Companies are turning to warehouse automation hardware and software solutions to stay competitive in an uncertain and complex economic context, where warehouses are experiencing long-term labor shortages and increasing demand at the same time.
In July 20211, the warehousing and transportation business in the United States alone had a record 490,000 openings, a gap that is thought to have increased since then. Meanwhile, worldwide retail e-commerce sales2 is expected to reach USD4.28 trillion in 2020. This year, the total is likely to exceed USD5.4 trillion.
As a result, software and hardware from A3 members are in great demand, ranging from grippers to machine vision systems to energy and power automation solutions. According to LogisticsIQ3’s most recent post-pandemic industry analysis, the warehouse automation market, worth USD15 billion in 2019, is predicted to double to USD30 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 14%.
These figures are unsurprising, given that warehouse automation has been proved to boost production and throughput while enhancing efficiency and ergonomics, allowing businesses to survive even in the most challenging of circumstances.
This article will understand warehouse robotics, its types, and its importance.
Defining Warehouse Robotics
In recent years, robotics has gained traction in the supply chain, distribution center, and warehouse management circles, and it continues to play an essential role in warehouse automation. The use of AI-powered robots, and specialized software to carry materials, perform various activities, and streamline/automate warehouse processes is called warehouse robotics. The following are some of the several types of warehouse robots.
Warehouse Robotics Innovations Types
Due to technology advancements and an increasingly competitive business environment, modern warehouses are being pushed to consider the employment of robotics seriously. Thanks to their capacity to boost productivity, accuracy, and operational efficiency, warehouse robots are not just nice-to-have extras for successful warehouse operations. All warehouse automation provides value to warehousing operations by automating mundane, repetitive processes, allowing human workers to focus on more complex duties.
So, what are some of the different types of AI-powered robots? Let’s look at some of the most frequent types and usage of warehouse Robotics innovation to better understand the ROI of these automation technologies.
AGVs (Automated Guided Vehicles) are self-driving vehicles that follow a set of instructions (AGVs)
Within warehouse facilities, automated guided vehicles assist in transporting commodities, supplies, and inventory. AGVs are utilized in operations to replace forklifts and pick carts operated manually. Some AGVs explore warehouses independently, following pre-determined courses marked by wires, magnetic strips, tracks, floor sensors, and other physical markers. Other AGVs use cameras, lidar, infrared, and other advanced technology to navigate workspaces, identify obstacles, and avoid collisions.
AS/RS stands for automated storage and retrieval systems
AS/RS refers to a series of computer-controlled systems that aid in inventory management and on-demand storage and retrieval of commodities. These systems, frequently linked with warehouse execution software, are designed to help with quick product retrieval and placement. They can readily traverse product aisles and vertical heights to deposit or take products like cranes or shuttles on fixed tracks; AS/RS systems are utilized in warehouse environments to speed up order fulfillment and materials handling activities.
Cobots, or collaborative robots, are robots that operate together
Collaborative robots are semi-autonomous mobile robots that assist human workers in the warehouse with various duties. Some collaborative robots accompany human pickers throughout the warehouse floor and serve as portable storage bins for orders that have been picked. Others direct workflows by leading associates and transferring loads through the warehouse. Sensors on collaborative robots allow them to discriminate between obstacles and boxes, allowing for precise navigation across the facility. They can also aid order fulfillment by delivering picked orders to workers in other warehouse parts, such as sorting and packing stations.
Robotic arms with movement
Multi-jointed limbs are used to manipulate products within distribution centers and warehouses via articulated robotic arms, a pick-and-place robot. These arms can be utilized for the following warehouse tasks because they can move, turn, lift, and maneuver items:
G2P (goods-to-person) technology works the same way as an AS/RS system. G2P technology sends things to pick stations where humans complete requests using an automated storage system. While G2P systems have the potential to provide the highest returns on investment, they can necessitate considerable infrastructure improvements, resulting in significant capital expenditures and installation downtime.
The Advantages Of Using Robots In Your Warehouse
Many people are concerned about the general implications of AI taking over manual power, yet new figures on intelligent automation capabilities are staggering and cannot be disregarded. In today’s changing industry, it’s critical to stay globally competitive and using robots and artificial intelligence in the warehouse is the way to go! Here are a few of the advantages of using warehouse robots.
Reduces the amount of time spent doing manual labor and the amount of mental strain it causes.
Robots can take over dangerous or time-consuming tasks, allowing warehouse people to stay safe while working alongside robots. Workers’ time and effort are spent on manual scanning, picking, and packing and robots also save inventory counting. Furthermore, traveling from one rack to the next to retrieve the things purchased by clients can be a physically demanding job for warehouse personnel. However, autonomous mobile robots can relieve humans of such physical activities, allowing them to focus on other order fulfillment tasks that require human participation.
Improves the warehouse’s accuracy and efficiency
Artificial intelligence aids in the reduction of human error and the enhancement of the customer experience, which is critical to any company’s success.
There are no odds of a robot performing incorrectly because it is customized and configured for a specific purpose. Because AI-powered robots are not prone to human errors, there is no need to redo a task completed incorrectly.
Accuracy in duties such as product scanning, picking, storing, and moving products positively impacts the warehouse’s overall performance. Warehouse Robots work precisely and automate the most monotonous and time-consuming activities, saving time and money.
Warehouse costs are reduced
“An average warehouse worker spends about seven weeks per year in wasteful motion within the warehouse. Due to such fruitless activities, the annual revenue cost the industry more than $ 4.3 billion.”
Furthermore, because robots efficiently do dangerous activities in the warehouse, costs for worker’s compensation for safety issues are decreased. Because robots are completing the duties instead of humans, workers are less likely to be injured.
The number of workers necessary in the warehouse decreases as AI-powered robots can complete most activities accurately, resulting in less wastage and cost savings.
Picking efficient abilities
One of the most common uses of a robotic arm was to carry goods nearly 12 feet from one location to another. However, thanks to technological advancements, the robotic arm has evolved into an autonomous mobile robot that can roam throughout the warehouse and pick objects independently.
IAM Robotics, 6 RiverSystems, and GreyOrange are a few well-known firms that have brought their sophisticated mobile robotic picking solutions to the market. With limited human resources, this adds to the warehouse’s efficiency.
These devices are programmed to follow pre-determined paths and often transfer things to employees in carts.
What Is The Operation Of An AI-Controlled Robot?
Sensors that capture information from the environment include optical, audio, thermal, and haptic. This data is interpreted by a deep learning system, which allows the robot to make decisions depending on its surroundings.
It’s even possible to interface the robot software with your warehouse management system (WMS) so that data flows seamlessly throughout the entire operation.
· They are commonly used in warehouses to deliver and distribute items.
· To improve the accuracy of daily inventory cycle counts.
· Certain robots can scan inventories from up to 7 meters away due to RFID sensors and scanners.
· Sorting parcels using robots is doable.
Opinions differ on the impact of AI and DRL on the Robotics innovation sector. Because of the AI network effect, which states that results improve with the amount of training data they give increases, one scenario is that the robots sector will consolidate. The competition will be won by whoever has the most proprietary data.
New research in the areas of Transfer Learning, Meta-Learning, and Zero-Shot Learning, on the other hand, allows us to learn from fewer and fewer examples, allowing us to generalize learning results across fields. Cloud-based AI and robots will aid learning and diffusion.
As these technologies advance, the landscape may undergo yet another major shift. It all begins at the warehouse!