Much has changed since the early days of e-commerce. Fifteen years ago, if warehouse operators were looking to achieve maximum efficiency, their first port of call may well have been to deploy pick to light or voice picking technology.
Both solutions, to a degree, still enhance efficiency by increasing productivity and picking accuracy.
However, the massive growth in e-commerce over the last ten years – further driven by us being trapped in our homes during the COVID-19 lockdowns – led to a huge increase of volume through warehouses.
Fulfilment solutions have, to some extent, kept pace with this growth, but few warehouse operators are taking advantage of the flexible automation solutions now available.
For example, how many warehouse operators have taken a closer look at what is a major step change in fulfilment – the significant efficiencies that collaborative robots can deliver to warehouse operations?
Working alongside pickers, collaborative robots maximise picking efficiency and drive faster fulfilment. Driven by sophisticated fulfilment software and AI, collaborative robots, such as Chuck from 6 River Systems, learn and retain a digital map of the area they operate in – so they always know where they are going and why.
From your WMS, they take orders to be picked and intelligently sequence the picking operation in the most efficient manner.
Fulfilment software can enable the collaborative robots to take into account delivery times, congestion, the size of the products to be picked, the number of pickers available, and their location.
The collaborative robots then guide pickers through the picking process step-by-step, resulting in an improvement in picking rates of up to 150%. Even temporary workers can get up to speed in just a couple of hours.
Fulfilment software and AI combined with collaborative robots can deliver actionable insights for both management and warehouse supervisors. Dashboards provide real-time visibility of:
•minute by minute progress towards meeting the day’s cut off times
•order progress by department, customers and individual orders
•planning of labour to meet forecasted or actual volume
•detailed insights into pick rate and the fulfilment operation
Collaborative robots can also help overcome the current unprecedented labour shortages. Our recent research, Can Collaborative Robots Help Combat Warehouse Labour Shortages?, revealed that collaborative robots help to retain existing employees and attract new ones by reducing the physically demanding nature of warehouse work.
If you want to maximise and monitor efficiency in your warehouse, and create a more attractive workplace for employees take a closer look at collaborative robots – Chuck will be your guide!