Introducing robotics and automation into warehouses should not be taken lightly or quickly. Not all robotics vendors have the required logistics expertise to be candidates for an implementation partnership. Implementing these cutting-edge technologies requires a true partnership with the technology company because implementations require open lines of communication and a process for continuous improvement. Facilities need to be of a certain size and scale to make the expenditures on automation and robotics worthwhile.
GEODIS, the global, full-service third-party logistics provider, advises that, in the case of an e-commerce fulfillment center, a volume of between 3,000 and 5,000 orders per day is the threshold level to be looking for before considering implementing robotics. The implementation should be timed for the first or second quarter of the year to avoid the peak season. Facilities need to be prepared by verifying that aisle widths are appropriate for the robots to move through, that the flooring is in good shape and that debris and trash don’t impede the robots’ navigational systems. Warehouse data processes also need to be in order, as robots are not going to fix problems with inventory accuracy, turn times and fill rates. Data in the warehousing system needs to be accurate — including the measurements and weight of items, as these factors will determine whether or not a robot is assigned to perform a specific task.
In coming years, robots that can handle bigger and heavier loads will achieve wider implementation. Warehouse workforces will become transformed and a new breed of robotics specialist will emerge to oversee the operations and activities of robots. Roboticists will develop greater expertise in logistics, and, armed with logistics best practices, will better fulfill the needs of logistics operations, making the case for logistics companies to consider implementing automation and robotics in their warehouses more compelling in the years to come.
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