How to Pick the Best Robots for Your Warehouse Operations
23 Jun 2022
Even as the rules and restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic become a thing of the past, autonomous mobile robots and other automation technologies continue to be the key to a successful warehouse management system.
For warehouse managers considering introducing autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to their supply chain or looking to expand their use in-house, selecting the best robot for your business and budget is a top priority.
As a leading supplier of state-of-the-art autonomous mobile robot solutions, we are your one-stop-shop for increased efficiency, maximum productivity and optimum safety. But what do you need to know when picking the best robot to join your team?
What types of warehouse robots are there?
As a warehouse manager looking to invest in the increased efficiency of your supply chain, understanding the types of warehouse robots on offer should be your first port of call. There are a variety of warehouse robots to choose from.
Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) provide optimal routes to automating the inventories of warehouse environments. They actively retrieve and return goods, distributing them to their specific locations using sophisticated cranes. As the name suggests, goods-to-person (G2P) technology incorporates the human element, delivering goods to picking stations for sorting and order fulfilment.
Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) include self-driving forklifts and other machinery which move heavier or larger loads along planned travel paths. For smaller loads, automated guided carts can play similar, more suitable roles.
Last but not least, autonomous mobile robots use fundamentally different technology to transport goods throughout warehouse environments. Instead of being reliant on fixed guidance devices such as magnetic tape, beacons, barcodes or predefined laser paths, AMRs need no external infrastructure to ensure success within the wider warehouse management system.
AMRs use infrastructure-free, laser-based perception and navigation algorithms to deliver the flexibility, versatility and scalability warehouse environments need. They can also be equipped with different tops (e.g. mobile conveyors and mobile totes) to optimise specific processes and enhance existing operations without disruption.
Unmanned aerial vehicles and articulated arms are also called upon for labour automation across a variety of industry sectors.
What industries use autonomous mobile robots in their warehouses?
Autonomous mobile robots have long been used as solutions for combating labour shortages, filling skills gaps and pathing the way for increased efficiency, especially throughout supply chains that largely rely on the completion of repetitive, predictable tasks.
The logistics and ecommerce sectors have seen significant uptake in automation technology since online shopping took precedence during the pandemic. Food, beverage and apparel businesses have also embraced autonomous mobile robots and their use is expected to grow further still throughout 2022 and beyond.
We’ve witnessed high demand from industrial businesses too. Organisations specialising in automotive, electronics, machinery, chemicals and pharmaceuticals are increasingly using automation technology to boost picking times, delivery speeds and customer satisfaction.
What are the uses for AMRs in warehouses?
Thanks to advancements in automation technology, autonomous mobile robots and guided vehicles have the capacity to transform warehouse management systems from the grassroots up. Automation equipment can be used throughout the supply chain, whether you wish to digitalise order or zone picking and replace traditional fulfilment tools, or organise your inventory.
Courtesy of their range of smart applications within warehouse environments, autonomous mobile robots and guided vehicles have been integral to the improvement of safety throughout the warehouse management system, the enhancement of picking performance, and the overall increase of efficiency.
How do autonomous mobile robots navigate the warehouse?
Autonomous mobile robots and guided vehicles negotiate modern day warehouse environments with ease via a selection of navigation systems but use very different technology to achieve optimum efficiency.
Rail guided systems are the most common AGVs; these travel the warehouse floor on tracks using pre-defined routes. Wire guided AGVs work in a similar way but instead utilise a wired system underneath the floor to trigger the inductive sensors used by many robot models.
Unlike the rail- or wire-based systems relied on by AGVs, AMRs don’t require any external, fixed infrastructure at all. They instead use laser-based perception and navigation algorithms to navigate the warehouse setting dynamically, avoid obstructions, reduce downtime and fulfil their roles in the most efficient, accurate way possible. AMRs operate from a centrally controlled map, which means they can be active from day one as well as easily and time efficiently scaled.
If the needs of your customer base and warehouse change, AMRs can be remapped and redeployed at the touch of a button.
LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) is the most advanced navigation system to date. These autonomous mobile robots use sensors which send laser pulses that measure distance, a 360° map of the warehouse, and AI and machine learning to navigate their surroundings and avoid obstacles in real-time unlocking a longer list of advantages for warehouse managers and the supply chains they consolidate.
Picking the best robots for your warehouse operations isn’t easy, but there’s no better way to make that decision with confidence than with a trial period. Here at Guidance Automation, we offer a free AMR trial to all SMEs, so what are you waiting for?