Stefan Nusser, Chief Product Officer at Fetch Robotics provides insights on AMRs during the COVID-19 crisis.
Fetch Robotics announces collaboration with Zebra Technologies for the Optimal Optimization Solution
Together, we can transform and fully optimize collaborative picking across multiple orders, among workers and robots, and for piece, case and pallet workflows.
Today, we announced an integrated fulfillment solution with Zebra Technologies that combines the breadth of Fetch AMRs and picking optimization of Zebra FulfillmentEdgeTM. This new joint solution not only optimizes collaborative picking across multiple orders while dynamically orchestrating workers and robots, but does so for piece picking, case picking, and pallet building.
In addition to the solution being unique in that it optimizes picking operations of merchandise ranging in size from tiny transistors to 3000 pound pallets and everything in between, customers can also interleave others tasks such as replenishment into the flow to better leverage workers’ time in the aisles. In addition, FulfillmentEdge, through Zebra handhelds, can direct Fetch AMRs to other non-picking operations such as removal of recycling, reverse logistics and restocking of packing stations in order to maximize robot utilization.
While we are most excited that Fetch AMRs and FulfillmentEdge together enable faster, more accurate fulfillment and improved workflows that allow workers to spend more time in the aisle instead of manually moving material throughout a facility, we are also happy that Fetch made a different decision than other AMR providers about building an optimization layer.
Bob Trebilcock wrote an excellent article in Modern Materials Handling on Warehouse Execution Systems (WES) 2.0. Regardless of what you call this functionality, a WES, an Optimization Layer, or some other name, it will bring a new level of optimization and productivity to the conventional warehouse. Bob highlights FulfillmentEdge in this article, but also mentions other companies that are providing similar functionality. Bob does not mention the WMS vendors or integrators that also offer or soon will offer this functionality.
At Fetch, we decided to focus our efforts on areas outside optimization so that we can focus on:
- The broadest portfolio of AMRs and AMR accessories in the market
- A solution that works across distribution, fulfillment, and manufacturing
- An on-demand automation platform where you can deploy AMRs in hours, iterate workflows until perfect, and then integrate into a WMS or optimization layer when desired
- Implementing a cloud-based architecture that can leverage cloud-native machine learning tools on massive amounts of sensor data collected from AMRs to identify areas of the facility where efficiencies can be dramatically improved or safety concerns can be autonomously identified before employees are injured.
While we realize that this is a dramatically different strategy than other fulfillment-focused AMR vendors, we believe that customers will want more than just optimized piece picking from their AMR provider and will also want to leverage a trusted and highly stable partner like Zebra Technologies for their optimization layer.
And it doesn’t stop there. Just imagine what’s possible when you combine the broad portfolio of Fetch AMRs, Fetch’s cloud-based robotics platform, and “insights” about a facility derived from AMR sensor data along with Zebra’s warehouse domain expertise, inventory data within FulfillmentEdge, and “insights” about the same facility derived from infrastructure-based sensor data.
E-commerce is causing a profound change in supply chain operations as companies increasingly ship to consumers and stores from the same facility. Increasing order volume, labor shortages, high turnover, long ramp up times, and physically taxing material movement related to picking are forcing companies to accomplish more with fewer resources. This integration of Fetch AMRs and Zebra FulfillmentEdge will allow companies to transform their picking operations to fulfill more orders and the widest variety of orders with fewer and less experienced workers.
Introducing CartConnect500: The autonomous cart transport solution for large payloads
Here at Fetch Robotics, we are dedicated to consistently improving our solutions to help transform the time traditionally reserved for manual material movement within manufacturing, fulfillment, and distribution facilities into time that can be used for revenue generating activity such as picking or assembling.
The Freight500, our autonomous mobile robot (AMR) solution that moves case goods and smaller palletized loads up to 500kg, has been a great addition to Fetch’s broad portfolio of AMRs that scale from 100kg payloads up to 1500kg payloads. Manual travel traditionally done with a pallet jack or forklift has been reduced, resulting in a huge sigh of relief to facilities in an industry where tens of thousands of accidents involving both equipment occur every year.
Today, we are excited to announce the CartConnect500, an addition to the CartConnect line of AMRs, the industry’s first and only autonomous cart transport solution for various payloads. The CartConnect500 features the Freight500 robot base with an attached lift module that picks up a FetchCart, a detachable, industrial-grade cart specifically designed for the CartConnect500. In addition to the FetchCart, the CartConnect500 can transport any given cart that meets our specifications, allowing you to utilize any existing carts you may already have in your facility. The CartConnect500, along with our extensive portfolio of AMRs, can be managed within FetchCore, our cloud-based software that enables on-demand automation.
Here’s how the CartConnect500 works:
- A warehouse associate loads the FetchCart and drops off at a cart position. He/she then requests the CartConnect500 to pick up the loaded cart by accessing FetchCore on a tablet or scanning a barcode. This request can also come from a Warehouse Execution System (WES) or optimization layer.
- The CartConnect500 robot base with an attached lift module picks up a cart.
- The CartConnect500 autonomously drops off the cart to the specified delivery location where the lift is completely retracted at the time of drop-off before the AMR drives out from under the cart.
- The robot base detaches from the cart so that the CartConnect500 can proceed with the next pickup request or waits for a new request for pallet delivery, or other workflows such as recycling removal.
- Unique markers located on the legs of the carts allows precision docking during pick-up and drop-off. Additionally, the CartConnect500 can navigate under the cart from all four directions.
With the CartConnect500 and a FetchCart, customers can safely transport case goods, totes, boxes, and smaller palletized loads up to 227kg (500 lbs) within the facility and set-up recurring workflows to reduce or eliminate the use of pallet jacks or forklifts for material transport. Through our on-demand cloud robotics platform, customers can manage a varied range of workflows for one to one hundred robots in their fleet without the need to add or change anything within their facility. Once a Fetch AMR is set-up, often within just a few hours, it delivers instant ROI.
We’ve built the CartConnect500 for a wide range of workflows in dynamic warehouse environments. Some of these workflows include:
- Line-side delivery
- The CartConnect500 can autonomously pick-up and drop-off carts with pallets from raw material and assembly lines in manufacturing environments. The CartConnect500drops off full pallets of material to assembly lines without any handling from personnel at the assembly line, allowing workers to quickly and easily access materials from the pallets for use on the assembly line. After dropping off a full pallet of materials, the CartConnect500 picks up the cart with the empty pallet and delivers it back to the raw materials. The empty pallet is replaced with a full pallet for the next cycle.
- Work cell delivery
- The CartConnect500 can autonomously and seamlessly pick-up and drop-off mobile flow racks from raw material to work cells in manufacturing environments. With precision delivery capabilities, the CartConnect500 drops off full flow racks with the correct line-side orientation without any handling from work cell personnel, allowing workers to quickly and easily access materials from the racks for use in the work cell. After a drop off of a full flow rack, the CartConnect500 picks up the empty flow rack and delivers it back to be replenished so that the cycle can be repeated.
- Palletization and de-palletization
- The CartConnect500 can be used in conjunction with a robotic arm to autonomously deliver pallets to areas where full pallets are unloaded or empty pallets are loaded. Navigation to these areas is defined in Workflow Builder by specifying preferred paths, device triggers, and keep out zones.
- Recycling and trash removal
- Alternating between carts and pallets, the CartConnect500 can be loaded with a gaylord to transport corrugated or recyclables to processing areas. This helps keep aisles organized and unobstructed within manufacturing and distribution environments.
We are excited to offer our customers with the industry’s first and only cart-carrying AMR solution for a wide range of payloads. Here at Fetch, we care deeply about our customers’ needs and want to keep offering innovative solutions that transform their businesses and push our industry forward.
If you are interested in having the CartConnect500, the autonomous cart transport solution for large payloads for your facility, please contact us.
Fetch Robotics Launches Workflow Builder to enable insanely simple, integration-less integrations within factories, warehouses and DCs
After months of extensive customer research to help simplify complex automation workflows in factories, fulfillment centers and distribution centers, today we celebrate the launch of Workflow Builder. Workflow Builder is our new drag and drop development toolkit directly within FetchCore, our cloud-based software platform that enables on demand automation. Workflow Builder lets customers implement automation workflows on-demand without the need for third-party resources. Our team has worked tirelessly with customers to understand challenges in implementing automation workflows that can show value immediately without going having to go through the hassle of WMS integration – integration work is costly, disruptive, and there’s basically no guarantee that the automation workflows will meet ROI expectations. Without an easy way to test workflows until they’re perfect, facilities feel chained by integration and become unable to innovate.
When traditional automation solutions are in place, they’re difficult and expensive to change
Traditional automation solutions typically require a third party integrator to scope, design, install, and maintain the solution, especially fixed automation like conveyors, ASRSs, etc. Traditional AMR solutions often require facilities to be modified with QR codes, fiducials or tape stuck to the floor, and mandatory integration with other systems, such as a WMS. Once the costly integration was done, the project team would have to cross their fingers and hope that the workflow delivers the KPIs and ROI initially projected. And then it could be too late as once these solutions are in place, they’re difficult and expensive to change.
Based on this feedback, we designed Workflow Builder to be incredibly easy to use, accessible from within our cloud-based platform, and with no WMS required, allowing customers to have integration-less integrations in their facilities within days. This allows customers to see ROI almost immediately, especially when purchased with a RaaS model. This way, they can keep improving the workflows until they’re happy, and then integrate if desired. If the business needs change, or if it’s no longer peak season, or if the ROI isn’t as projected, they can easily adjust the workflow or redeploy a different workflow. Rinse and repeat as needed.
It’s insanely simple. We mean it.
Workflow Builder is a new approach to an industry with customers that can be risk-averse. While other solutions solve for a specific application, we’ve built our platform to be incredibly simple, scalable, and flexible, allowing our customers to take back the control and innovate their businesses themselves while gaining full confidence in their decisions.
When we say simple, we mean it, in more ways than one. Within 3 easy steps – drive the robot around the facility to map it, lay out the workflows, and drop-in device triggers all through FetchCore – you have now implemented AMRs. Additionally, Workflow Builder is so simple, even kids can learn to do it. Workflow Builder is built on Blockly, the visual interface that has been used to teach kids how to code by dragging visual blocks to create commands. Like Blockly, Workflow Builder uses graphical blocks to represent code, or in this case, workflows, within our cloud-based platform. Each Fetch AMR has multiple choices of blocks specific to that robot. For example, a block for a cart movement workflow can be different from an available block for a workflow that moves totes autonomously between conveyors and ASRSs. Say that you’d like your AMR to pick up and drop off a cart from a storage area to picking, you will simply drag and drop the corresponding blocks and determine their locations and off the robots go. We’ve built Workflow Builder to be incredibly simple to make sure that anyone can do it. Contrary to what you may believe, you don’t need a robot engineer, custom coding, or a full IT team to implement material handling in your facility.
With Workflow Builder, we empower our customers to take full control over their business, instead of failing to innovate because they feel immobilized by millions of dollars of outside integration work. You don’t need an IT team, new infrastructure, or outside integrators to create a dynamic business. So if you were worried that your facility isn’t ready for AMRs right now, trust us, it is.