The use of robots in warehouses at Amazon and Walmart are well known, but there are many other warehousing and logistics challenges that robots are addressing. Here we look at some of the warehousing problems that robots are providing the solutions to:
Picking with co-bots
Automated picking is widely used, as shown by the collaborative robots (or cobots) deployed alongside human workers at the GEODIS e-fulfillment centre. Up to 6 cobots are assigned to each human worker to speed up the picking of items, with another cobot then taking the completed order back to the packing station.
Until recently, unloading from trucks had proved difficult for robots due to the unpredictable size of the contents. Using suction and more sensitive handling arms makes this a growth area for the immediate future.
Deploying robots in environments which are hostile to humans help companies overcome challenges. In cold storage, for example, their deployment can maintain productivity in refrigerated rooms, handle chilled and frozen items more efficiently, reduce waste and achieve energy savings.
Advances in computer vision, artificial intelligence, deep learning and mechanics mean that robots are increasingly able to tackle tasks that previously were beyond them.
Our View – Productivity Driven
Liz Reid, MD at RNR Robot Solutions, highlighted the main drivers behind this spread of automation in the warehousing and logistics sector: “Our clients tell us that potential labour supply problems, together with the need to constantly improve operational efficiency mean robots are seen as practical solutions even for small and medium sized businesses – not just the giants like Amazon.”
She went on to add “As some applications can be programmed in a short time, sometimes even as quickly as 10 minutes, we’re predicting a dramatic increase in the number of robotic applications in warehouses over the next two to three years.”
A recent report predicts that by 2025, there will be more than 4 million robots in use in 50,000 warehouses across the world – up from just 5,000 locations in 2018.
To find out how introducing automation can help improve your productivity, ask Liz by how much she could improve your warehousing efficiency.