With constantly shifting consumer habits, labour shortages and rising costs, there is no doubt that warehouse automation and robotics will become increasingly prevalent in wholesale distribution.
We have seen significant progress being made in this area due to technological advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Robotics. Outlined below are some solutions currently on the market that you may want to consider.
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) and Automated Guided Carts (AGC’s)
These transport your inventory around your warehouse by way of a map of your warehouse which you upload. They have obvious benefits in terms of health and safety and efficiency because they can manage heavy loads and can work around the clock without breaks, other than the need for battery re-charging.
However, not everyone has a warehouse suited to their use because they require magnetic stripes to guide them on pre-set routes. The investment needed to make warehouses suitable can be prohibitive.
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)
These are a new generation of AGVs and remove some of the barriers outlined above. AMRs use sensor technology to deliver inventory around the warehouse, and so, don’t require a track or pre-set route between locations.
They tend to be nimbler and have the ability to create their own routes through the warehouse and can re-route to avoid obstacles. They can also be used in the picking and sorting processes.
There are fewer barriers to entry for AMRs as in most cases they can be used within your existing warehouse.
Within the warehouse, drones are now being utilised for inventory management and stock counting. They replace the time-consuming task of staff walking miles to undertake stock-takes. Instead, drones are used to navigate the warehouse and scan the pallets or inventory.
However, drones are not a fully automated solution as they still required a person to operate them. Despite this, DroneScan states that using a drone is up to 50 times faster than doing it manually.
For further discussions on warehouse technologies, please contact us.