Smart Warehouse Systems Achieve Optimized Speed, Safety, and Efficiency through Robotic Automation

If you think of Star Wars or Terminator when you hear the term robotic automation, think again. Robots are already being successfully implemented in warehouses and distribution centers around the world. And while there are some even more amazing possibilities on the horizon, the technology to automate many of the repetitive tasks in your warehouse or distribution center is available today. Consider just a few examples:

  • Automated order picking and sorting equipment can assist human pickers to increase speed, accuracy, and security.
  • Pick-and-place industrial robots build and/or break down unit loads on pallets.
  • Robotic storage retrieval (RSR) and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) can do the literal heavy lifting portions of the operation without direct human intervention.
  • Robotic palletizers typically use an end effector to store, sort, or stack cases from an overhead gantry or other fixed location.
  • Autonomous self-guided vehicles (SGV) efficiently move inventory using sensory inputs along with dynamic software.

Preparing for a Robotic Future

Whether you are looking to upgrade your operation now or are simply planning for the future, there are a couple of key steps to take to ensure you have the proper foundation for embracing robotics and automation.

Do you have the connectivity and hardware required to run modern software? Artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data don’t run with paper and pencils. Your facilities don’t need to look like a NASA launch facility, but you do need to have up-to-date, interconnected computers with a solid connection to the Internet in order to capture and process big (and little) data.

Think about what you will be asking the software and robotic automation to do – and if not now, at some point in the future. You’re asking them to know every inch of your warehouse floors, where and how every SKU is stored, which items move quickly and which move slowly, which items are fragile and which require climate control, and so much more. And the data you gather might suggest new ways of doing things. Don’t be afraid to make changes.

You’ll need to work with a supplier to find the best solutions for your operation, as there are countless possible ways to implement robotic automation. And with the right solutions, you’ll see vast increases in productivity and efficiency.

The Human Factor: As Technology Shifts, New Positions Will Emerge

As robots and automated equipment perform the most repetitive, difficult, and dangerous tasks quickly, accurately, and safely, human resources will shift more to management and troubleshooting. The good news is, we’ll see new positions and roles emerge as technology continues to shift.

Consider this analogy: When automobiles overtook horses and buggies as the main form of transportation, jobs for farriers (the people who shoe horses) became scarce.

But the need for auto mechanics, gas pump attendants, and many positions grew exponentially. And the dramatic changes to the supply chain this industrial revolution caused benefited businesses and their customers alike.  That’s exactly what’s happening today with the new Industrial Revolution 4.0.

Next Steps

Our team of experts have the knowledge and experience required to leverage robotics automation for your long-term profitability. Contact an IndPro specialist today to get started.