Warehouse managers who are looking to boost throughput by installing a fleet of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) need to look beyond the robots themselves and consider the ripple effects they will make on the rest of the operation, according to a robotics expert from supply chain solutions provider Körber Supply Chain.
While all AMR deployments are somewhat different, there are five best practices that can applied across all scenarios to deliver a successful project, Korber Solutions Consultant Carl Oreback said in a session at the German technology provider’s “Elevate Americas” online user conference today.
These five concepts apply whether a company is looking to install any of the common types of AMR designs, including goods to person (GTP) platforms like Geek+ or Fetch Robotics, person to goods (PTG) systems like Locus Robotics, automated sortation devices, or pallet movers, he said in a webcast session titled “5 Considerations for a Successful AMR Deployment.”
At the highest level, they include: designing for system scalability, considering the end-to-end process, integration of the new AMR technology with existing software systems, assembling the appropriate team of employees to oversee the project, and handling change management once the project goes live.
More specifically, any AMR installation should be designed with the potential to scale up the operation to meet future conditions with greater volumes and a larger fleet of robots. Even in an era where the pandemic has shown business leaders that the “foreseeable future” may not be very far over the horizon, AMR projects should include flexible options like space for additional bots, areas for extra picking stations, and infrastructure for more electric charging stations, he said.
Another critical point is to plan ahead for the potential impacts of the robots on the full range of warehouse operations, not just order-picking tasks, Oreback said. For example, many AMR systems can deliver double or triple the throughput of typical manual warehouse productivity, but that improvement could be wasted if conventional pack stations or replenishment procedures can’t keep up with the new speed, he said.
A third major point is that AMR software platforms are not intended to replace a facility’s existing warehouse management system (WMS) product, but rather to enhance its functionality, said Oreback. Even once the new bots are rolling, the WMS will still act as the brain of the operation and maintain its connections to other networks such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.
We are proud to help each of our customers #ConquerSupplyChainComplexity. Today, #KoerberElevate Americas attendees can see how our solutions have helped customers like @bootbarn, @sanmar_corp, and @PartsTown increase their supply chain’s performance. pic.twitter.com/JeNv2xUjnn— Körber Supply Chain (@Koerber_BA_SC) March 10, 2021