Robotic Automation is Surging. This is How AI is Changing the Game.

5 min read
April 5, 2023

AI, sensors, and WMS software enable robots to operate autonomously in warehouses

The implementation of robotic automation in warehouses is surging, due to innovations in AI and IoT technology for automated robotics. Companies that utilize robotics to support their warehouses in the supply chain are delighted with the results, as effective automation can yield numerous benefits. Improved sensors and response capabilities, combined with the integration of AI and machine learning, as well as the implementation of warehouse management system (WMS) software, enable robots to operate autonomously within warehouses.

Supply Chain Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

AI and machine learning refers to a computer's ability to execute cognitive functions such as learning, reasoning, and problem-solving. Augmentation and automation are the two categories for AI applications in the supply chain. Augmentation assists humans in their daily tasks, while automation functions without human interference.

Better sensors and response capabilities have allowed robots to operate safely in warehouses. Robots are equipped with visual, auditory, thermal, and optical sensors to perceive their surroundings. When paired with AI and machine learning, the data from these sensors allow robots to make decisions based on input from their surroundings.

WMS software forms the hub of warehouse operations, where information flows seamlessly from sales channels to order fulfillment systems, picking, and packing. Accurate inventory data is needed to benefit from the use of robots optimally. 

Warehouse Robotic Automation

Different types of robots could work in warehouses, such as Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), and Aerial Drones. AGVs and AGCs transport inventory around the warehouse, while AMRs use sensor technology to deliver inventory and create their routes based on the operation needed. Aerial drones have been used for package delivery in some cases. Aerial drones are also being utilized to complete inventory functions within the warehouse. 

Warehouse robotic automation is surging because it can significantly increase efficiency in warehouse operations. By integrating new technological developments such as AI, IoT, and better sensors, robots can operate autonomously and make decisions based on input from their surroundings. This leads to increased speed, accuracy, and safety in warehouse operations.

Robots can work around the clock, improving warehouse efficiency and reducing costs. For example, automated guided vehicles (AGVs) can work nights and weekends at the same cost as operating during the day while only requiring minutes to recharge. They spend little time out of commission, resulting in more productive working hours.

Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can also create their routes based on the operation needed, reroute when necessary, and avoid obstacles in their environment. They offer efficiency, accuracy, and security during the sorting process, leading to a higher level of inventory accuracy. In addition, counting robots like the TagSurveyor can scan inventory from up to 25 feet away thanks to RFID sensors and scanners. This allows warehouses to know their inventory count every day, which results in more accurate inventory data and actively discourages inventory theft.

Overall, robotic warehouse automation can lead to a more streamlined and efficient warehouse operation, resulting in cost savings and increased productivity.

What is the right technology for robotics?

Choosing the right warehouse management technology  for a robotic implementation requires careful consideration of several factors. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Integration with Robotics: Look for warehouse management software  that has a proven track record of integrating with robotic systems. The system should be able to communicate with the robots and robotic execution systems and provide real-time data on inventory and orders. The system should be able to allocate orders across automated and manual processes based on inventory, capacity, and capabilities. 
  • Scalability: Choose a platform that can scale as your business grows. The WMS should be able to handle increased order volumes and be flexible enough to accommodate changes in your warehouse layout and processes with both robotic and non-robotic functions.
  • Ease of Use: User-friendly technology is essential for a successful robotic implementation. The software should be easy to navigate, and the user interface should be intuitive. The WMS should be able to integrate all data points across multiple robotics and automation systems in the warehouse to provide a centralized view and management.  
  • Customization: Look for a WMS that can be customized to meet the specific needs of your warehouse. Customization options should include creating custom reports and workflows, providing all functions in a centralized view and decentralized data and execution.
  • Support and Training: Ensure the technology and integration  providers offers comprehensive support and training to ensure your team can use the software effectively.

Who to Include on your Robotics Implementation Team 

In terms of the team, it is important to have a mix of technical and operational expertise. The team should include:

  • Project Manager: A project manager is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the supply chain and warehouse technology to ensure that it meets the needs of the business and its customers.
  • IT Support: IT support is necessary to handle any technical issues that may arise during the implementation process.
  • Operations: Operations personnel are critical to the success of the implementation. They can provide insight into the day-to-day operations of the warehouse and help identify areas where automation can be most beneficial.
  • Robotic Systems Expert: Have someone who is knowledgeable about robotic systems to help ensure a smooth integration between the WMS and the robots.
  • Training and Support: Finally, it is important to have team members who can provide training and support to ensure that all users are comfortable with the new system.

Robotics Expertise, Strategy, and Deployment Process

Osa has extensive experience in implementing robotic warehouses and has become a leader in the industry. We use software solutions powered by AI to create customized solutions for our clients.

When implementing a robotic warehouse, Osa Commerce follows a process that includes these steps:

  • Needs Analysis: Osa starts by analyzing the client's current warehouse system and identifying the areas where automation can be introduced to increase efficiency and reduce costs.
  • Solution Design: Based on the needs analysis, we design a customized solution with the right hardware and software mix to meet the client's needs. Our team will  also identify the right robots and automation technology to use.
  • System Integration: Osa integrates robotic warehouse solutions into the client's warehouse management system (WMS) to ensure seamless operation. It also includes dynamically and efficiently managing work flow releases based on resource utilization and capacity across automated and manual processes. 
  • Testing and Deployment: Osa will conduct extensive testing to ensure the robotic warehouse system functions as intended. Prior to n deployment of the system, all warehouse staff will be trained on how to operate and use all robotic systems. 
  • Support and Maintenance: Osa will provide ongoing support and maintenance to ensure that deployed  robotic warehouse systems and solutions continue to operate smoothly and efficiently.

Osa has successfully implemented robotic warehouses for clients in various industries, including retail, consumer goods, and manufacturing. We have helped our clients increase efficiency, reduce labor costs, and improve order accuracy across multiple types of Robotics systems - Person to Goods, Goods to Person.

Are you ready to take your robotic automation to the next level? Reach out to one of our experts to learn how we can help.

Osa Commerce 2023 Supply Chain Predictions

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