There’s no doubt that robotic warehouse systems serve to enhance the productivity of human workers. But some of the most valuable perks aren’t so obvious. Of course, autonomous robotic systems are the perfect option to take care of non value-added work, such as moving products from a to b across the warehouse. Combined with discrete cluster picking, collaborative robots also give e-commerce and omni-channel retailers competitively differentiated fulfillment strategies.
If you are someone who is working in warehousing or distribution, chances are we’re preaching to the choir. So, instead of telling you what you already know, we’re going to highlight some of the more unexpected benefits you will reap when you decide to make the move — either through supplementing or through a warehouse-wide overhaul. Robotic warehouse systems will:
The above list is just a sneak-peek of some of the valuable benefits of robotic warehouses systems. Here’s a glimpse into how innovative collaborative mobile robot technologies will bring your operation into the future.
1. Eliminate the long walk
Robotic warehouse systems drastically reduce unnecessary walking by delivering work to the operators in the active area. Collaborative robots can navigate the long distances from the induct to the active area on their own. They can plan routes efficiently, avoiding congested areas that can slow down travel time throughout the facility. Most collaborative robots use sensors to distinguish boxes from humans, moving past them swiftly and safely.
In the past, warehouses managers would simply add extremely costly infrastructure to their facilities, like conveyors, that would move inventory around, but these systems were entirely inflexible when it came to learning new tasks. Unsurprisingly, this often resulted in lost investments and logistical issues when it came time to scale.
2. Reduce in-aisle walks
Robotic warehouse systems typically integrate with your WMS to access all work in realtime, leveraging AI and other technologies to allocate work more efficiently by grouping together similar tasks. Robotic warehouse systems can also help keep your associates on-task. For instance, 6 River Systems’ collaborative robot, Chuck, greets associates close to their last pick to reduce opportunities for distraction.
Larger collaborative robots like Chuck can handle more orders, reducing the number of robots required in a warehouse. 6 River Systems’ proprietary AI allocates like tasks together based on allocation rules defined by customers and can even decide if the work should be done by discrete order, batching or pick-and-pass.
3. Speed up the task
Collaborative robots lead the picker, displaying the item and the quantity of the pick at each location. This directed workflow speeds up the task and reduces the time needed to train associates on the new technology.
Robotic warehouse systems like collaborative robots can speed training and even enhance associate in-aisle productivity. Keeping associates at a brisk walking pace, collaborative robots can select the fastest pick path, stop associates at the right inventory location and display a picture of the item as well as the quantity to grab. Some collaborative robots, such as Chuck, offer powerful, hands-free scanners to confirm picks, lighting the specific tote or carton for your associates and then leading them to their next pick location.
The smartest use of robotic warehouse solutions isn’t investing in the most expensive solution you can find, taking weeks or months of valuable time to train your warehouse associates to use those systems effectively and then waiting 36+ months (sometimes decades) to realize a return on your investment. Instead, opt for robotic warehouse solutions like collaborative robots that augment the work of your associates, enhancing their efficiency – so you can start reaping the benefits in weeks, not years.