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Fulfilment system combines robots and machine learning

03 February 2020

GreyOrange has released its Fulfillment Operating System, which integrates GreyMatter software with the company’s series of mobile robots.

The solution is aimed at optimising fulfillment for companies with omnichannel and e-commerce needs and increase store efficiency by packing replenishment orders according to individual store layouts and preferences. It also expands the orchestration of data and actions across the company’s series of Ranger mobile robots.

Ranger robots are developed in concert with GreyMatter software and use machine learning to adjust decisions and behaviour based on real-time observations. Additionally, maximum-life engineering ensures every Ranger robot delivers ‘last and learn’ value. Communication among the robots and the GreyMatter central system incorporates that learning so the entire system continues to get smarter.

The robots are: 

  • Ranger GTP (formerly Butler) – Goods-to-person mobile robots that transport inventory up to 1500kg to workers for picking and packing.
  • Ranger Mobile Sorter (formerly Flexo) – Mobile sortation robots that operate in fleets to efficiently and fluidly move parcels from receiving through dispatch that is designed to avoid sortation bottlenecks that can occur with rigid systems, especially during periods of peak volumes.
  • Ranger Picking (formerly PickPal) – A picking robot designed to work in tandem with goods-to-person robots to either assist humans with picking orders or to pick orders autonomously in manned or unmanned warehouses.

Machine learning

GreyMatter intelligence is incorporated as a learning layer in the Ranger robots so that as they operate, they can adapt to what is happening within the distribution centre and externally, as order patterns and fulfillment expectations fluctuate. The robots communicate with each other and with the GreyMatter central system so it can continuously recalculate order fulfillment priorities and inventory movement patterns based on real-time factors such as order fulfillment commitments, actual fulfillment speeds, available resources and time remaining in dispatch windows.

“Many companies are struggling to keep up with expectations for same-day and next-day delivery along with store replenishment runs that are required two to three times per week or even daily,” said Samay Kohli, CEO, GreyOrange. “They are trying to meet modern fulfillment demands using software and hardware built for a time before Amazon changed the game for everyone by accelerating collective expectations.”

Many of the enhancements in GreyMatter are centred on data pattern intelligence and the ability of mobile robots to operate at scale across a distribution centre, including retrieving and placing inventory racks on multiple floors or mezzanines using elevator access. Together, GreyMatter and Ranger robots comprise a Fulfillment Operating System designed for fast-paced, high-volume, high-product-variety operations, unlike disparate hardware and software solutions built for an earlier time and interfaced together in a complex technology system.

High-Yield Fulfillment

GreyMatter further enhances prioritised order fulfillment at scale, both predictively and in real time, by continuously considering inventory positions, orders, promise dates, cost impacts, revenue implications, labour available, time available and fleets of robots available. The software then orchestrates how the company’s robots navigate across a distribution centre, working autonomously or alongside people, to ensure the right inventory is at the right place at the right time to fulfill the decisions made in priority order, even during times of peak pace and volume.

GreyOrange terms the outcome High-Yield Fulfillment, meaning the payoffs from orders filled and dispatched are greater than the tradeoffs from orders that could have been fulfilled earlier but were assigned a later fulfillment time by the system.

In 2018 XPO Logistics laid out plans to deploy 5,000 mobile robots from GreyOrange. Part of the strategic partnership stipulated that no other logistics provider could deploy GreyOrange robots in the UK, and a number of other territories. Other end users can source the GreyOrange offering.

 
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