003. Automation and its Impact on Supply Chain Design with Stefano Novaresi CEO Knapp Italy

“Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of “I LIKE TO MOVE IT,” The RULMECA Podcast. I’m your host, Mr. R, and today we have a special guest, Stefano NOVARESI, CEO of KNAPP Italy, part of KNAPP Group Company Worldwide Leader in automation and digitalization and logistics operations since 1952.

Today, with his help, we will cover different challenges faced by companies and the role of automation in the future supply chain Design.

Thank you for joining us today. Welcome Mr. Novaresi.

Good morning everyone.

Can you start by briefly introducing yourself and sharing your experience in the field of automation?

I have more than 30-year experience since 11 position in different sectors at mainly in the pharmaceutical distribution which is one of the industry where automation has been introduced since long time. I’ve been also helding some top positioning in Italian and International Association like the Italian association of logistics and supply chain and the European Association of the farmable seller.  

That’s an impressive background. In your view, what does it mean to talk about automation today?

Talking about automatization, today’s not only talking about mechatronics, so different technologies, but it’s mainly to talk about data and software and of course supporting the customers, the different industry with optimization, which is one of the key elements in the automatization today.

It’s interesting to see the shift towards data and software as key components of automation. Can you discuss the role of e-commerce in the future supply chain design

Today in an era where e-commerce is fundamental for the most of the companies? We have to start with the what we can call the point through, which is the delivery to the customer and then from this final point, we have to come back to optimize all the supply chain.

Okay, that makes sense. E-commerce is indeed reshaping supply chain management strategies. How has the pandemic impacted the adoption of automation in supply chains?

The pandemic was a sort of booster for many companies to rethink their supply chain. And of course, also they bear the impact on the conflicts, has shown us how supply chain can be very badly affected by some interruptions.

What are the key challenges the companies face when investing in automation?

The majority of the respondents were focused on how to increase the throughput. Increase the throughput means, increase the throughput of production processes, but also of delivering processes. To do that, the peaking efficiency has to be improved. They were also capacity utilization is becoming a must. They order cycle time, which is of course very linked to the e-commerce again is to be reduced and it is becoming really a point in the agenda of the top management.
The availability of labor force, which is becoming worldwide for some kind of activity is really a problem.

What are the most important decision factors for C-level executives when considering automation solutions?

What point is the durability, the reliability and the uptime? It’s very clear. I mean, what you need is to have a solution which is working well for a long time and without any problems. It is this is, of course, seems to be obvious, but this can be done only if the provider of this kind of technologies can provide also support and service response, which is very fast because incident can always occur. But it’s important to be able to reply to this very to respond to that very, very fast. And of course also the availability of spare parts in order to fix a problem and so on and so forth. What I would not to forget also the point of scalability, because it’s more and more important and it’s becoming one of the characteristic for the ultimate decision is that the possibility of that amortization today is not to be reject, but it can be also developed according to the to the business plan, to the development of the company.

You mentioned the concept of resilience and supply chains.

One of the most mentioned words is resilience, how a supply chain can be resilience resilient. But we have seen that it was enough that a cargo boat in there in the Suez Canal blocking the canal for for couple of weeks and that’s put many, many supply chains all over the world under pressure. So probably the time of this long supply chain has come to an end and we have to see how to keep this supply chain in a robust way.

Can you explain its importance in today’s business environment? It’s clear that resilience is a critical factor in avoiding disruptions in supply chains. Can you discuss the role of artificial intelligence in supply chain automation?

We have some technological evolutions artificial intelligence, intelligence robotics, cloud technologies that enable the machine learning enabled for example, with the advanced vision technologies, augmented reality tools that can help In many fields.The advancements in technology seem to offer exciting possibilities for supply chain automation. What do you think is the potential market for automation solutions in the retail and e-commerce sectors?

Most of the company, they have a situation in which in which manual activities are combined with automated process. So from the perspective of a company who has to ultimatize to offer some ultimate decision solution, there is there is a potential market which is really very, very interesting, especially in a retail economy where e-commerce is becoming more and more important.

The growth of e-commerce does create significant opportunities for automation solutions providers. How do you see the concept of automation evolving from being a pure efficiency enabler to a strategic enabler?

There is an evolution of the concept of automatization from a pure efficiency enabler. That was mainly the main task in the past. It was strategy. And enabler, when elements like flexibility and modularity are becoming more and more important

Well that concludes our enlightening discussion on the role of automation in the future supply chain design with our esteemed guest, Mr. Novaresi. Thank you so much for joining us today and for sharing your valuable insights and expertise with our listeners.

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Thank you for your attention and I look forward to seeing you next time to explore together again the most interesting new trends and developments in the world of materials handling. Take care and keep being awesome.”