If you ask someone to describe a robot, the first word out of their mouth is probably not “flexible.” Instead in the popular consciousness, robots are often thought as stiff and jerky. Afterall, it’s hard to imagine C-3PO from Star Wars doing yoga.
But one of the main benefits of deploying robots in a warehouse or DC is their flexibility, especially compared to more traditional material handling equipment such as racks and conveyors. In an educational session at the ProMatDX 2021 online event, Mark Messina, chief operating officer, Americas, of the robotics company Geek+, highlighted this flexibility and two other benefits of using robots in the warehouse: their scalability and reliability.
With racks and conveyors, according to Messina, the warehouse or distribution center design has to be “spot on” and companies have to plan to have the same basic layout for the next 10 years. The design is rigid because it takes a lot of time and money to move racks and conveyors around.
“With traditional racks and conveyors, it’s major surgery if you want to make changes,” Messina said.
For this reason, companies often design in buffers in their operations. While buffers allow companies to better respond to changes in demand, they are also inefficient and potentially wasteful.
In contrast, the hardware for robot implementations, especially for automatous mobile robots (AMRs), is often less complex and can be deployed faster. It’s a lot easier to add or remove AMRs as demand fluctuates.
This education session will be available again for viewing on April 19 to all registered attendees of ProMat DX. To register, click here.