Companies of just about any size can take advantage of robotics technology, says Brian Reinhart, vice president of sales, solutions and marketing at HAI Robotics.
If anyone thinks of automated storage and retrieval systems as big, slow and cumbersome, they need to think again. “As the market has evolved,” Reinhart says, “ASRS [automated storage and retrieval systems] encompasses a number of things in terms of mobile robotics goods-to-person technology. The way it's affecting the workflow is through a kind of dynamic flexibility.”
The goods-to-person subsection of ASRS involves high-density, high-speed operating systems, says Reinhart. “Typically, in order fulfillment, e-commerce environments where we're trying to combine two or three applications into one operator — things like putaway, replenishment, picking quality assurance and cycle counting — can all be done from one pick engine, one storage medium and at one operator workstation. That's the true advantage that goods-to-person is bringing to the market. The amount of savings and synergies you can get in the warehouse from that technology is just astounding.”
Historically, companies had to be “at scale” before a return on investment in goods-to-person technologies was possible, he says. Today, such technologies are scalable and more adaptable, allowing people to start at a lower entry point.
Flexibility is among the challenges in the warehouse that needs to be solved, Reinhart says. That’s where robotics comes in. “Mobility provides a flexibility that ensures we don't have to cram a particular SKU set or a particular SKU velocity into a traditional technology,” Reinhart says. “Mobility allows for every bot to attach to every type of tote, to approach every operator. There are no more aisles, no more segmentation, no more downstream consolidation. So the evolution of taking that speed and density and a flexible environment is not even where we're going. We're here, and I think that's kind of exciting to watch.”
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