Autonomous Mobile Robots high performing sortation, order fulfillment, and returns technologies
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) high performing sortation, order fulfillment, and returns applications and technologies.
Each one of these technologies have a place within the warehouse and distribution ecosystem. Many times, it will be a combination of these technologies working in the same application or facility. The key is determining the RightFIT.
AMR robotics, the tremendous drop in cost and increase in functionality and reliability over the last 10 years has brought us to where we are today.
Some of the top challenges 30% growth in retail and ecommerce sales in 2020. A survey of the top 1000 retailer executives revealed 24% felt they had to many order errors. 16% lack of budget which plays well for AMRs solutions because of their cost effectiveness. 30% had inaccurate inventory information. An increase of 45% in online holiday shopping certainly added to the complexity. Amazingly 59% of the still do not offer BOPIS or curbside pickup. This is a real opportunity if you are one of those 59%. 30% of holiday volume went through pop up ecommerce distribution centers. Pop-Up DCs, this type of agility, and flexibility is uniquely an AMR asset.
So, we need to use the efficiency of the AMR to really drive your business.
Floor Sortation System for Gaylord and Bin Sortation.
Some of the features and benefits of the floor sortation system include: Up to a 77 lbs. capacity, 1,000 sorts per hour per workstation and the system will reduce your labor requirements by up to 2/3. This system is great for rapid deployment and is available in crossbelt or tilt tray models.
This type of system is available with a crossbelt or tilt tray versions… On the image to the right, the orange equipment is the critical component to an induction station. It supports a camera or scanner above the bot’s position. It is reading a barcode that the operator places on the top facing up. The camera reads the label, and the bot takes off to deliver to its assignment.
This video gives you a good idea of how the technology operates. Straight ahead you can see them in ducting items. They simply place a piece facing up. The camera reads it in milliseconds and the bot races to its location. The bots intelligence, controls and software are constantly speeding up, slowing down, and turning to optimize speed and eliminate conflict. One of the things that make this solution so great is the last lack of required infrastructure. You can expand or change in a matter of minutes. Likewise, when the gaylords are full, another AMR can come by, pick them up and deliver them to the next location and deliver an empty gaylord to continue the operation.
On the left, let us look at the handling of polybags and soft packaged goods video. As you can see, this is an automated conveyor induction we can also use robotic induction. The bot inducts, positions, and moves. There are always bots queued ready for the next sort.
Looking at this floor plan, this gives you an idea of a high quantity bin sortation system. You have induction stations on the left-hand sides and the right-hand side, Packing stations in the front and bins or gaylords in the center. The sortation bots are inducted, and they travel and deposit the item into the correct bin and return in the queue for the next order. When a bin is completed, the transferring robots will pick them up and deliver them to a packing station or their next zone or destination. Another transfer bot will immediately take an empty bin to the open position to continue the order. The packing stations complete their operations and then the transfer bot takes it to shipping and the next order needing packing is presented to the operator. This process repeats throughout the day.
Here are few more smaller layouts and applications. To the left is the equivalent to the video we saw. All bins or gaylords are on the perimeter and the bots move through the center floor. The right-side images illustrate how you can relieve the stress from your current crossbelt or conveyor system. Items are diverted to the two AMR workstations on the right. They are inducted and sorted to the gaylords.
The high-speed table sortation system is the next generation put wall for retail, ecommerce, omnichannel and micro-fulfillment solution. The system is a dual level table with robots and induction on both levels simultaneously. The two levels can work independently or as one system.
You have bulk storage coming in from the left and being fed to decanting and the induction stations in front of it. The sortation fingers have totes, shippers or gaylords positioned on the top and bottom. This modest system can have 400 available orders.
The operators induct an item, and the bots quickly move to their open order. The number of fingers expand, or contract based on your operations level. Shortly we will see a video shortly so you can better grasp the speed and ease.
Table AMRs features and benefits. This AMR system will provide you with a 75% reduction in floor space while reducing labor by two thirds accuracy rates near perfect. A rapid return on investment. It minimizes the capex and provides full asset utilization, and it easily scales to meet needs.
We start off with the operator inducting items. He puts it on the bot, with the barcode up, the system reads the code and takes off… you can also use robotic arms, conveyor and even an A-Frame for induction.
In addition to having the Tilt Tray, we have a crossbelt model. The bots are inducted just like the Tilt Tray models. The bots travel and position themselves in front of their order position and deposit the item into the tote or Gaylord. They then go back into the queue for the next order. It’s a continuous cycle.
There are a full range of applications for the table sorter, returns, order fulfillment, ecommerce, central retail facilities, the retail operations backroom… because these tables can literally fold up. Think of a ping pong table, but with two levels. You can use them in the back room or receiving area on the third shift. You can open them, populate them with bots in minutes. Then put them away before the morning workers start.
They are very, very flexible, using them in a micro fulfillment center, consolidation, parcel sortation, store replenishment, large and small distribution centers. It can be a small or very large system depending on your needs.
Speaking of micro fulfillment solutions. The top illustration shows how it would be configured in a store based micro-fulfillment center, it is very condensed…, we can keep it to one finger. Orders fill on the perimeter and when done an operator or bot will move it to packing. You can see how many totes and orders you can have on both levels of the perimeter.
Likewise, if you are doing a central DC, for micro fulfillment, you could then integrate an ASRS system, which we will be discussing soon, to constantly feed inventory to induction. operators then put a bow on top of the bots and the bots go down one of the fingers and the positive in the open order. Very, very fast, very, very efficient.
This system is unique because of the functionality of the AMR and the fact that you can often you are your existing rack which helps reduce costs and improves the return on investment. This system can utilize over 16 tall. Perfect for urban areas. You can also use a multiple level mezzanine to cube out the rest of your available height. Every bot can hold up to five totes at a time to reduce travel time. The rack can be single or double deep for extra density. Your throughput can be up to 2 ½ times and this can be increased based on bots and workstations. All walk and search time is eliminated to save 50% and more on labor with near perfect accuracy.
The tote to person AMR-AS/RS system. The bot once goes up and down the aisles. It retrieves totes with its telescopic arms. The bot will store up to 5 totes on itself. Then it travels to its destination… a workstation, conveyor, other equipment induction. And one of the keys is one-meter aisles for high density.
I mentioned earlier how you can use multiple mezzanine levels to maximize a buildings cube. Here we show three levels with different bots and applications feeding each level until you get to the bottom and pack out.
When you have higher ceilings, that you need to optimize immediately we have another Tote and case AMR-AS/RS system.
This high-density AS/RS-AMR system will span up to 39 feet tall and provide up to 550 lines per hour, eliminate up to two thirds of your labor. A central human monitoring system provides 24-7-365 coverage. If a bot has any anomaly, a human being sees it, and transparently solves or flags the issue. The rack can be configured in single or double deep storage. And we can integrate robotics to eliminate the human labor and additional AMRs or conveyor to transport to the next destination. This system compares in density, very favorably to cube type storage systems but with faster order turnaround times. If you pick and ship orders in the same day, you owe it to yourself to review this technology.
As you can see, the bots travel horizontally and vertically up the rack. When they get to their position, they extract a tote onto the bot and deliver it to the workstation for picking. When picked, it stores the tote and moves to the next pick.
In this animation you can see the primary component is non-powered rack… just rack. Perfect for reliability and flexibility. The next major component is the AMR that does most of the work. The beauty of this system is the scalability. You can add workstations, add rack, add AMRs, as the system grows. And this system does not go down while you’re making modifications. Its fluid and constant keeping your business running without downtime.
This type of goods to person order fulfillment system was made famous years ago by Kiva and purchased and used to this day by Amazon. This system has advanced dramatically since those days to provide more horsepower to your operations.
Some of the benefits include saving up to two thirds of your labor. A standard workstation will provide up to 300 lines / per hour / per person and we can turbo charge the workstation and hit up to 1000 lines / per hour / per person with 99.9% accuracy… and not to mention, two thirds the floor space savings and a rapid deployment. This system is usually the most cost-effective solution of all AMR systems.
The Robot Control System (RCS) and Warehouse Execution Software (WES) will likely make or break your AMR system. Some of the features you should require is slotting, golden zoning every rack, and optimizing the racks’ location on the floor. This should be done automatically and will increase your throughput dramatically and keep it optimized over time.
Another feature you should require is automatically monitoring your AMRs motors to tell you that a wheel has picked up a label or string and needs to be taken off. The controls and software should be able to integrate all technologies (and manufacturers) for future flexibility. I emphasize this for your future. Plus being able to implement Wave, Waveless or Overlapping Wave Management depending on your order profiles and business to make sure you are at peak performance.
The AMR goes under a rack, lifts it and then delivers it to a workstation. It delivers the bin to an operator in a workstation. The workstation can be simple or complex depending on your business case. The operator makes the pick, using pick to light indicators. A task complete button is hit, and the bot takes the rack back to storage and a new rack slides in for picking.
A view of the floor and the workstations up front. We have total flexibility how the workstation is designed and implemented.
There are many rack styles and options available. These are just a few ways of handling inventory in the system. From totes to cases to hanging garments to pallet, bins, gaylords and pretty much anything else you can require. And the important thing is, you can have different rack styles in the same system and modify them as needed.
This is a universal workstation. This illustrates how other technologies can be implemented in the workstation. You can see the AMRs queueing in position to be picked on top. To the right a pallet, gaylord, bin you name it is inducted and replaced as needed. Plus, in the bottom you can have pick to light flow rack or put walls or put stations which the bots will move in and out of the workstation automatically.
This is simply illustrating how the Bots queue to eliminate operator wait time. As you can tell, the operator picks from the active bin, and when picked, the next rack slides in for picking and the picked rack goes back into storage or the next workstation requiring it.
And to hit that 1000 lines per hour we use a Turbo Queue Workstation. The moment one rack face has been picked; the operator slides to the next waiting rack. This eliminates all dwell and idle time.
This illustration shows a typical floor layout. The X’s are bot positions, and the white is their path. Workstations can be located in the front, rear or sides of the system. You can pick, return, replenish, cycle count from dedicated or multipurpose workstations. You can even create ad hoc workstations when and where needed… quickly and easily.
The standard layout on the left will save up to 2/3 of your floor space. For extra floor space savings requirements, we can save and additional 60% by utilizing mining bots to move racks away for picking bots to access. You can imagine how dense this system can become!
To reinforce the flexibility, you can see how the shelf levels are set to your inventory’s requirements. Multiple totes or cases per shelf. Pallets or cases, totes, gaylords, bins or specialty carts can be transported and part of the integrated system. And you can divide a tote into multiple cells and the software will track and direct the operators automatically.
Start with a deep dive, data analysis. Then move to defining in detail your design objectives to make sure everything is aligned. Next, evaluate alternative analysis to validate we have the best solution. Then apply the lens of your business case, to look at all the vital criteria that will assure success including the return on investment.
Next create a clear path to success including metrics and dates. Followed by a detailed execution roadmap and lastly, a lifecycle Nexus which helps assure that this system or facility is going to be running successfully for years and even decades.
Interested in learning more? Please check out our blog page: https://www.conveyco.com/warehouse-robot-statistics/