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March 31, 2022

Does Your Fulfillment Center Need a Smart Watch?

Author Icon Jeff Ashcroft

As one who’s run many warehouses of all shapes and sizes, I know that the more real-time information you can get on how your site is operating the better.

The real-time component is important as it’s much too late to hear about delays and issues when they’re already impacting your customers.

One of the amazing benefits of an autonomous mobile robot (AMR)-led fulfillment picking operation is the real-time insight that is readily available as the daily work is happening.

With AMRs that are managed by one integrated warehouse orchestration platform and the visualization of your operational data, you know almost immediately of any incidents that arise and can take action to adjust and resolve them—often before the issues can lead to customer service problems.

In addition to useful real-time data, an integrated AMR platform provides warehouse operators with important predictive insights into upcoming operational challenges before they happen.

The best way to think of this is that traditional reporting methods in fulfillment operations are really just looking in the rear view mirror at what has already happened.

Utilizing an AMR-enabled operation allows you to see the challenges your operation will soon be facing and work in a more predictive and proactive manner.

So how can autonomous mobile robots help facilitate warehouse and fulfillment operators to collect and utilize this data and insights?

As the AMRs move through the many aisles of fulfillment centers, they share a continuous stream of useful real-time data such as:

  • Where fulfillment associates are in relation to task requirements
  • Locations where there is congestion in the warehouse

This data provides supervisors and managers with a tool to address operational challenges—that can impact productivity and customer experience—as they happen, instead of hours later when it’s too late to course correct.

Specific areas that can be positively impacted by these insights are fulfillment center flow as well as labor planning and deployment. Three data sets that you could utilize together to predict future work needs and peaks include:

  • Current aisles in fulfillment operation
  • The work that will be needed in the next two hours
  • The amount of associates that will be needed in each section

These data points are extremely useful in identifying where and when unexpected spikes or peaks will happen in order to better manage them. If you know ahead of time that a certain item is being picked in record numbers, you can plan ahead to have the right staff in the necessary sections of your facility.

As on-site management resources are further stretched, and the size of fulfillment centers continues to grow due to higher order volumes, it becomes increasingly difficult for operators to keep their finger on the pulse of activity in their fulfillment centers.

In addition to the direct productivity benefits available through introducing AMRs, the data created and released can act like your smart watch does for your own health and fitness.

Just like a smart watch monitors your vital signs and measures actual activity performed on a real time basis, AMR-enabled systems are doing the same on a much wider scale to keep a tight handle on the key operational metrics that indicate the health of your fulfillment operations.

But the benefits don’t end there, as predictive insights can also significantly improve labor planning, giving you the levers needed to proactively manage and then staff for success based on the actual volumes coming at you.

Suffice it to say that for today’s fulfillment center operators, the time has now come to order your AMR smart watch, and of course this watch always says, “it’s time to augment your operational fulfillment data!”

Learn more about how to gain powerful, insightful, and actionable information about your entire operation with Locus Robotics’ fully integrated reporting tools.