The ability of the AMR proposition to generate significant productivity gains quickly and cost-effectively has rapidly made it the e-commerce fulfilment solution of choice for many of the world’s leading logistics businesses.
Locus’s robots work collaboratively with human employees, helping them to become far more productive by doubling, even tripling their former pick rates. This enables supply chain operators to drive faster throughput, lower cycle times and speed up the dispatch of goods from the warehouse to the customer.
The effectiveness of the solution has been critical throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Supply chain operators deploying the solution have been able to scale up the size of their operation to cope with the massive peaks in demand seen during the succession of lockdowns, when people became reliant on deliveries for all their essential supplies.
It was not uncommon during the health emergency for supply chain operation to break order volume records on an almost daily basis.
The AMR solution also proved effective in helping to combat the scarcity of labour during the pandemic when warehouses were forced to implement social distancing measures or workforces were depleted due to illness.
Traditional methods of fulfilment, whereby vast armies of temporary labour are drafted in to warehouses to fulfil orders during periods of peak demand, such as Black Friday and the festive run-in, had increasingly been called into question prior to the pandemic because of the growing need to find a solution to the ongoing labour challenge.
Finding labour in sufficient numbers was increasingly becoming a problem for many operators and with a scarcity of workers, those that were available were becoming increasingly more expensive.
Keen to keep costs down so as not to pass on salary increases to customers, warehouse operators looked for a more sustainable solution to the worsening problem.
Early forms of warehouse automation had been tried but the results were mixed. Fixed infrastructure systems such as conveyors were expensive to buy and install, and the productivity gains were modest.
Traditional solutions often lacked flexibility, adaptability and could not be scaled to meet fluctuations in demand.
With predictions the e-commerce sector would continue to grow as online shopping became more popular, operators looked to more scalable solutions to fulfil their needs.
It became critical that retailers and 3PL providers could match higher order volumes with increasing consumer demand, despite the widespread scarcity of warehouse labour.
The advantages offered by the AMR solution quickly helped to popularise the idea of robotic fulfilment.
The basic principle of the collaborative model is a flexible solution that coordinates human labour and robots to optimise productivity and warehouse throughput.
The robots move autonomously throughout the pick area of the warehouse, meeting pickers at pick locations. As the collaborative robots are not tied to human pickers, they are able to optimise their travel paths to each pick location, leaving workers to pick faster since they do not spend unproductive time walking between pick location and dispatch point.
It quickly became evident that the AMR solution could meet the need for an effective, cost-efficient means to transform pick rates within the e-commerce warehouse.
The solution is easily scalable and can adapt to changes in demand, such as those generated during peak periods, simply by adding more robots to a fleet. As the system adopts hive technology, new robots can be unpacked and introduced into the operation within a matter of minutes, maintaining operational performance.
There are additional benefits inherent to the AMR solution.
The RaaS (Robots-as-a-Service) model offers a cost-effective utilisation verses fixed-infrastructure, enabling operators to pay for what they need when they need it and then return the robots when peak subsides.
The highly visible real-time data supplied by the multi-bot solution allows for more effective deployment of the robots to the areas or products in high demand. It also aids strategic thinking by allowing businesses to increase operational capacity and accurately make provision for high demand goods.
Businesses implementing the Locus AMR solution have seen their productivity double – even treble – with no disruption to their operations,” said Denis Niezgoda, Vice President – Europe, Locus Robotics.
“The solution removes the need for workers to haul heavy carts around a warehouse, enabling them instead to be located close to their picking area, instantly cutting out hours of unproductive walking time as the cobots convey picked items to the packing areas.
“Add to this the fact that the data fed into the LocusBot programme improves pick accuracy and eliminates costly and time-consuming errors, then it comes as little surprise that cost-effective automated processes such as the Locus AMR solution are increasingly being seen as the new normal in the post-pandemic world.”
Locus will be outlining more about the effectiveness of the solution when it participates in IMHX Connect.
For more information visit www.locusrobotics.com