As portions of the nation prepare to re-open businesses after a lengthy coronavirus lockdown, some logistics technology providers say their platforms offer methods for preserving the social distancing practices that can slow the spread of Covid-19 disease.
Warehouse automation vendor inVia Robotics said Wednesday it has added social distancing features to the inVia Logic software and inVia PickMate user tool that are the foundations of its e-commerce automation solution.
Los Angeles-based inVia Robotics Inc. says that capability helps businesses enact “safety first” measures as the economy starts to cautiously reopen, and keep them in place as sectors navigate towards a “new normal” which will likely include increased e-commerce ordering. InVia’s platform had already provided access to a real-time, three-dimensional warehouse simulation view showing the location of each labor point in the warehouse. That view has now been enhanced to emphasize when workers have breached a safe zone of six feet, sending them a proactive alert and including the data in labor-management reporting.
"We listened to our customers who are concerned about how to keep their e-commerce fulfillment running without disruption but also want to ensure safety for their people," Lior Elazary, InVia’s co-founder and CEO, said in a release. "This solution can be implemented immediately and can easily be adapted to address new workplace concerns as they arise."
Warehouse robotics provider 6 River Systems Inc. says is it also incorporating a mix of software and physical hardware solutions to minimize tactile exposure throughout the warehouse and maximize social distance between DC employees.
Waltham, Massachusetts-based 6 River Systems says operations that already use autonomous mobile robots (AMRs)—such as its “Chuck” bot—already have an advantage in fighting Covid-19 because they require fewer workers in the building than manual operations to get the same throughput.
Now the company has compiled a list of recommendations to help facilities operating under coronavirus conditions to balance safety, efficiency, site design, and demand. “In today’s environment, the top thing on most operators’ minds is keeping their associates safe while running their operations. In response, we devoted a team to focus solely on recommendations, updates and features to improve the safety of associates with respect to pathogens such as Covid-19,” 6 River Systems' chief technology officer and co-founder, Chris Cacioppo, said in a blog post.
The company is also: prototyping a free accessory to hold sanitizing wipes and gloves, updating its software to remind associates to wipe down Chuck’s confirmation buttons and screen, and developing a barcode “cheat sheet” to replace most of the common touches on the robots.
In another example, the material handling and logistics system provider Dematic says it has developed a software update for a grocery customer, empowering that firm to continue addressing online demand surges during the Covid-19 crisis while ensuring critical safety measures for its front-line workers.
The software update was developed by software engineers from Digital Applications International Ltd. (DAI), a U.K.-based company acquired by Dematic in February that specializes in logistics software solutions. Under normal use cases, Dematic’s software indicates the aisles that contain certain items when a picker is assigned an order, but the update also shows when those aisles are occupied by other pickers, allowing workers to move quickly to an open aisle.
“Dematic has always been focused on helping our customers respond quickly to critical business challenges ― it’s at the core of what we do,” Hasan Dandashly, CEO of Dematic, said in a release. “Now, given the coronavirus pandemic, it’s even more critical. Our customers’ employees are no longer simply order pickers, grocery retail workers and cashiers, but front-line workers. It is our duty as a business partner to provide creative solutions that make order fulfillment not just easier and faster but safer. This quick software update is the most recent example of how we take this role seriously with each project and with every customer.”