Multi-Bot Fulfillment: The Path to Optimal Productivity
The collaborative nature of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) that work alongside human warehouse employees generates significant productivity gains quickly and cost-effectively. The increased productivity has made AMRs the warehouse fulfillment solution of choice for many leading logistics businesses.
The versatility offered by collaborative robots to add value to an operation both in terms of economy and safety has also seen the solution adopted by organizations in other industries including healthcare, pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, and defense.
The basic principle of the collaborative model is a flexible solution that coordinates human labor and robots to optimize productivity and warehouse/fulfillment throughput quickly, cost effectively, and in a scalable way.
The robots move autonomously throughout the warehouse following an optimized travel path, meeting human pickers at pick locations. As the collaborative multi-bot robots are not tied to human pickers, they are able to optimize their travel paths to each pick location, and allow workers to pick faster since they do not spend unproductive time walking between pick locations.
The AMR multi-bot solution has been developed with the fulfillment industry very much in mind but the progression has not come about by chance. Whilst automation offered many benefits to productivity, traditional solutions often lacked flexibility, adaptability, and scalability to meet fluctuations in demand.
The need for a seismic shift in warehouse automation developed when it became evident that incrementally improving current workflows was not always the best path to optimal productivity.
There was an urgent need to rethink how processes should be implemented to improve workflows and enable the operator to reach their goal faster and more efficiently.
The arrival of the multi-bot solution represents a new paradigm for warehouse automation helping to revolutionize productivity levels and making other robotic solutions, such as the follow-bot, of limited effectiveness as they achieve only nominal improvements over pushing carts around.
Associates are still tethered to the follow-bot and the technology has had more impact on reducing the physical burden of pushing a heavy cart than it has on improving productivity.
Keep in mind that multi-bots did not arrive overnight. They are the product of a combined 250 years of warehousing and logistics expertise and finessing various fulfillment models until the perfect balance of function and design was achieved.
By applying its knowledge to the problem at hand —optimizing the AMR solution —Locus has honed the system’s design by eliminating operational inefficiencies.
The flexibility of the Locus Robotics’ solution means any picker can pick to any robot (“LocusBot”) at any location. For example, if a LocusBot is autonomously moving throughout its assignment route for an order that has three different items in it, each of these items could potentially be picked by three different pickers, depending on their location in the warehouse. The picker only needs to move to the next nearest robot, speeding up pick rates and shortening order cycle times.
There are myriad benefits to the AMR multi-bot system in terms of higher productivity, faster cycle times, and greater throughput. Locus Robotics’ latest eBook, Multi-Bot Fulfillment: The Path to Optimal Productivity, goes into these benefits in detail.