Warehouse Robots: a Technology to Automate Logistics

The warehouse robots are a solution to maximize the productivity of logistics facilities. In a context where speed and efficiency have become essential for any warehouse, companies are looking for solutions capable of boosting their logistics operations.

In this article, we present the most common robotic machines in warehouses (including AGV vehicles, autonomous mobile robots, robotic arms, and automated storage systems) along with their applications and benefits.

What is a warehouse robot?

Warehouse robots are devices used to automate the flow of goods and thereby increase productivity. This technology works independently or with the collaboration of operators to perform operations such as moving goods between two points, preparing orders, or storing products on the shelves.

A robotic warehouse enables businesses to serve their customers without interruption, with robots and automatic material handling equipment performing warehouse operations with minimal operator intervention.

In recent years, warehouse robots have had a huge impact on the supply chain and have been implemented in many warehouses. The reason is obvious: companies that have a global vision of the supply chain or provide cross-border shipping service for flexibility and increase logistics performance. According to some studies the global logistics robot market volume was estimated at $ 1.85 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach 2.35 billion in 2026.

4 advantages of warehouse robots

In the face of continuous market changes, companies are aiming for automatic solutions to ensure the timely delivery of orders. Warehouse robots have become an effective alternative to optimize the supply chain. Its main advantages are:

1. More precise operations. Manual merchandise management carries a high risk of error (depositing an item in the wrong location, missing an item in an order, etc.). Since warehouse robots are fully autonomous and driven by the management software, they are very precise and do not make mistakes.

2. Increased productivity and efficiency. Using robots in the warehouse makes work much faster and more efficient. For example, the operator can remain at the picking station while waiting for the goods necessary for the preparation of the orders to be conveyed to him by stacker cranes and conveyors. This way, he doesn’t have to scour the warehouse to locate the affected items.

3. Gain in security. Handling goods carries a high risk of accidents, especially when the loads are heavy or their handling requires uncomfortable postures and repetitive movements. The robots perform different tasks with precision, without the risk of accidents.

4. Collaboration with operators. Robots simplify the day-to-day tasks of operators and help them become more efficient. For example, these machines are able to effortlessly move large volumes of load, allowing the operator to concentrate on other higher value-added tasks.

In short, automating warehouse processes with the help of robots is one of the most effective strategies to achieve a threefold goal: reducing operating costs, improving service quality, and increasing overall efficiency of the storage facility.

Types of warehouse robots

Robotics is a constantly evolving technology that incorporates more and more improvements to achieve new functionalities. Here are some of the robots commonly used in the warehouse:

AGV vehicles

AGV (Automatic Guided Vehicle) vehicles have become popular in the market over the past decades. These are transport vehicles similar to forklifts, but without a driver, moving in the warehouse following a previously programmed path. Their function is to move the goods between two places in the warehouse in complete autonomy, thus freeing the operators from this repetitive work.

AGVs allow different areas of the warehouse to be communicated with each other or to link the storage area to production lines.

Autonomous mobile robots

Aided by technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs ) are devices capable of performing tasks and moving around the warehouse without having to be directed by anyone or anything. To do this, they are equipped with sensors, guidance software, and digital plans of the warehouse in order to interpret their environment.

Their function is the same as that of AGV vehicles: to move goods between two points. The difference between the two lies in the navigation system used. Indeed, AGVs move along a predefined path using guided laser systems or wire guidance, while AMR robots adapt their route according to information received from the environment in real-time.

Automated storage systems

Automated warehouses allow companies to benefit from robotic logistics. In fact, automated storage devices such as stacker cranes, mini loads, or even the automatic Pallet Shuttle system take care of the storage of goods in their respective locations in complete autonomy.

Automatic transport equipment such as pallet conveyors, on the other hand, move goods to any point where they are needed. The use of these machines has a major advantage: operators can concentrate on other more rewarding operations.

Robotic arms

The robotic arms are also booming in warehouses as they simplify order preparation and help operators to handle heavy loads. These robots resemble a human arm because they are equipped with components that allow them to perform rotations and translations.

Cooperation between warehouse robots and management software

Warehouse robots are driven by warehouse management software that guides their every action. In highly technological warehouses, where handling equipment and robots perform operations such as transferring goods or preparing orders, it becomes necessary to implement management software.

There are so many warehouse management systems that are capable of organizing warehouse operations and controlling robots to perform them efficiently. This software also tracks the movement of goods to know their position in real-time, while eliminating up to 99% of errors.

Robotization at the service of logistics development

Warehouse robots are a smart solution to deal with the changes facing the supply chain. Integrating technology into logistics facilities is an investment aimed at improving results and driving business growth.

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                                                            Author Bio

Name-  Srividya KannanBio- Srividya is a techie by heart having global working experience in the USA, Europe, and Asia. She is the director and co-founder of MyXBorder, a company providing cross-border shipping solutions.