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Logistics system integration and automation: market confidence needs to be restored, the industry needs to be transformed and upgraded.

Release time:

2023-12-18 00:00

From the macro level, the global economic recovery is weaker than expected, trade volume and manufacturing output are declining, and local conflicts continue to occur; China is facing a complex and changeable international situation in the game of great powers, and is also undergoing economic structural upgrading and shifting. The expected retaliatory consumption and rebound growth did not appear. At present, the overall growth rate of China's logistics industry is slowing down and the adjustment is accelerating. After the baptism of the epidemic, enterprises for large-scale fixed asset investment began to become more cautious, which directly led to the logistics equipment market demand downturn.

Insufficient demand, oversupply, fierce competition and serious internal volume are the overall situation of China's logistics equipment market from the beginning of the year to the end of the year in 2023. The reasons are summarized as follows:

First, the uncertainty of China's economic development has increased, which directly affects the investment willingness of enterprises. Logistics projects may be postponed or suspended. However, the overall decline in market demand throughout the year is difficult to change. The decrease in orders in hand has intensified integrators' concerns about future growth, prompting enterprises to compete for orders.

The second is that industries with strong demand, such as the lithium battery industry, due to excessive investment in the past few years, the rapid expansion of production capacity has led to excess, industry investment has plummeted, and some companies do not even have a new project throughout the year. This has caused a large amount of production capacity invested in the new energy industry in the field of logistics equipment in recent years to suddenly face excess, and the pressure and impact on related enterprises and the entire industry is huge.

Third, the number of logistics system integrators has increased, resulting in a shortage of monks. Platform enterprises such as Cainiao and Jingdong have entered the field of logistics technology and occupied a place in the market relying on the group's strong resource advantages. In particular, some equipment manufacturing enterprises have followed the development of intelligent manufacturing and entered the logistics equipment market across borders. They are familiar with the technological process and technical requirements of relevant industries, and at the same time master customer resources. They have quickly entered the market by forming a logistics system talent team and become a new rising force in the logistics system integration field.

Fourth, the capital market's attention to the intelligent logistics industry is declining. Some enterprises developed by financing are difficult to get new funds, and the operating pressure is increasing. It is an inevitable choice to rely on competing orders to maintain survival.

The above factors led to a fierce battle for system integrators in 2023. Under the circumstances of serious homogenization of products and technologies and the lack of prominent brand advantages of enterprises, and under the circumstances that customers are also facing survival challenges and pay more attention to costs, price competition has become the most powerful means. However, many people say that the bidding prices of some projects are too low to be understood.

In the white-hot market competition, the development of logistics system integrators presents the following changes:

First, the competition between enterprises has shifted from competing for technology to competing for strength. Because integrators want to win in the competition, in addition to excellent product and solution capabilities, but also rely on scale and strength. Listed companies have more abundant funds, stronger talent teams and more advantages in market competition.

Second, with the profit margin falling again and again, integrators put forward higher requirements for their own cost reduction and efficiency, strengthen the fine management of enterprises, and pay more attention to project delivery management, because the delivery link directly determines the change of project cost, but also determines the level of enterprise profits.

Third, gradually increase R & D investment in core components, key equipment, software and algorithms, and system integration solutions, increase the proportion of self-developed products through technological innovation, and focus on the use of new materials, new processes, and new equipment to improve manufacturing levels. Reduce costs and enhance competitiveness.

Fourth, pay more attention to cooperation with supply chain partners to achieve value co-creation, because with the expansion of the scale of the project, the increase in technical difficulty, and the shortening of the implementation period, integrators increasingly need the technical and financial support of supply chain partners, and enterprises need to keep warm in the cold wind of the market.

Fifth, entering the overseas market has become a must for many integrators. This year, some enterprises have achieved zero breakthrough in overseas projects.

What needs to be paid attention to is that seizing the market with low-price competition will inevitably affect the normal income and profits of enterprises, resulting in insufficient stamina for enterprise development. In addition, some low-cost winning companies will inevitably not reduce quality requirements because of cost control, making the project effect less than expected and difficult to deliver, which is very detrimental to the healthy development of the industry. At the same time, price confusion will also make customers question the real value of the logistics system.

1. Increased investment in software

Customers increasingly need to improve the level of flexibility and intelligence of logistics automation systems, and the development of intelligent logistics systems is more dependent on software and algorithms. With the application of more kinds of logistics equipment in more scenarios and the demand of customers for more flexible solutions, higher requirements are put forward for the functionality and flexibility of WMS and WCS. As a result, integrators are investing more in software, and software also brings clear real benefits to integrators.

In recent years, under the trend of digital transformation, digital twin technology has accelerated its application in the field of smart factories and smart logistics. Many system integrators have independently developed digital twin products, which combine physical scene with digital virtual model. Through real-time data collection of automation equipment, digital twin model establishment and intelligent analysis, real-time monitoring, optimization and prediction of warehousing logistics process are realized, so as to improve logistics efficiency, reduce cost and optimize management. For example, many integrators such as Kunchuan, Beiji Technology, Beiqi Institute, Zhongding Integration, Xinsong and Liuwei have demonstrated the application of digital twin technology and products in logistics systems, running through the whole life cycle from system planning to operation and maintenance management.

In addition, the release of GPT4 brings revolutionary changes and development of AI technology, and the accelerated practical application of AI technology further brings logistics system from automation to intelligent era. Intelligent logistics system is the focus of future development. More integrators increase investment in AI technology research and development, such as Xinsong plans to set up an artificial intelligence research institute.

2. Development of hardware products

Relative to the cooling of the heat of mobile robots (AGV/AMR), the market attention of warehouse robots has increased significantly in recent years. Among them, the box shuttle products and solutions are more and more recognized by customers, partially replacing the Miniload system, the market share gradually increased.

The pallet four-way shuttle car has sprung up and become one of the most popular products at the exhibition. About 20 companies have displayed related products and solutions, reflecting the market competition from another aspect. For example, Kuang Shi and Yi Wu jointly participated in the exhibition to realize the unified scheduling of four-way shuttle truck, AMR and unmanned forklift truck. Hua Zhang introduced a self-developed pallet four-way shuttle car with a brand-new AI algorithm control system integrated inside. Zhishi showed a heavy-duty four-way shuttle robot. Suzhou Magic Cang, which participated in the exhibition for the first time, showed AVS/RS solution with magic carpet T-AMR universal three-dimensional storage robot as the core.

Another core logistics equipment, the stacker, is developing towards larger load, higher height and faster speed. Some integrators have demonstrated stackers that meet different subdivision application scenarios. For example, Lanjian Intelligent applies the stacker to the papermaking industry where large-tonnage paper rolls are stored. The cantilever fork stacker independently developed by Otelai can meet the intelligent access requirements of heavy rolls under 5 tons.

In the long run, the application scenarios and application boundaries of intelligent logistics equipment and systems are constantly expanding, and the development trend of China's logistics equipment industry is unchanged. For the field of logistics system integration, market confidence needs to be restored, enterprises need innovation and development, and the industry needs transformation and upgrading.

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