Disrupting the Shipping Industry, One Truck at a Time

Siemens

8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure 12. Responsible Consumption and Production

Overview

Siemens Postal, Parcel and Airport Logistics’ (PPAL) entire mission is to develop cutting edge innovations and technological solutions in order to help enable other companies to operate more efficiently through technology that automates human tasks. The Remote Underbelt Unload System (RUBUS) is one of Siemens many innovations that helps prevent unsafe working conditions while decreasing businesses’ costs all in an environmentally sustainable way.

Authors

Summer Morgan

Summer Morgan

Alain Bao

Alain Bao

Janice Suwardi

Janice Suwardi

Adam Greger

Adam Greger

School

Loyola Marymount University

Loyola Marymount University

Professor

Jeff Thies

Jeff Thies

Innovation

Siemens Postal, Parcel and Airport Logistics (PPAL) has recently developed the Remote Underbelt Unload System (RUBUS), a technology that enables companies to unload 53 feet loose loaded semi-trailers in under 10 minutes without any human labor. Troy Greger, the Business Development Director at Siemens, said that their “actual record for unloading 5,000 parcels from a semi-trailer is 6 minutes and 32 seconds” and that “previously it would take 2-3 people between 1 and three hours to unload a trailer that size.” RUBUS removes parcels that bring them in a warehouse or distribution center by using a system of automatic belts and conveyors. RUBUS “takes the human out of the unloading environment” while increasing the business’s productivity by up to 20 times. RUBUS enables companies to safely unload their trucks in all weather conditions and increases efficiency of unloading vehicles.

Disrupting the Shipping Industry, One Truck at a Time

Inspiration

Siemens developed this technology mainly because their customers were asking them to. Their customers wanted a technology to help them unload trailers quickly and efficiently without using people because of the unsafe working conditions and the lack of productivity.

Greger said that the main motivation for the innovation was due to the labor crunch in the current economy and how much more eCommerce requires in deliveries compared to the past decades. Since everyone is doing shopping online, many more shipments are needed. This causes companies to begin looking for ways to automate, which is where RUBUS comes in. Companies not only want RUBUS because it saves money and reduces the cost of labor, but also because they are experiencing difficulty finding enough people to work. This serious lack of labor available in the transportation space and the desire to increase efficiency are two of the main reasons why RUBUS was created and needed.

Another reason why RUBUS was created was due to worker safety. In warm areas, the interior of the truck can get up to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, making working conditions dangerous and sometimes deadly. RUBUS enables companies to unloads trucks without any workers, a fully autonomous machine that is more efficient and much safer than having human workers.

Overall impact

The innovation of this technology is acknowledged as one of the most intelligent automation systems found in the market today as this RUBUS operation is able to accomodate with all kinds of parcels (regardless of their shapes / sizes). With the rise of ecommerce being an important part in today’s society, the demand for a quicker and more intelligent way of unloading parcels is needed. The lack of labor available in the transportation space becomes less of a factor with the RUBUS due to advanced technology that does not require a hands-on labor force.

With this said, this innovation also impacts the people who already are currently working in harsh conditions doing the unloading process. Temperatures in the back of a semi-trailer can reach up to 130 degrees in the summer and drop to below freezing in the winter depending on the area, and RUBUS takes away the factor of people working in harsh working conditions to unload parcels. This impact reduces labor costs, improves working conditions, and is a viable option in today’s fast-paced market with buyers from UPS, Fedex, Target, Walmart, Amazon, and other wholesalers that have warehouses.

Business benefit

The business benefits include a quicker and safer way of unloading large amounts of parcels, as well as requiring less hands-on labor to carry out unloading tasks in big retailers and wholesalers. The efficiency increase can be noted since with the RUBUS, the record time for unpackaging 5,000 parcels was a little over six minutes, while before it would have taken around three people to unload the same amount in over three hours. Looking out for the workers’ best interests also is a key factor in the decision of acquiring the RUBUS since it takes less of a workforce to focus on unpacking parcels with this technology. Companies can focus their resources elsewhere and know that the task will be finished in a short amount of time with the RUBUS in their possession. This will drastically lower the cost of the labor force and it will show that the company has the best interest in its workers for keeping them away from harsh working conditions.

Social and environmental benefit

Before the innovation of the RUBUS technology, workers were more prone to having higher risks of injuries and exposures to extreme temperatures when they entered into the back of the semi-trailer (could be as high as 130 degrees during the summer and almost freezing during winter). Today, workers are no longer required to enter the trailer and perform hands-on labor - the RUBUS is set for an automatic unloading operation that only requires a worker to press on the start button. Hence, providing a much safer working environment.

The RUBUS innovation has also reflected some major environmental benefits here because it has helped the company to primarily remove its need to use forklifts (forklifts requires compressed natural gas in order to operate). Moreover, since the new RUBUS machines are completely electric, they take in parcels immediately; therefore, making the company to stop wasting on huge amounts of unnecessary wooden pallets and shrink wraps.

Interview

Troy Greger, Business Development Director

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Siemens

Siemens

Dallas, Texas, Worldwide

Business Website: https://new.siemens.com/global/en.html

Year Founded: 1847

Number of Employees: 10000+

Siemens Postal, Parcel and Airport Logistics’ (PPAL) entire mission is to develop cutting edge innovations and technological solutions in order to help enable other companies to operate more efficiently through technology that automates human tasks. The Remote Underbelt Unload System (RUBUS) is one of Siemens many innovations that helps prevent unsafe working conditions while decreasing businesses’ costs all in an environmentally sustainable way.