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Every millimetre matters in materials handling

Article by Michael Trimmer


In any manner of materials handling processes, precision is always a priority. At the zoomed-out level, your goods need to be transported to particular places via required routes at itemised times. This is what allows your facility to function, whether it’s a warehouse, factory, or logistics hub. If you are considering an automated warehouse, the accuracy of your materials handling is not just expected. It’s implied.

However, what is sometimes less discussed is that precision is a micro-scale phenomenon. A well-put-together materials handling process needs to be millimetre-level accurate. This is something that manually managed materials handling can struggle with. Getting everything exactly right, every single time, is always going to be difficult when you throw things like fatigue and distraction into the mix.

An automated solution offers another level of operational precision. One that is unachievable with other systems. Thanks to equipment like LiDAR, techniques like Machine Vision, and overall control support as provided by an RCS, you get a solution that is millimetre-level precise. There are many different reasons that can be extremely important. Some of which you can discover below.

Staff safety considerations

When your materials handing system is moving goods into a facility occupied by your staff, safety is paramount. This is not only true of the robot positioning itself, but also the deposition of each and every item the system handles and moves.

Being certain of the exact millimetre level positioning of your goods means that you can be confident about things like weight distribution and structural load capacity. Allowing you to in turn be confident that storage solutions are working within proper parameters, thereby removing dangers ranging from unexpected falls to total collapse.

While achievable, manual measurements increase the risks and inaccuracies. Moreover, when it comes to manual systems, accuracy and time pressure have a relationship of inverse correlation.

By using an automated materials handling option, this issue is eradicated. Sophisticated sensors, alongside scanning and positioning software, ensures that everything is exactly where it should be. This stops any unexpected storage fails that built up due to mistakes too small for the human eye to normally detect.

Detailed storage density

Individual millimetres of space lost here and there may not seem like very much. Collectively however they can create a more and more lost area in an arena of costs that is very expensive to maintain and manage. While a centimetre might not be enough to remove a whole item or several items from a shelf, it might be enough to mean that the remaining space is less than you would have expected. Forcing things to be redistributed and consuming even more time and energy.

Manual operations to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen are potentially possible, but this adds yet another task onto the already long list provided to pickers and other warehouse operatives. These workers already spend between 50-70% of their working day walking between the warehouse bins. Realistically they have little time left to be making sure that all your storage racks are millimetre-precise in their positioning patterns.

Automated materials handling provides this level of accuracy as a matter of course. It is entirely engineered around the ability to keep your items stored as compactly and efficiently as possible. This is made possible with both the extreme precision with which the robots themselves are engineered and the high-accuracy equipment used by the robots. Not only does this technology let robots move around your warehouse with ease, it also lets them ensure that all your material is handled with millimetre-level precision at every stage of storage and movement.

Inter-system speed

When your automated materials handling system can be accurate to the millimetre, it makes connections and docking much faster.

Materials handling might be only one aspect of the automation processes you have deployed at your warehouse. While it could involve many different processes, including goods-in to general storage, despatch hub to courier delivery, and/or component holding to the assembly line, other processes may also be ongoing.

Your automated systems could well involve goods-to-person processes or production line operations. Both of which will be well served by a materials handling solution, and even better by one that is more accurate. High accuracy means that there will be no mis-picks by things like robotic arms, partial drops onto conveyor belts, or any number of other missed connections and failed transfers.

With a millimetre accurate automated materials handling solution, you can be confident of a higher speed achieved between all the automated aspects of your operation.

Discover automated materials handling

Read more about what is on offer from Wise Robotics when it comes to automated materials handling. Learn how you can get the maximum possible advantage in this field by reading our latest white paper on the subject. Find out how the robotic revolution is changing the logistics sector forever, and see why joining the automation generation should be very high on your business’s long-term priorities list.

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