Latest piece of research, produced in collaboration with market research company Interact Analysis, takes a wide-ranging look at the future of warehouse robotics, with a focus on multi-AMR (autonomous mobile robot) solutions. The benefits of an AMR solution, as compared to fixed automation, are clear: it is faster to deploy, it is more flexible, it is easier to scale, and it is more cost-effective.
Going forward, we see two important trends:
1) T2P (tote-to-person) AMR solutions offer an alternative to bringing whole racks to pickers, with robots bringing individual totes instead
2) The combination of ever more sophisticated software with an ever wider variety of AMR platforms gives the option of knitting different AMR applications into single automation solutions
This brings the possibility to replace fixed automation solutions with mobile ones. As we said in our research:
To put it bluntly: if a team of well managed mobile robots can pick and carry any item to any location in a warehouse, why would anybody ever install a fixed conveyor belt ever again?
French sporting goods retailer Decathlon also recently adopted a Geek+ solution. This deployment took place at their site in Kunshan, China. Decathlon have been working with Geek+ for over 3 years and this investment was an extension to the successful deployment of other Geek+ automation solutions. Decathlon deployed a T2P AMR solution in the form of RoboShuttle robots in combination with P800 G2P robots. Their aim was to automate their high density storage area that is used for replenishment. The replenishment area was employing high bay shelves and forklifts, a solution which required a lot of moving pallets around, as well as large numbers of expensive licensed forklift drivers. RoboShuttle enabled the selection of individual totes, removing the need to shift entire pallets around, and the Geek+ solution has resulted in full automation, as well as:
- Storage capacity increased by 20%
- Storage utilization increased by 25%
- Significantly more accurate inventory management
Shican is a leading e-commerce service provider in China. They run third-party supply chain operations for fashion brands. The challenge – driven by the pandemic-induced growth in e-commerce – was to deal with massive SKUs, shallow inventory, clothes stored folded, and high demand for storage. They also had to manage major seasonal inventory changes, and huge amounts of returns (as is standard in the industry). Their existing model was highly labor intensive.
To better cope with these issues, the company invested in 80 Geek+ RS5-S RoboShuttle robots for tote picking, and 8 ShuttleDock machines for tote lifting and loading. This deployment represents the largest single-site roll-out of RoboShuttle to date. Implementation was complete within eight weeks, despite difficulties caused by the chip shortage and supply chain issues. The benefits were clear:
- Picking efficiency increased by 4-6x
- Storage capacity improved by 1.5-2x
- Picking accuracy and on time delivery rates both hit 99.99%
Comix is a leading B2B office supplier and SaaS cloud service company in China, with customers in over 120 countries and regions. Their challenge was managing massive SKUs consisting of small items all in similar packaging. This was resulting in low picking efficiency and a high error rate. With the Geek+ solution, P40 robots streamline the picking process through their ability to carry specific totes to individual human pickers. Meanwhile, RoboShuttles carry the totes between storage rows and a storage cache for retrieval by the P40s. A four-way shuttle system is now storing pallets and boxes to maximize warehouse utilization, and the solution has also bought the ability to cache the most in-demand SKUs on the lowest shelf, speeding up picking. The results are impressive:
- Storage capacity increased by 200%
- Picking efficiency increased by 50%
- Picking accuracy hit 99.99%
- Space utilization increased by 40%
- Labor cost decreased by 50%