Warehouse robotics: Benefits, trends and use cases
In the World Robotics Robots Report published by the International Federation of Robotics (IRF), the logistics and warehousing sectors are reported to be seeing a boom in autonomous mobile robots (AMR). It’s a fact, robots are changing the way the industry operates - improving efficiencies and sustainability, and making work safer and more rewarding in a wide range of roles across the industry sectors.
What is warehouse robotics?
Warehouse robotics refers to the use of automated systems and robots within warehouses and distribution centres to perform various tasks traditionally carried out by human workers. These tasks include activities like inventory management, picking and packing items, transporting goods within the warehouse, and other material handling processes.
These robots are equipped with sensors, cameras, artificial intelligence, and machine learning capabilities, enabling them to perceive their environment, make decisions, and perform tasks autonomously or in collaboration with human workers.
What are the benefits of warehouse robotics?
Robotics and automation can take over repetitive tasks, freeing the workforce to focus on more rewarding, higher-level work. They can also assist in order fulfilment, stocktaking and customer services, and picking-for-order fulfilment.
Improved efficiency: Robots work 24/7 without breaks, significantly increasing the speed of various warehouse operations. They can also handle repetitive tasks without fatigue, leading to consistent and efficient performance.
Enhanced accuracy: Robotics systems are highly precise, reducing the margin of error in tasks such as picking and packing. Automated systems minimise the risk of human errors, ensuring accurate order fulfilment and inventory management.
Space optimization: Some robots can track in real-time where the goods are and measure the space available between them, allowing warehouses to better pack shelves.
Safety improvement: Robots enhance overall safety by reducing the risk of accidents and injuries, so workers can focus on higher-level tasks that require decision-making and supervision, minimising exposure to hazardous environments.
Cost efficiency: Robotic systems reduce labour costs by increasing productivity and reducing error rates.
Real-time data and analytics: Robotics systems generate vast amounts of real-time data, providing valuable insights into warehouse performance. Data analytics help optimise workflows, predict demand, and enhance overall operational efficiency.
Customer satisfaction: Faster and accurate order fulfilment, made possible by robotics, leads to higher customer satisfaction. Shorter delivery times and reduced errors contribute to a positive customer experience, enhancing the brand's reputation.
Innovation and competitive edge: Staying ahead of the technological curve provides a competitive advantage in the market, attracting customers and partners.
What are the warehouse robotics trends?
The field of warehouse robotics is constantly evolving, with emerging trends shaping the future of supply chain management. The COVID-19 pandemic raised many issues that supply chains and warehouses were facing such as the increasing demand for online shopping and fast delivery. The results? Many new solutions have emerged, including robots for supply chain and warehouse management efficiency.
AI and Machine Learning are now taking warehouse robotics to the next level. The technology enables robots to learn and adapt, enhancing their decision-making capabilities and overall efficiency in navigating complex warehouse environments. As a result, workers are now able to focus on other tasks such as:
Optimisation of inventory levels using predictive analytics from robots,
Develop processes and devise strategies to optimise workflows,
Implement better quality assurance protocols for goods,
Build and maintain strong relationships with customers,
Follow training programs to operate and maintain new technologies,
Analyse data generated by automation systems to gain insights into operation efficiency or market trends,
Better handle unexpected situations and exceptions involving on-the-spot decisions or adaptation to unforeseen circumstances,
Organisations also ensure that they augment their workforce and prevent worker turnover and burnout. Robots can automate repetitive and physically demanding tasks, allowing human workers to focus on more complex and meaningful aspects of their jobs.
Uses cases of warehouse robotics
Picking and packing robots: Robots equipped with sophisticated grippers and sensors efficiently pick items from shelves, pack them, and prepare them for shipment, ensuring accuracy and speed in the order fulfilment process.
Autonomous forklifts and AGVs: Autonomous forklifts and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) navigate warehouses with precision, transporting heavy loads without human intervention, improving both safety and efficiency.
Sorting and conveyor systems: Automated sorting systems and conveyors streamline the movement of products within the warehouse, optimising the order processing workflow and reducing manual labour requirements.
Goods-to-person systems: In this innovative approach, robots fetch items from storage and deliver them to workers, reducing the time spent on searching for products and enhancing overall productivity.
Inventory and warehouse analytics: Through DexoryView platform, organsiations automate data collection and build real-time digital twin technology that unlocks insights across all levels of warehouse operations leading to reduced costs, time, inaccuracy and safety risk.
Warehouse robotics represents a paradigm shift in supply chain management, offering unparalleled advantages in efficiency, accuracy, safety, and sustainability. Businesses are encouraged to explore the vast potential of warehouse robotics, not just as a solution but as a transformative force that augments the capabilities of human workers and propels enterprises into a new era of productivity and innovation.
Learn more on robotics and automation in this white paper where we take a closer look at the arguments and the technology and explore proven solutions that are available now for warehousing: https://bit.ly/3Q1kPeB