Jul 27, 2020

BCG: The most innovative companies 2020

Technology
Innovation
Kayleigh Shooter
2 min
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We take a look at Boston Consulting Group (BCG)’s list of the most innovative companies of 2020, do you agree with its choices...

 The list contains the most advanced companies who are the strongest at innovation. Only eight companies have been featured in the list every year for the fourteen years that the company has been running the list; Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Samsung, and Toyota. 

When research was being conducted for the list, the COVID-19 pandemic was not yet upon us, by the end of the research period, the team found that many of the companies featured were rapidly innovating to overcome the difficult period caused by the pandemic.

The need for innovation and digital transformation is even more prevalent currently in the middle of a pandemic as companies have had to adapt to remote working conditions. Employees rely on emails and messaging to stay in contact with each other, they have also had to adapt to video communication software such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom Communications. 

The need for a digital transformation is extraordinary right now and companies who had previously created a digital transformation strategy are the ones that are better off now.

Among the top flight companies in the list was:

  • Apple
  • Alphabet
  • Microsoft
  • Samsung 
  • Amazon 

Boston Consulting Group has created an interactive graph showing how rankings for the most innovative companies have changed over time, you can find it here.

This year’s comprehensive list of the top fifty most innovative companies focuses on a survey of 2,500 global technology executives, in addition this year, BCG included a new scoring dimension, they incorporated the company’s variety and intensity of boundary-breaking, by assessing its ability to breach established industry entry barriers and play in an array of markets outside its own. 

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Image Credits: Visual Capitalist

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Jun 14, 2021

Amazon test new technology to improve employee safety

Technology
Amazon
robots
Innovation
3 min
Amazon is testing new technologies in an effort to make handling packages safer for employees

At the Amazon Robotics and Advanced Technology labs in Boston, and Northern Italy, team members are testing and developing new technologies in order to help to make employees’ jobs safer, these include technologies that help move carts and packages through Amazon facilities.

Recently the safety of Amazon's warehouses has drawn scrutiny. On June 1, the Washington Post's Jay Greene and Chris Alcantara published findings from an analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data showing Amazon's serious injury rates are nearly double those at other companies' facilities.

A spokesperson from Amazon said the company spent more than $1 billion last year on safety measures, and hired more than 6,200 employees to a group dedicated to workplace health and safety.

Motion-capture technology

One innovation being tested by Amazon, which is in early development, is the use of motion-capture technology to assess the movement of volunteer employees in a lab setting. These employees perform tasks that are common in many Amazon facilities, such as the movement of totes, which carry products through robotic fulfillment centers.

The motion-capture software enables Amazon scientists and researchers to more accurately compare data captured in a lab environment to industry standards rather than other modelling tools traditionally used by ergonomists.

“With this data, visualisations, and employee feedback, we are looking to identify relatively simple changes that can make a big impact,” said Kevin Keck, worldwide director of Advanced Technology at Amazon. “Something as simple as changing the position of handles on totes may help lower the risk of injuries to our employees at a massive scale.”

Autonomous Robots creating new paths to safety

In order to reduce the need for employees to reach up or bend down when retrieving items, Amazon is testing a new workstation system called “Ernie.” According to the company Ernie takes totes off of a robotic shelf and uses a robotic arm to deliver it to employees, so they can remain in a more comfortable and stable position.

“We’re known for being passionate about innovating for customers, but being able to innovate with robotics for our employees is something that gives me an extra kick of motivation each day,” said Keck. “The innovation with a robot like Ernie is interesting because while it doesn’t make the process go any faster, we’re optimistic, based on our testing, it can make our facilities safer for employees.”

“Bert” is one of Amazon’s first Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), and is being tested to autonomously navigate through facilities with Amazon-developed advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology. In the future, it is thought that an employee would be able to summon Bert to carry items across a facility. 

‘Scooter’ and ‘Kermit’ are two other robots that also operate autonomously, and are both transport cars. The carts are used to carry empty totes and packages through our facilities. 

In a blog post the company said: ‘By having Autonomously Guided Carts (AGCs) like Scooter and Kermit perform physical tasks, we believe we can make our facilities safer and enable our employees to focus on jobs that require their critical thinking skills. In addition, using an AGC like Scooter to pull carts through our facilities reduces the risk of strains on our employees, or even collisions. We currently plan to deploy Scooter to at least one Amazon facility this year.’ 

Amazon began using robotics in its facilities in 2012, and since then they have added more than 1 million jobs worldwide while simultaneously deploying 350,000 mobile drive unit robots. 

“The role robotics and advanced technology can play in not only innovating for customers, but helping make our facilities safer, is a massive motivation for me and my team,” said Keck. “The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. By listening to them, innovating on their behalf, and driving new technologies into our facilities over the coming months and years, I’m confident we’ll make a big contribution to our goal of reducing recordable incidents by 50% by 2025.”

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