On Nov. 11, the 11th Singles Day shopping festival initiated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. hit a new record in sales. The Chinese e-commerce giant revealed that the total GMV this year rocketed to 268.4 billion yuan ($38.4 billion), exceeding last year’s $30.7 billion record, easily beating Black Friday and Cyber Monday, making it the world’s largest 24-hour shopping carnival.
The record-breaking sales volume results in a flood of delivery orders. On Twitter, Alibaba said in 18 hours and 31 minutes, the number of delivery orders has exceeded 1.042 billion, which is the total number of delivery orders of Nov. 11, 2018. Right on the day, the delivery companies in China processed 535 million parcels, and the number is expected to reach 2.8 billion in the following days of peak delivery period until Nov. 18, 2019. According to China’s State Post Bureau, 535 million parcels processed a day equals three times of the daily processing volume in Q2, hitting a new high.
To cope with the huge amount of delivery orders, all the delivery companies are investing more in building more automated and intelligent logistics system. Cainiao, Alibaba’s logistics affiliate, released data showing China’s express delivery industry has built more than 5,000 kilometers of automated assembly lines to ensure logistics efficiency and better shopping experience. Take Yuantong Express as an example, in the first half of 2019, the number of new automation equipment has nearly doubled compared with the previous year. And Yuantong will have more than 100 sets of automation equipment in use, and there are more than 2,000 sets of other automation auxiliary equipment such as robotic arm and scanner, which will improve the efficiency of the transfer operation.
The automated system betters manual sorting in higher efficiency of parcel operation and delivery. Nowadays, 2D vision is the common practice used in automated logistics system. But when 3D vision technology is introduced, more intelligence will show up. Unlike 2D vision system, 3D vision can measure three dimensions. Through a 3D camera, 3D data of the parcel will be captured, and AI algorithm can recognize the position data and command the robotic arm to grasp and sort the parcels. Besides, 3D vision can be used for robotic navigation, helping robots to avoid obstacle. 3D vision solution is not so commonly applied compared with its 2D counterpart, which is due to the high cost. But nowadays as more players enter this lucrative field, 3D vision can be more affordable, for example, Revopoint has been promoting its highly accurate and cost-effective 3D cameras, which is said to eclipse many competitors in providing the same high quality but at lower cost. According to the company, some of its high accuracy 3D cameras cost less than half of the price offered by its competitors, thanks to its self-developed core technology and advantageous production line.