We are on the cusp of a new robotic revolution in fulfillment operations. Converging market forces and emerging technologies have triggered the next shift—an evolutionary step in which human-tended autonomous picking carts “yield the field” to game-changing autonomous mobile robots. Robot-human collaboration is experiencing an exciting breakthrough that will transform much of the material handling world.
Collaborative, bi-directional autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are now capable of independently picking up and delivering order-totes from one warehouse shelf to another, or to the shipping area, without any help from a human worker. Warehouse staff can focus on picking items into order totes, while all transportation across the distribution center floor is handled entirely by a team of robots working in parallel with people. We have essentially “crowdsourced” the transportation part of the process for maximum picking efficiency, as well as increasing existing warehouse capacity.
So here we have two teams—one human, one AI machine—working side-by-side to execute fulfillment faster while minimizing the stress—and tedium—experienced by workers.
Underpinning this great fulfillment concept is a more general material handling breakthrough that has many additional benefits, such as boosting output, reducing worker fatigue, and raising (human) job satisfaction. In this series of posts, we will take a look at seven reasons to embrace AMRs for material handling in the warehouse. Here is an overview:
Greatly enhances fulfillment throughput: An AMR fleet delivers significantly better throughput than manual picking and legacy pick & pack solutions. Robotic systems that optimize workers and robots independently where you don’t require pairing up robotic carts with human workers yield the maximum efficiency.
Little or no disruption to existing warehouse infrastructure: AMRs easily integrate into existing infrastructure requiring no expensive changes to racking and shelving. AMRs are built with safety and navigation tech to operate in the same space as human workers.
Increases staff productivity and job satisfaction: AMRs with the ability to lift and put down order-totes eliminate manual lifting and walking long distances, creating a healthier, easier work environment for personnel.
Reduces errors in real-time: A typical manual piece-picking operation may experience up to 35% incorrect picks, whereas using a system to validate item, location and order-tote practically eliminates pick errors.
Monitors and tracks key performance indicators: Performance monitoring for the entire human-robot workflow lets managers assess the overall fulfillment process and performance of the individual robots and pickers.
Evolves flexibly with business needs: An AMR solution can easily scale up or down to meet changing volume demands and adapt to new work flows.
Lowest Total Cost of Ownership: With AMRs, capital investment is low, implementation takes only a few weeks, and return on investment is achieved in twelve to eighteen months.
In our coming posts, we’ll expand on many of these benefit areas.