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How does flexible robotics cure under-automation?

Article by Michael Trimmer

After grasping the full scale of the under-automation problem, the next question is naturally “how do we cure it?”

The condition’s name explains that some kind of automation system is required.

But what is the right dose? How much automation do you need? What kind of system offers all that is needed to get your business to the point where under-automation is dealt with, and the warehouse performance plateau becomes a memory?

The answer is flexible robotics. The next-generation response to present-day warehouse limitations, difficulties, and struggles.

What is flexible robotics?

To understand flexible robotics you need to know that it is defined in contrast to its alternative. Fixed robotics.

Fixed robotics is the traditional current generation model of warehouse automation. It involves static storage solutions – usually shelving or racking that is built-in-place and thus completely immobile. Robots move between the stacks on a network of built-in-place infrastructure systems. By running along rails, gantries, and tracks, these robots collect the desired items and then deliver them to dedicated areas for picking, packing, and despatch.

By contrast, flexible robotics involves virtually no built-in-place storage, thanks to completely mobile and free-standing shelving units. The autonomous mobile robots require the absolute minimum in terms of external infrastructure to move and navigate around the warehouses. Thanks to their LIDAR and other sophisticated sensors and their advanced robotic control systems (RCS), all that is necessary is some carefully placed DM codes affixed to the warehouse floor.

Flexible robotics is so named because it can be adjusted and adapted with far greater ease than the alternative. With no fixed infrastructure for either storage of items or robotic movement, the entire warehouse can adapt and adjust your entire set-up as and when required.

What makes flexible robotics different?

When compared to fixed robotics, the flexible alternative provides a much higher level of automation. The kind of dosage you need when looking to cure the problem outright.

With a fixed robotic system, all that has happened is that the manual warehouse model remains essentially the same, but with a single aspect of the process – the movement of goods from storage to pickers – is automated.

With flexible robotics, the storage situation itself is automated. Space given over to infrastructure is reclaimed. Operational speed is made consistent, and accelerable with the deployment of additional robots – all with highly rapid ROI. Free-standing shelves mean the organisation can re-arrange the warehouse depending on sales trends and demand fluctuations.

Rather than simply moving things between storage and pickers, the automated storage system allows for the warehouse itself to be an automated entity.

How does flexible robotics cure under-automation?

By automating the entire warehouse, rather than just a single part of the process, flexible robotics cures all of the symptoms that commonly plague manual warehouses, or those using fixed automation systems.

Without flexible robotics, warehouses often find themselves facing an order overload, which is where too many orders arrive in too small a window. This forces their conveyors to become clogged and deliveries get delayed. With autonomous robots able to carry an entire storage unit in a single movement, and with more consistent operational speeds, flexible robotics changes the game and cures your under-automation symptoms.

Without flexible robotics, high demand during peak times, and the seasonal hiring spikes that follow, become a bigger and bigger problem. Warehouses using fixed robotics have no way to move goods any faster than their pre-built top speed. The only way manual warehouses can accelerate is to hire more workers, an expensive and time-consuming process. Not only are flexible robotics solutions faster in general, but they are also adaptive enough to employ new robots for extra support on a simple temporary basis.

Without flexible robotics, businesses struggle to expand or adapt new warehouses as they need to build and maintain expensive infrastructure for fixed robotics or hire and train costly new workforces. Flexible robotics lets your business expand with extreme efficiency and the best cost-effectiveness industry 4.0 can offer.

Without flexible robotics, businesses find themselves constrained, not only by the whims and fancies of the picker employee marketplace, but by the monolithic competitors with the buying power to squeeze the commercial real estate market dry. Flexible robotics gives your business the freedom to make proactive decisions about everything from workforce size to expansion plans and seasonal accelerations.

Discover flexible robotics – discover Wise Robotics

To see for yourself how flexible robotics can and will cure your under-automation, contact Wise Robotics today. Speak with our experts to learn more about industry 4.0 and the future of flexible robotics.

You can even visit us in person. Wise Robotics is proud to own and operate Europe’s first flexible robotics demonstration centre. See the robots in action, learn how they work, and why they offer so much in the way of improved efficiency.

Once you witness the capabilities of flexible robotics for yourself, you’ll understand the opportunities available when your under-automation is cured.

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