Understanding the World of Warehouse Robots

A summary of the Freightwaves article, “Your guide to the wild world of warehouse robots”

In an interview with Jack Daleo of Freightwaves and Modern Shipper, Jim Lawton, our Vice President and General Manager, Robotics and Automation breaks down the fundamentals of what warehouse operators need to know to make the best buying decision for robots.

Labor shortages, the growth in E-commerce and the need to increase productivity in warehouses are driving demand for technology innovation. As per the Zebra Warehouse Vision Study:

  • 90 percent of warehouse operators agree they must implement new technology to be competitive in the on-demand economy and
  • 80 percent of warehouse operators agree they will have to rely more on automation in the future.

Advancements in robotics technology has ensured that we can off-load the inefficiency of walking to pick an order, and free up warehouse workers to perform tasks that require human dexterity and cognitive abilities. Planning and deploying new technology for automation can sometimes seem intimidating. Nevertheless, many warehouses are looking to modernize and optimize by adding Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR).

Some highlights from the interview:

  1. Function over form: robots are best suited for certain tasks and people are better for others. Know which is which.
  2. Location, location, location:  how much space the robot will be working in is an important consideration, as is the layout.
  3. Automate at your own pace: collaborative robots which are significantly less expensive than traditional industrial robots have democratized the opportunity, as has Robots-as-a-Service which allows customers to pay a subscription fee rather than buying the robot out right.
  4. Test the waters: look at what others are doing; and consider starting with one site and then expanding, try simulation.

 “…we’ve gotten beyond the point that a lot of companies now know they’re going to have to invest in robotic and automation technology. But they’re still unsure about, ‘where do I start? How do I start? How do I make sure this thing doesn’t fail?” 

– Jim Lawton, Vice President and General Manager, Robotics Automation

To read the full article on Freightwaves, please click here.

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