The tech world is an always-changing landscape. It brings innovations to countless industries and helps businesses thrive. Much of this happens behind the scenes, though. Warehouses require numerous roles and lots of hard labor to get customers their items on time. Now, mobile robotics is changing that dynamic for the better.
Robots are here to stay. Warehouses use robots of all kinds — both controlled and autonomous. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are drawing attention like never before. The time has come to make robotic changes in warehouses around the world.
Mobile robots come at a time when modernization is a must. The pandemic has shifted business priorities and changed how jobs are approached. For instance, tight budgets and high unemployment rates led to a lack of labor in the warehouse. Through modernization, though, workers can still perform efficiently and satisfy customers.
Innovations like RFID scanners and machine learning allow smoother operations. Workers have an easier time accessing buildings and resources, and software can efficiently track progress.
These developments are also critical for competition. Big corporations like Walmart and Amazon are getting customers their orders at warp speed. Other companies that want to compete properly must adjust to the modern world. Here’s how mobile robotics allows warehouses to do just that.
Many warehouse robotics are highly or entirely autonomous. They operate on their own and work well in busy environments. AMRs don’t need to follow a set track — workers can input starting and ending locations and watch as the robots find their way. These robotics navigate around obstacles, too, so employees can rely on them to complete the job without assistance.
AMRs use mapping, computing and sensors to get around. From there, they gather and deliver inventory to different parts of the warehouse or to workers. Their autonomy allows people to focus on other, pressing matters. However, during labor shortages, these robots are still a reliable source of work.
Warehouses can turn to AMRs whether they have enough human labor or not. This reliability leads to more customer satisfaction in the end.
Another selling factor for mobile robotics is their flexibility. Something like a robotic assembling line will carry out a specific, limited function. To maximize productivity in a warehouse, managers need robotics that can take on more work and change course on a dime.
Warehouse inventory comes in all shapes and sizes. Mobile robotics must be sturdy and have different grips to properly handle it all. Fortunately, AMRs have various clamps and arms that can reach inventory that’s far back, heavy, or oddly shaped.
Often, tasks change without warning, which these automated robots have no issue adapting to. Workers can program them, cut them short and change their paths and responsibilities. It’s an essential part of warehouse management.
As the pandemic continues and leaves lasting marks on businesses around the world, workers and managers are seeking ways to reduce costs. Mobile robots are a key way to do so. There is an initial investment, but after that, there are no regular expenses. Instead, they operate efficiently and to the point.
While maintenance costs will inevitably come up, the most convincing part is the reduction of human error. Some businesses can lose $4.5 million or more per year due to mistakes. While people are always going to be an essential part of work, shifting tricky tasks into the hands of robots is a wiser investment.
Robotics could ultimately prevent warehouses from losing money or shutting down, especially during the pandemic.
Warehouses can sometimes be dangerous for employees. Working with machinery, potentially toxic materials, high storage levels and tight spaces can result in injury. In fact, workers reported 2.8 million workplace injuries in 2019. Plus, it’s time-consuming for people to get the machinery to reach high-up inventory.
Autonomous robots can climb up storage racks and metal scaffoldings to retrieve items. When workers do this, they can hurt themselves and potentially damage inventory. Robotics provides overall better conditions to work in. Heavy loads won’t be an issue either, since AMRs have a high capacity for handling weight.
Robotics is a major step in the right direction for warehouses. They expand upon what’s possible for all types of industries. From assembly lines to robots that transport inventory, the future will only build upon these innovations. Drones are a key example of what comes next.
Warehouse drones can take inventory, scan a location, collect data and work their way into dangerous areas. They often have high-tech cameras, too, for visualizing inventory. That way, workers can process and store each item properly.
Drones are also helping with deliveries. As big companies ship items faster, the new focus is figuring out how to use drones to deliver items quickly and safely. Amazon is already implementing its plans for drones — it’s the clear next step for robotics in the warehouse.
As the delivery field heats up, warehouse workers take on more responsibility by packaging and shipping items faster. Mobile robotics provide clear solutions for lower costs, faster operations, and more efficiency. By combining AMRs with other industrial robotics applications, like robotic manipulators and inspection robots, warehouses can continue to improve operations. All this leads to greater customer satisfaction and higher revenue.