The Latest Trends in Warehouse Management

Logistics Tech Outlook | Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The emergence of robotics in the warehousing sector is enabling organizations to overcome the challenges of labor shortage, downtime, and warehouse safety.

FREMONT, CA – The emergence of modern technologies such as driverless forklifts, unmanned aerial vehicles, and mobile robots are transforming the warehouse sector, bringing new capabilities. The implementation of mobile robots has not only enabled warehousing companies to realize cost savings but also to reduce worker compensation and enhance safety. The innovation in warehousing in technology has made it considerably more affordable and flexible.

The impact of warehouse automation technologies has enabled logistics companies to improve order fulfillment and material handling. It has empowered the industry to address the prevalent challenges such as labor availability, employment costs, order profiles, fulfillment strategies, and so on. The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT) with robotics have led to preventive maintenance and forecasting capabilities. A study by the analyst firm IDC predicts the robotics spending to reach $103 billion by the end of 2019, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.9 percent. The rapid growth of robotics is fueled by the labor drain and downtime due to manual movement of materials.

The latest technologies in the logistics market include:

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

AMRs are designed to navigate the warehouse floor with minimum human intervention. They enable the logistics companies to automate the transport of inventory from one place to another. AMRs leverage advanced onboard sensors, processors, and maps to perceive and interpret their surroundings. AMR units provide greater flexibility of movement when compared to other technologies. They can identify and avoid obstacles, changing routes whenever necessary.

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS)

The adoption of AS/RS has enabled organizations to automate the inventory process. Its integration with warehouse execution software (WES) allows the management of multiple processes within a particular operation. The AS/RS units are mostly used for the retrieval of goods between aisles. They navigate a fixed track in the warehouse.

Goods to Person (G2P)

G2P technology is an automated storage system used for split case order fulfillment. It enables the automation of low-skill tasks, allowing the workers to focus on more sophisticated processes. G2P systems require significantly less amount of space when compared to conventional storage and order fulfillment systems.

Autonomous Inventory Robots

The integration of AMRs with RFID tagging solutions have enabled organizations to develop autonomous inventory robots designed to conduct automatic inventory sweeps at specific intervals. The RFID sensors facilitate optimal coverage and can detect tagged materials from distances up to 25 feet. Organizations can not only reduce the manual inventory counts but also conduct real-time mapping, enabling managers to visualize product storage. It enables warehousing companies to save thousands of dollars with labor reduction, waste reduction, and inventory optimization.

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)

AGVs are leveraged for the movement of inventory, supplies, and materials from one location to another in the warehouse. It not only streamlines the replenishment processes but also allows the workers to focus on complex tasks. AGVs are designed to follow magnetic strips or tracks laid along the warehouse floor. Some providers integrate them with advanced capabilities such as LiDAR, camera vision, infrared, and other sensors for seamless navigation. They reduce forklift operations, saving time, and labor on low skill operations.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

The integration of lightweight UAVs with robust RFID sensors has enabled logistics companies to facilitate real-time inventory visibility in the warehouse. The UAVs can be deployed after hours to perform automatic inventory checks throughout the facility. The scans are uploaded to a cloud application which can sync with inventory management systems. The sensors facilitate collision prevention, enabling the UAVs to navigate cluttered environments. Along with inventory checks, they also offer safety reports, tracking, and mapping.

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