What You Will Learn
Retailers are experiencing a tectonic shift, no longer simply delivering product by the case or pallet weekly to retail stores, but shipping individual units, or “pieces,” to end customers in 24-hour on-demand mode. In parallel, aging populations and shrinking labor pools make it challenging to staff warehouses with enough “people” to support increasing e-commerce demand. Warehouses need to be located relatively far from population centers - requiring on the order of 50 acres of land - but they also need to hire hundreds of employees. That’s a tough equation to balance. For warehouse and distribution center jobs where high turnover and shortage of labor is extremely common, robotic solutions are needed to solve the “pieces and people” challenge and close the gap.
Maybe your organization is ready to make a strategic move and adopt robotic piece-picking systems as part of your fulfillment plans, or is considering the option. Unfortunately, nothing about your operation was designed with picking robots in mind. What should you think about and how close to “plug and play” have these systems become?
This session will start with a very brief overview on the state of robotic piece-picking systems. The core of the presentation will dive into the practical considerations, with examples, that will make it easier to form a plan or make a decision regarding transitioning some picking capacity in an existing operation to robotic automation.
Participants will learn from the presenters’ experience and will be encouraged to think about a range of topics, including:
- Items - what characteristics of your products are favorable for robotic systems and which might make it impossible, what can you do if you have a mix, and how should you think about putaway processes and packaging
- Workflows - what tasks can robotic systems perform and what can you expect from robotic decision-making as it relates to your inventory and quality processes
- Station layout - what accommodations need to be taken into account for robotic systems, such as for reach and vision limits, and how can you start without massive changes
- Software integration - how will your WMS or WCS pass jobs and commands to the robotic system and what information can you expect back
- Exception handling - what does this mean with robotic picking and how can you get started while minimizing changes to existing systems
- Your new robot fleet as part of the team - how are users combining the strength of their people with the new capabilities provided by robots
Armed with the information from this session, attendees will gain an understanding of how they might take the first steps toward leveraging robotic piece-picking automation for their business.