The robots that are transforming the world of warehousing
John Deere’s Horicon plant is set to become the latest to be transformed by the new era of robotics that is changing the shape of warehousing forever. The plant will soon take delivery of a set of these high-tech robots, which will have a key role on the assembly line, being involved in carrying parts to the different parts of the warehouse as and when required – thus reducing the number of employees needed to complete tasks.
Although you may think that this isn’t something particularly new to the industry, these will stand-out from the crowd of what was available on the market previously. These robots are the latest OTTO 1500 models, which have been developed by Kitchener – a new player in the industry and who are currently impressing many companies with their contributions to developments in robotics.
These new machines are able to lift anything up to 3,000 pounds in weight, and transport the goods that they are carrying through intricate spaces in busy warehouses. This is all done entirely without the need for human supervision, which leaves employees able to focus on other tasks, in the knowledge that parts are being taken to exactly where they need to be in a safe and efficient way. It also leaves less room for delay, as everything can be timed accurately, to whatever schedule needs to be adhered to.
However, the thing that really sets these machines apart is the technology that they use to be able to find their way around the warehouses – no matter how busy they might be. With other robots, there is a need for magnetic strips on the floor for the robots to follow, or a selection of bar codes at various points around the warehouse, however these new builds use the same technology as Google’s self-driving car. This means that they can sense when something is in their path, and change their speed and trajectory accordingly. Therefore, there are no collisions to worry about during operation. This gives the robots a much better chance to get to where they need to be, without being limited to just a few places because of the tracks that they have to follow. However, in order to produce this kind of technology, lessons have been taken from previous industry leaders.
With regards to AVG, the story that has gained the most attention in previous years is the purchase of Kiva Systems by Amazon. This means that the company had access to all of their robotic equipment once the deal was complete, and were therefore able to use this to their advantage in their own warehouses, thus transforming the way that orders were picked and delivered. At the time, this technology was very much ahead of the rest of the industry – but lots of changes and advances have been made since.
The main issue with these systems was that they required barcodes to move around, and they also couldn’t work in close proximity to humans – meaning that they needed empty space to work within. The technology in the industry has now been developed to the extent that this is no longer a problem, and the techniques used by these machines allows them to work around people in environments that can sometimes be quite hectic.
Experts believe that it is all about enabling the robots to make key decisions on their own. This includes finding the best possible route to their destination, and knowing when to increase or decrease speed based on traffic flow. The wider range of options means that you can program the robots with many different algorithms, which will allow them to become much more involved in warehousing.
The removal of the need for barcodes is set to be the most significant advance in recent years – as it means that no areas of the warehouse are off-limits. This leaves robots able to complete processes right from start to finish, without having to rely on human intervention part way through. It certainly seems as though this latest technology has had a huge impact on the industry, and the potential for development is huge. This is likely to completely transform the way that warehouses can operate, giving the chance to make the entire assembly line or order picking process – depending on the industry in question – slicker and more effective than ever before.