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Smart warehouses

02 September 2019

Writing about warehouse robots this morning has got me thinking about software and AI.

The On-demand automation story details what happens when robots meet the cloud, according to analyst IDC.

The IDC research highlighted a key challenge in the supply chain.

‘The biggest source of waste in the supply chain has always been non-value-adding (or value-destroying) movement of material; for example, when a product is moved between locations and no improvement that the customer is willing to pay for is made. Essentially, any moving of a pallet, a case, or a single item that costs more than the value added by the movement can be viewed as waste.’

IDC says autonomous mobile robots are built to reduce this waste in the supply chain and in the process free up people to focus on adding value.

‘In addition to wasted movement of material, human movements can be considered waste as well. Anytime a person is used to scan something, push a cart through a facility, or perform other low-value tasks that can be automated with AMRs, it becomes an opportunity to increase operational performance with the help of AMRs.’

That is true but regardless of the carrier, be it human, robot or mechanical vehicle, or some combination of them all, it is the software directing them that will be most responsible for reducing waste. After all, a poorly directed robot will still make a lot of wasted movements.

If you are in discussions with robot providers, it is definitely well worth spending at least as much time on the software and artificial intelligence the firm is using as the hardware. And don’t forget the human resources they will devote to implementation and support.

 
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