Automation and Robots in the Warehouse

You will likely work with robots someday. It’s likely that you already do in some capacity — be it through a self-checkout system at a grocery store or in a manufacturing facility. Robotic material handling solutions have been around for decades, but they’re becoming more important and relevant as each day passes. Warehouse automation software has provided a new frontier for robots (and humans) to operate. Advancements in technology have led to more advanced and capable systems, allowing us to map and simulate the entire warehouse environment.

Robots in the Warehouse

The traditional Material Handling Automation (MHA) systems are now being replaced by smart robots that behave like humans, using cameras, sensors, and artificial intelligence (AI) to act and respond dynamically in the warehouse. 

Intralogistics Smart Robotics 

Robots in the warehouse help improve efficiency, increase accuracy and reduce costs. This capability enables them to work autonomously or in collaboration with other robots or human staff. Gartner talks about this as Intralogistics Smart Robotics and predicts that 75% of product-centric larger enterprises will adopt robotic automation in 3 to 5 years. 

While industrial robots are often associated with manufacturing, they are also becoming a key component of the supply chain. More than one-third of emerging technologies in innovative supply chains relate to intralogistics robotics and/or coordination of work across people, activities directed and automated (including robotic process automation). 

Robotic automation gives warehouse operations a competitive advantage over smaller businesses by enabling you to execute more quickly, with lower costs and higher throughputs. In some cases, it can also reduce inventory levels. A modular approach offers flexibility to start small, then grow capacity over time. 

More than just reducing labor costs 

Businesses today are using robotic automation for more than just cost reduction in labor to: 

  1. increasing capacity and
  2. to mitigate the shortage in available labor 

Robotic automation in the warehouse is a new method for speeding up business processes and reducing labor costs. However, this also requires a manual workforce to manage parts of the warehouse that are unsuitable for automation and to manage peak demand. This can lead to new processes needed to balance and coordinate the workload across automation and manual workforce. 

Automation Options 

A smart warehouse combines automation, data, and human intelligence to optimize your operations. With the right mix of smart robotics and conventional MHA, a WMS can be used to reduce costs and increase productivity in your warehouse 

Some examples of conventional automation solutions and their corresponding newer robotic solutions are: 

Robots

Learn more about Robotic Automation in the Warehouse by downloading our white paper below. 

Automation and Robots in the Warehouse

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