A survey by US Census Bureau shows that warehouse workers waste seven weeks each year, or an equivalent of $4.3 million, on unnecessary work. The replacement of workers by robots is thus something to keep an eye on.
Attempting to decrease waste from unnecessary work has long been a main topic to which priority has been given by warehouse managers.
The minimization of waste from unnecessary work has been a top priority for warehouse managers for a long time. Given technological advancement, tools and equipment that can replace workers have thus become an interesting solution as the concern is not only work effectiveness but also safety and the environment, as well. As such, apparatuses have now been developed to ensure safety, environment-friendliness and availability at a reasonable price. The following are four examples of robotics applications for warehouse management that enhances work performance.
1. Robots that retrieve goods
While some companies still employ workers to retrieve goods, in so doing engaging in unnecessary functions, many have resorted to robots to work the magic in the spirit of influxing orders. Manufacturers of such robots include IAM Robotics, GreyOrange and Bleum. Robots take the form of automated shopping carts that move around the warehouse via sensor systems that can accurately retrieve goods for an order with saved time. Thanks to AI, humans now only work to control robots around the warehouse. For the most part, the system has been designed to be user-friendly with no special requirements of advanced computer skills on the part of the operator.
2. Automated forklift
Automated forklift is suitable for warehouses with repetitive work patterns or long distance functions. Linde is a manufacturer of forklifts that are equipped with a laser guiding system, front and back scanning, 3D camera and a warning system to ensure safety in case of obstructions and an automated change of direction. This type of forklift is used to transport and Freidrichshafen is another manufacturer that turns out forklifts with cameras and radars for the analysis of the surroundings parameters which enables them to plan the most effective moving range, process work orders, send data to the organization’s ERP system, automatically, and check in at the battery charging base.upload pallets as well as goods onto trucks over a space of hundreds of meters. ZF
3. Robots that manage inventory
Accountability problems in the warehouse? What previously took days, this robot can do in no time. It can help you keep track of inventory with RFID scans that summarize remaining stock in no time. Fetch Robotics is the producer of TagSurveyor, an autonomous RFID tag tracking device that can continuously scan packages from 25 feet away to verify inventory counts as well as identify and resolve discrepancies proactively. It makes order processing and planning more efficient with minimal human error, e.g., misidentification due to barcode similarity. Fetch claims that even though the TagSurveyor comes with a high price tag of $50,000, it is confident that customers will quickly see the difference with proportionately more money saved from reduced manpower requirements as well as damaged and wasted goods. Insight information also helps with problem analysis and warehouse layout adjustments to improve performance.
4. Autonomous Drones
It will be a while before drones are able to transport large packages to homes or distribution centers safely. What is available now, however, is PINC’s automated drone, the PINC AIR (Aerial Inventory Robots) that can scan warehouse RFID in real time. It allows operators to scan the warehouse for inventory where results are uploaded by the Cloud to either a web application, warehouse management system (WMS) or other inventory interfaces. Equipped sensor and processing systems on the robot prevents it from collision with obstacles and supports aviation in different warehouse layouts.
These are only four examples of technological applications in the warehouse. Surely, more products are to surface in the future to optimize warehouse management. We will be following them, closely.
Compiled by BLOG.SCGLogistics
References and photos: supplychaindive.com, environmentalleader.com, fetchrobotics.com