Cleaning Tomorrow’s Industry Warehouse:Report: Partner Partner Opinion
AMRs vital for new normal in warehouses
Commercial robotics vendors were increasingly delivering innovative solutions to
warehouse efficiency way before the Covid-19 pandemic took a wrecking ball to the
established order of things.
The disruptive technology is increasingly being
accepted as the solution to the needs of an
expanding e-commerce sector. Fleets of
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) are being deployed
in warehouses across the world to cope with seasonal
surges as well as improving everyday efficiency.
Before the pandemic, anticipating when demand would
peak was based on seasonal trends such as Black Friday,
Cyber Monday and the festive run-in. This could be
planned for and contingencies made. However, during
lockdown, these peak demands for everyday essentials are
being matched or even exceeded on an almost daily basis.
Not surprisingly perhaps, operators are questioning
whether their existing business models are fit for purpose.
Most will probably reach the conclusion that they are not.
Whether the level of demand seen during lockdown
will continue is debatable, but what is clear now is e-commerce
fulfilment has been irrevocably changed.
The practicalities and efficiencies of the AMR solution are
becoming more apparent as the new normal is established.
With more people converting to e-commerce during
lockdown as the means of fulfilling their needs, so growth
in this sector is likely to be far higher than the organic
growth which might otherwise have been expected.
Under these circumstances, the scalability of warehouse
operations must be addressed. If companies opt to
expand their product range due to new order trends,
then their fulfilment operation will also need to adjust.
For Locus Robotics this has meant having to find
innovative solutions to a situation which is rapidly
evolving. Since most phases of a robot deployment can
be completely managed remotely, The Locus Solution
is flexible enough to easily accommodate quarantine
scenarios such as those experienced during the pandemic.
It means warehouses can benefit from an AMR solution in
as little as four weeks, enabling them to adapt far quicker
to the needs of the new normal. In addition, Locus’s new
Rapid Deployment and Design (RAD) program enables
companies to quickly evaluate the ROI on deploying the
LocusBot solution ahead of volume surges, and be up
and running in weeks compared to months.
Robots can also be deployed at relatively low cost.
The cost of labour has generally increased, along with
availability, especially in areas of high density where
businesses are competing for a limited resource. In
contrast, the cost of robots has declined as the
technology has become more widely proven and
available. In terms of flexibility, operators find the
solution appealing because of the in-built ability to
adapt to most environments without infrastructure
changes. Adding or removing robots depending on
seasonal demand or special circumstances, such as
those seen during lockdown, is a seamless process, and
the collaborative nature of the technology means they
can be pressed into service instantly.
The data generated by the robots can also help
transform and optimise a warehouse operation. By
interpreting this data, firms will have a better
understanding of the needs of their organisation.
Robots can be quickly deployed to the areas where
products are in high demand, while the system aids
strategic thinking by allowing firms to increase
operational capacity and bring in high demand goods.
But perhaps the greatest benefit is to efficiency.
Deploying a fleet of robots will see on average, a
doubling of productivity and lowering
labour costs, making the ROI equation
much easier to resolve.