500% pick rate rise – RCS explained
When OW Robotics talks about flexible automation delivering a potential 500% pick rate rise to your warehouse, this isn’t brash boldness for its own sake. This is grounded extrapolation, based on the speed, sophistication, and strength of the robotic solutions that we offer. To help understand why that is such a big deal, here’s an exploration of one of the key features of industry 4.0 automation. The RCS.
What is an RCS?
Something like an RCS can be basically understood by looking at what the letters stand for, but to truly grasp why it is so important takes a little more examination. RCS stands for
In broad terms, it refers to the software systems that organise and operate the entire warehouse automation process.
Because of the generalness of the term, it is fair to say that RCSs are not exactly new. You could use the term RCS to describe any set of processes that directed the actions of an individual robot or group of robots. Since such machines have been a part of factory life to some degree or other since 1954 and the days of Unimation, you could argue that RCSs are almost seven decades old.
However, this would ignore that the RCSs used in the days of the earliest industrial robots only controlled things on the basis of a single string of instructions. While they were automatic in the sense that they could repeat their actions over and over again without human control, they could only perform one set of actions. The RCS of early industrial robots had a very limited capacity to alter their behaviour based on new information. As equipment improved, this pattern began to change.
As technology progressed, RCS became more sophisticated. The biggest change was the ability to receive and respond to external feedback. This allowed the robots to know when a given task or aspect of a task had been completed successfully, causing a cascade of if/then variables to be processed electronically.
As computing technology grew, more and more variables could be included within this list. The range of sensor equipment on offer could also add greater degrees of nuance and specificity to the tasks in question. Measurements like accuracy and repeatability became sensitive to the point of fractions of millimetres and micro-pascals of pressure. With these newer developments, it began to seem as though the only limitations on offer were the physical constraints of the robots themselves.
…and the newest.
When wireless internet and cloud computing became available, even the robots’ physical constraints began to feel less restrictive. In previous generations of automation, the robots themselves had to either carry all their computing equipment themselves, or they had to be connected by cables, rails, and other cumbersome apparatus to their external computing systems.
Thanks to modern technology, all such matters have been put to one side. Quite literally. Robots communicate wirelessly via wifi or 5G with vast banks of processers and programmes stored elsewhere. This means they are well away from the storage space, allowing for much more efficient designs of the robots themselves. Now all that was needed at the robots’ end was the ability to receive and follow orders and to communicate what their own situation was. This is all for the good, since the tasks at the RCS end are now much more elaborate, and the software itself much more sophisticated.
RCS – Remarkably Clever Software
RCSs have moved on from simply controlling and directing the tasks that humans have pre-planned for them. Instead, they are now advanced enough to find the best way to do these tasks. This is all thanks to a wide range of new integrations, and slews upon slews of new data that the more advanced RCS software is able to process.
RCS is not just processing the robots and their position relative to the stock. Thanks to integrations with WMS, your RCS can co-ordinate the stocks position, allowing for even greater efficiency. Products that are in high demand can be kept nearer the picking stations. Products that are seasonally wanted are grouped and ready accordingly. Patterns in purchasing detected by your business management systems can be relayed to your RCS and responded to accordingly.
RCS are also busy calculating maximum possible efficiencies. With location information about every item and picking station, a complete understanding of every robot’s position and current path, and more than enough calculating power to outsmart any number of chess grandmasters, your RCS can calculate the optimal possible path for every item at every stage. This is a level of understanding no human, or group of humans, could ever possibly achieve in a time frame that would be remotely useful. Manual warehouses can try and keep pace with altered pick rules and new picking routes and patterns, but they can never compete with a computer. Your RCS isn’t just controlling the robots. It is co-ordinating them to operational perfection.
Discover more in person
If you would like to get the best grasp of what modern RCS really means for your business, and how it can make 500% pick rate rises possible, why not visit Wise Robotics yourself. We are proud to own and operate Europe’s first flexible robotics demonstration centre. We can show you a scaled-down version of many and various kinds of warehouse and manufacturing operations, so you can understand the kinds of efficiencies we can offer.
Discover for yourself what flexible robotics, equipped with modern RCS, could do for your business. Witness in person what the robotics revolution really means.