Are you interested to use a mobile robot in your factory or warehouse? Do you think you can double or triple your productivity?
Well, read more to find out what an autonomous mobile robot (AMR) is all about.
What is an Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR)?
Any robot that can comprehend and navigate its environment without direct human supervision is considered an autonomous mobile robot (AMR). In other words, with a variety of sophisticated onboard sensors, computers, and maps, that would already typically enable AMRs to move around. Meaning, they can comprehend and interpret their surroundings in order to perform as asynchronous transportation.
And this is the primary purpose of the Autonomous Mobile Robot.
These sophisticated technologies work together with the warehouse management software (WMS) in a warehouse setting to give AMRs more freedom to design their own routes within a warehouse or facility. That means, recognizing and avoiding obstacles and rerouting themselves as required. As a result, the robot is far better equipped to handle the changeable environment that most order fulfillment operations offer.
These days, many AMRs can navigate past fixed barriers (such as buildings, racks, workstations, etc.) and variable obstructions thanks to various advanced sensors that allow them to recognize and interpret their surroundings (such as people, lift trucks, and debris).
AMRs Vs AGVs
AMRs and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) have many similarities but also have some key differences. The biggest of these distinctions is flexibility. Meaning, AMRs are not required to follow rigid, predetermined itineraries as AGVs. In contrast to AGVs, autonomous mobile robots choose the most effective path to complete each task and are built to collaborate with operators during picking and sorting activities.
These sophisticated technologies are coupled with the control systems of the warehouse in a warehouse or distribution center control, giving AMRs more freedom to choose their routes within the warehouse or facility. In the end, it is a robot that is more capable of collaborating with people in the dynamic environment provided by most order fulfillment operations.
Your processes and workflows can be more productive and efficient when using AMRs. This is often accomplished by completing boring and non-value added duties which many don’t need to execute manually. Examples include transporting, picking up, and dropping off product. This is important in order to release laborers to conduct other jobs (like picking, checking, or packing an order) that add value to the product/operation.
Types Of Autonomous Mobile Robots
As the AMRs continues to mature, they have already been divided into several diverse variants. They can each better adapted to carry out a certain kind of action, even though they are still a relatively new technology.
Because of this, debates on AMRs typically center on the function that the technology is intended to perform rather than a particular brand or model.
Typically AMRs are divided into 3 Categories:
- Inventory-moving AMRs inside a facility
- AMRs that help with the selection process
- Flexible sortation methods using AMRs
1. Inventory-moving AMRs Inside A Facility
AMRs that Move Stock and Products:
Moving inventory and goods from one location to another within a facility is often a low-skill duty that provides little to no value to the operation or product. Due to this, it was one of the first tasks that AMRs automated. Workers can continue to work in their core work area while having work carried to and removed away from them by AMRs, allowing them to focus on other, more productive duties. In the past, forklifts, conveyors, and AGVs were the immediate solutions available when an organization wished to automate cargo delivery within a facility. These methods, while successful, are often capital, workforce, and floor space-intensive.
Today, a variety of AMRs are available that were created precisely to close the functionality’s efficiency gap. They are made to pick up and drop off single cases, totes, and goods instead of only operating with big, heavy loads.
The precise AMR model will determine how these systems function.
AMRs that Help in Picking:
Order selection is one of the most expensive processes carried out inside an operation, not because it necessitates a high degree of expertise or training (although it can), but rather because it takes a long time.
In fact, up to 75% of the time required for picking is spent physically moving from place to place inside a facility. You have many alternatives when integrating AMRs into your pick operation. The most typical ones are:
- Order choosing AMRs
- AMRs that serves as a flexible sortation method
- AMRs that boost stock visibility
2. AMRs That Help With The Selection Process
Order Choosing AMRs:
AMRs come in a wide variety of designs intended to cut down on picking-related travel time. Bringing the goods to the selector decreases picker time travel. There are various ways that AMRs can be used to boost picking operations’ productivity.
As we define conventional picking, in this specific number of pickers move from one place to another, collecting SKUs along their journey and dividing them into different categories, after which they are placed on conveyors, trolleys, or physically carried. SKUs are placed in a stationary, forward pick region in some shelving or rack.
An AMR transports an order tote or bin to a rack or shelf location inside a zone during zone picking. The inventory needed to complete the demand can be chosen by a picker working in that zone from the nearby sites. The selector may be guided via pick-to-light, RF, paper pick lists, or enhanced vision.
The AMR will pick up the tote after the order is finished and carry it to the next terminal for further picking or to a packing station for actual shipping. This long and tedious task is repeated multiple times using multiple AMRs operating all the time and transporting the required items to the zones where they are needed. As a result, a worker can spare a lot of his time by actively collecting orders and spending less time looking for things.
3. Flexible Sortation Methods Using AMRs
Sortation is a crucial process that autonomous mobile robots can help with. Various handling technologies are available with multiple models. AMRs are fitted for a variety of sortation methods, from conveyor rollers to tilt trays and cross belt systems, including:
- Speedy parcel sorting
- Online store order completion
- Returns management
- Temporary sorting
High Speed AMRs
All these tasks are done using a number of High Tilt-Bot tilt tray AMR models that make it simple to perform high-speed AMR sortation. These bots operate close to each other, which makes it easier for placement or for order positions.
Humans or robotic arms insert an object into the opening on the upper part of the TiltSort-Bot. The bot launches toward its target chute using the quickest route when the camera on the top of the bot reads the barcode. When it reaches the position of the chute, it stops parallel to it, tilts the object of the bot, and drops it down the chute. Sacks or other containers are used to collect items or packages. Once finished, an operator or AMR transports the order to shipping. To continue sorting, another AMR brings in an empty container.
Using a HighTilt-Bot sorter AMR, sorting on the floor and fulfilling the orders can be done. These units have a tilt tray top and stand 42″ tall. This system can be enlarged or compressed based on daily needs and operates directly on the floor.
There are induction stations on the sides. Each station receives deliveries of items or packages. The operator places the item on the bot, the barcode facing up. The AMR travels the shortest distance to its order location after the barcode is read by the camera above. A gaylord, tote, or pallet position could be the final destination. When it is parallel to the position, the AMR stops and tilts the object into the storage site.
Consolidation and return sortation:
In this application, AMRs deliver an open gaylord, bin, or pallet to a workstation. They line up in a queue. AMRs move into position as one is finished and departs. The operator is instructed to place the correct quantity of items in the bin. Up to completion, this procedure is repeated.
The AMR will then transport the finished order to order fulfillment locations such as pick, shipment, or a buffer storage. This application’s architecture and implementation are incredibly flexible. This solution reduces operators’ wasted walk and search time and is adaptable to changing company needs.
AMRs that Increase Inventory Visibility:
Modern order fulfillment depends on having clear, transparent inventory visibility—knowing where the product is in your warehouse, distribution center, and overall supply chain. However, coordinating inventory transfer and reconciliation can be difficult and time-consuming for vast and complex enterprises.
Automation made possible by a fleet of AMRs directly integrated with the system dramatically reduces the time and money needed to maintain maximum production and order accuracy.
As we know, no inventory system is flawless. And that’s mainly because things happen that result in the wrong amount of merchandise being received, stored, refilled, or picked being recorded. Too many reasons. Each of these tasks is directed by the system, which also includes checking procedures to identify inconsistencies and anomalies in the inventory. Additionally, it controls cycle counting to detect anomalies before they cause operations issues.
Hence, AMRs can make your life a little easier when you “delegate” some of these tasks to them.