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Four reasons why flexible robotics is futureproof

Article by Michael Trimmer

How a flexible automation system keeps your business ready for change

If the robotics revolution teaches us anything, it is that change is inevitable. Technological change. Economic change. Societal change. All these and more come no matter how prepared we are. Thus, it always pays to be ready.

This is why fixed automation will always be inferior to the alternative. Any system built with fixed storage, fixed transport routes, and fixed speeds, might be well set for one or two specific sets of outcomes. But should markets deviate beyond the norm even slightly, fixed systems will find themselves utterly flummoxed.

Flexible automation allows for futureproofing. Your business can be ready for any number of changes and shifts in the market. To discover what makes this possible, consider the following four reasons.

1. Your warehouse can change shape and size

In the future, your warehouse may need more space, or different space, or a different warehouse entirely. Flexible automation can take on all these changes quickly and easily.

Redeploying robots from one warehouse to another warehouse to another is exceptionally easy. If you have a Robotic Control System (RCS) in place, and the apt DM panels affixed to the floor, our robots will find their own ways to get around.

Without the cumbersome and expensive infrastructure of fixed automation, your business can change your warehouse’s size, shape, and overall style to whatever you need, whenever you need it.

2. Your storage can be shifted simply

The COVID-19 crisis showed us just how quickly businesses can find themselves needing to change what they store and how they store it. Companies that had been working the B2B market for years suddenly found their entire customer base had dried up. Their products were loaded onto pallets, but had nowhere to go. They needed new systems to re-orient their operations and sell directly to consumers.

In a fixed automation system, changing from B2B to B2C would be a logistical nightmare. Manual warehouses found it hard enough, and they didn’t need to circumnavigate a sea of intrusive infrastructure.

For flexible automation, all the storage systems are modular and freestanding. They can switch, swap, adapt, and adjust as and when needed. Different storage solutions are available for different types of products, and all can move within the storage grid as customer fashions and consumer demand dictate. If one item becomes so popular the orders need to go out quicker, that can be placed as near as possible to the picking stations. Should tastes change, rotations can be rearranged. However the future plays out, flexible automation ensures your storage solutions are ready.

3. Your recruitment can stop spiking with demand

When your operations model constantly needs huge intakes of staff for every unexpected event, you know you have a problem. Even the mighty Amazon could not meet all its hiring needs when COVID-19 arrived and 100,000 new warehouse staff were saught after. 75,000 was all they could manage.

Even expected events are causing difficulties for warehouses. Christmas and January sales seasons sending warehouses into a flurry of expensive temporary hiring patterns. The level of demand generated in these periods is unsustainable, but businesses will not survive unless they meet the expectations of these busy seasons

Flexible automation offers the best possible solution. Not only does it offer a far more efficient response overall, but it also means that demand spikes have far better alternatives than just hiring more staff. More robots can be deployed, making the workload even faster, and staff can be redeployed to newly established picking stations, making the processing even more efficient. Advanced SLAM navigation and modular RCS means that new robots are no hindrance or slow down at all. Whatever future demand spikes come your way, your warehouse will be equipped to handle them.

4. Your business can grow

Flexible automation allows you space and freedom to grow your business as and when you need it. If you get more demand, deploy more robots. If you need more storage, stick down some new DM panels and expand. If you need to store a wider variety of items, change the storage solutions you use.

With fixed automation, none of this is possible. Your business is stuck in the land of industry 3.0. Forever fixed at one storage volume, one storage type, one delivery speed. No adjustments or changes can ever be made. If your business grows, your warehouse can’t adapt in response.

To learn just what flexible automation means, and why it is being called a robotics revolution, visit Wise Robotics today. See Europe’s first flexible automation demonstration centre, and discover how industry 4.0 will change the world for your business, and all businesses, from this point on.

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