and Carnegie Mellon's robotics engineering centre. The two organisations are advancing the capability of artificial intelligence and robotics to benefit distribution centres, which are becoming more integrated and complex, and looking to robotics to improve productivity and performance in fulfilling orders.
"It is becoming increasingly difficult to staff supply chain operations fast enough to satisfy the growth in ecommerce," said Pieter Krynauw, president of Honeywell Intelligrated. “Developing advanced machine learning capabilities and applying it to critical distribution centre applications is a key enabler for our customers. Our industry expertise coupled with the research capability of Carnegie Mellon accelerates our ability to bring advanced technology to market at scale and deliver much-needed capacity and productivity gains for distribution centres through digital transformation."
The rapid growth of ecommerce is putting increased pressure on distribution centres to fulfil orders quickly and accurately for retailers and consumers. According to research by eMarketer, ecommerce sales in the USA will increase approximately 16 per cent in 2018, to exceed $526bn. This growth will continue, with ecommerce projected to account for more than 12 per cent of US retail sales in 2020.
The collaboration will focus on developing an architecture to control and operate multiple robotic applications. The platform uses machine learning to enable critical decision-making capabilities, intelligent motion, collision avoidance and reliable sensing making it practical to deploy robotics in dynamic, unpredictable environments.
"With this initiative, we are combining leading-edge robotic technology from Carnegie Mellon with Honeywell Intelligrated's logistics and industrial robotics expertise," said Herman Herman, director of the robotics engineering centre. "In a period of such extreme growth for robotics, it is vital to have the technical platform along with the domain expertise and real-world data to push technology forward to commercial maturity."
Honeywell's approach enables continuous learning and performance improvements to adapt to changing conditions in the enterprise. This allows for the automation of more complex warehousing tasks, such as unloading shipping containers and picking packets or individual ecommerce orders.
Honeywell Intelligrated delivers a portfolio of automation equipment, software, service and support to more than 60 of the top 100 global retailers and half of the top 100 internet retailers. The business has more than 25 years of experience providing robotics for manufacturing and distribution operations and is a certified robot integrator by the Robotic Industries Association.
The robotics engineering centre develops and matures robotics technologies from concept to commercialisation, solving problems in many sectors such as material handling, manufacturing, mining, agriculture, energy and defence. The organisation has produced more than 650 inventions in over 20 years, with deep expertise in unmanned ground vehicles, autonomy, sensing and perception, machine learning, machine vision, operator assistance, 3D mapping, and position estimation.