Why Workflow Optimization Is The Future of Warehouse Performance

A summary of the Modern Material Handling article, “Managing people and autonomous robots together”

In Feb. 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average turnover rate in warehousing was 43%. That is a significant – and expensive – challenge for warehouse operations, distribution centers and 3PLs. Solving that problem is at the heart of an innovative solution from Zebra Technologies, which acquired Fetch Robotics the award-winning autonomous mobile robot (AMR) solution in 2021.

In an interview with Roberto Michel of Modern Materials Handling, Jim Lawton, Vice President and General Manager of Zebra Robotics and Automation, talks about the trend transforming what it means to work in the warehouse: robots and people working together to meet the ever-increasing need for speed and accuracy of order fulfillment.

The breakthrough comes through a powerful combination of collaborative robotics and software that coordinates warehouse workflows to reduce inefficiency and boost productivity and throughput. As opposed to traditional deployments, where AMRs are used to move carts and carry completed orders to be shipped, Zebra’s Fetch Fulfillment Solution better manages and coordinates human and robot resources so that people are doing the tasks they are best suited to do, and robots do the rest.

In combination with Zebra’s Fulfillment Edge software – a WMS accelerator – the solution provides a user-friendly application for tasks like order picking, as well as business intelligence tools to gauge productivity.

Interview highlights:

  • Why workflow optimization is the future of warehouse performance
  • How better coordination of activities and timing of both robot and human resources benefits all stakeholders
  • The role of software in improving productivity, accuracy and throughput
  • The connected workforce: how the integration of the Fetch Fulfillment Solution with workers outfitted with rugged mobile devices and wearables optimizes order fulfillment

“When you can manage and redirect both human and AMR resources together, rather than separately, we believe it results in greater productivity and throughput.”

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

Read the full article on Material Movement Handling here.

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