The main news
- High-resolution cameras, pressure sensors, navigation lasers and acoustic warning detectors allow automated equipment to run warehouses efficiently and autonomously.
- Robotics offers improved efficiency for both warehouse capacity and predictive supply chain management.
- After making major investments in automated fulfillment centers, Amazon saw a 50% increase in capacity compared to facilities that did not use robotics.
The latest Information Services Group (ISG) study It suggests something big is happening: 72 percent of information services (IS) enterprises plan to increase their investment in robotics by the end of 2019. why? Because automation and IS are a natural fit.
Leading companies around the world have started using robotics to increase their warehouse efficiency and forecasting capabilities. And the price-to-performance ratio associated with robotics technology means its use will continue to expand.
Advantages of automation
New automated technologies are game-changers. Until recently, robotic devices were static and unable to visually interact with their environment or respond to unpredictable inputs. Today, robots are mobile and collaborative. High-resolution cameras, pressure sensors, navigation lasers and acoustic warning detectors allow automated equipment to run warehouses efficiently and autonomously.
Recent technological advances include software that can cause a robot to temporarily stop moving if it encounters an unexpected object or input, meaning these devices can safely work alongside humans. While earlier robots were primarily used to move objects from one place to another, recent technologies can enhance tasks from handling goods to assembly, assembly and packaging.
Industry leaders have invested in automated warehouse management systems (WMS) with undeniable results. After making major investments in automated fulfillment centers, Amazon saw a 50% increase in capacity compared to facilities that did not use robotics. Even Amazon got it The company that creates the robotsAmazon’s belief that continuous automated manufacturing and development of technology will play a major role in their future.
JD.comChina’s largest online retailer has gone even further. Located in the world’s first fully automated e-commerce warehouse, JD’s 43,000 square feet of 20 industrial robots enable the company to serve more than 1 billion customers same-day and next-day. A typical warehouse of that size requires about 500 workers, while JD employs only 5.
Streamlining operational staff pays big. On average, a warehouse worker wastes nearly 7 weeks per year on unnecessary activities, adding up to $4.3 billion in total labor costs. For employees, simply walking through the warehouse takes up 50% of their time placing orders and checking inventory. Coupled with the potential for human error, robots excel in the “when?” It begs the question. “if so?” Instead, automation will become the new norm in parcel sorting centers and distribution centers.
The robotics revolution is already underway. One of the most widespread and effective uses of robots in warehousing is the automated guided vehicle (AGV). These self-driving vehicles are making expensive, single-use equipment such as conveyor belts and large loading vehicles obsolete. Battery management systems send AGVs to their charging ports when needed, maximizing their operational efficiency. AGVs can be voice-guided or programmed to deliver commands, guided by physical markers, magnets and vision systems. In addition to navigating the warehouse floor faster and more efficiently than human workers, AGVs can lift and transport very heavy weights, allowing them to bring in a large number of orders at the same time.
The benefits of AGVs go deeper than warehouse efficiency, however, and extend to logistics operations as well. AGVs track and update inventory records in real time as they pick up orders. Traditionally, the sheer volume of data involved in running supply chains creates inefficiencies and requires additional staff to manage production levels and process orders. The AGV integrates these functions into a streamlined operation, as it can retrieve items immediately upon receipt of order data and update inventory levels in real time, as well as automate purchases. This allows for improved forecasting and faster inventory replenishment.
Effi- BOT & Sawyer
That’s great in theory. But how does it work in practice?
DHL handled the package using robots. To help employees with repetitive and physically demanding tasks. Effi-BOT, an AGV that monitors workers at DHL warehouses, has taken over the physical work of picking up orders. The use of Effi-BOT has enabled DHL to move from a single-order picking to a multi-order model, and helps track complex inventory dynamics.
Another robot, Sawyer, demonstrated how automation can be used in flexible ways to handle the buying and ordering patterns involved in e-commerce. Sawyer’s collaboration capabilities allow it to handle repetitive aspects of the collaborative packaging process. By adding Sawyer to its existing workforce, DHL was able to use the robot to dynamically adjust to unknown order data.
Inventory and performance data typically generated by tools like Sawyer and Effi-BOT are aggregated into a dashboard that supply chain managers can use to check inventory levels and evaluate automated requests sent from robotic devices to purchasing departments. By integrating real-time data with automated tools, dashboards can make larger and larger parts of the supply chain visible, allowing managers to pinpoint the source of problems, such as a delayed order from a supplier’s factory.
Robotics therefore provides improved efficiency for both warehouse capacity and predictive supply chain management. While the regulatory policies surrounding the use of robotics in the workplace are still uncertain, there is no doubt that automation is reshaping the supply chain. The successful companies of the future will be those that find ways to benefit from the new robotics technology of today.