Autonomous Warehouse Robots Help Alleviate Fulfillment Strain
| By: Kevin Haupt
The holiday season is upon us and consumer shopping is reaching peak levels even as we witness global goods shortages. In the U.S., Black Friday is starting to resemble Cyber Monday in that most of the deals can also be found online. Because of this, retailers are increasingly concerned about the rising cost of order fulfillment and logistics. By supplementing some of the human employees with robots, retailers can minimize the impact of labor shortages while managing costs and fulfillment times more effectively.
Demand for Labor is Outpacing Supply
As we know, the pandemic affected a lot of employees throughout the supply chain due to factory shut downs and safety concerns while performing routine job functions with social distancing guidelines. Many manufacturers and fulfillment companies created innovative solutions to get products to their customers during this time of need while keeping employees safe.
Even as we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, companies are struggling to hire adequate staffing to meet the surge in demand. Workers are also reluctant to go back to a traditional office, factory or warehouse where they may feel unsafe. Automation solutions are the key to effectively support growing ecommerce trends.
Consumer Spending is Up Even With Higher Prices
With government stimulus packages and pent up demand driving a surge in spending, retailers are struggling to maintain inventory. This has been compounded by a staffing shortage at U.S. shipping ports which means goods are facing long wait times before they can be offloaded. While many tasks may still need a degree of human oversight, some of the more laborious or repetitive functions can be adapted to operate autonomously.
How Automation Can Help Bridge the Gap
Robotics and automation for warehouse and logistic applications continue to grow – the past eighteen months, in particular, being fueled by the pandemic. Gartner Inc. forecasts that demand for robotic systems that deliver goods to human workers will quadruple through 2023. Companies within each stage of the fulfillment process can benefit from investments in automation.
Using a grocery store as an example, automation can help manage inventory, restock shelves, process sales and bag items, or even deliver groceries. Managing inventory manually can be tedious for large grocers and is prone to human error. Simbe Robotics has created a bot that can navigate autonomously through a grocery store to scan shelves and report on price and inventory data while freeing up employees’ time for more engaging tasks. Last mile delivery bots are also being tested by a handful of companies – Nuro, Starship, Postmates, Amazon and more – to address the growing demand for transporting small packages over short distances.
There are many solutions that address the middle of the supply chain as well such as automated and intelligent conveyors, pickers and transport within warehouse facilities. By shifting routine work onto robots, employers can increase supply chain stability, develop safer working conditions and build a sustainable, collaborative workforce.
What is Driving Autonomous Warehouse Robots?
As a high volume manufacturer, MinebeaMitsumi understands the importance of automated production processes. Our motion control components – stepping and DC motors – deliver high performance, precise movement for robotic automation applications. We are also developing new technology to address demands for improved efficiency and integrated solutions such as in-wheel and out-wheel drive motors and hybrid motors with grippers. These new motors allow designers to achieve more compact AGVs that can be customized to optimize performance. Innovation drives us – learn more about how we are driving the future of automated solutions and robotics.
This article was originally published at The Rise of Autonomous Warehouse Robots on November 29, 2021.