The e-commerce ecosystem is changing quickly, and supply chain systems are working hard to keep up and meet the evolving needs of consumers.
The rapid rise of online shopping, also known as the Amazon effect, and shorter product life cycles are making it harder for distribution centers to handle orders with traditional methods.
In addition, faster delivery times demand more efficiency in the supply chain system, which compels businesses to understand how different technologies can help to make their order fulfillment more productive and profitable.
One such technology in the spotlight today is robot autonomy.
What is robot autonomy?
A robot can carry out several tasks independently and make decisions without human intervention. In other words, a robot can perceive, reason, and function in an isolated environment without frequent human supervision. This ability of robots is known as robot autonomy.
Autonomous robots on the market today include autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), automated guided vehicles (AGVs), and collaborative robots (cobots).
These robots utilize sophisticated onboard sensors, cameras, and maps that integrate with the software. They make decisions using the data received from sensors and cameras, and they function based on the instructions coded in the software.
This advanced combination of software and hardware helps them quickly adapt to environmental changes and handle random situations independently.
Autonomous robots can perform several tasks in a distribution center, from picking up orders to sorting, packing, and moving goods. Besides, they can benefit a distribution center in several ways.
Here we take a closer look at some of the major benefits of implementing robot autonomy in your distribution center.
1. Enhanced Flexibility
Autonomous robots function primarily based on onboard sensors such as LiDAR, safety laser scanners, and cameras. Instead of following preset paths, these robots dynamically move through their own pathways, navigating obstacles autonomously.
These robots can also easily switch between different tasks and environments because they are more flexible than other automation technologies, which usually require more time and work to re-program and adapt to the new working envelope.
2. Improved Security
In a conventional distribution facility, machines like forklifts that people operate don't have enough built-in safety features. On top of that, humans may get distracted or fatigued while using a machine for longer periods, which can increase the chances of an accident.
On the other hand, the accurate yet real-time data from sensors and cameras enable autonomous robots to interpret and comprehend their surroundings, allowing them to operate freely without colliding with people or machines in the vicinity.
Therefore, autonomous robots eliminate human errors and make distribution centers a safer workplace for everyone.
3. Better Worker Experience
The terms "automation, "robot autonomy," and 'robotic automation" evoke feelings of uncertainty and anxiety in the workplace. Whenever a business proposes implementing robotics or other automation tools in their facility, there is always a question of how these ideas will be received and used by the workers.
Most of the time, workers will be happy to see autonomous robots in the workplace. Robots will give them a sense of power and help them do their jobs more efficiently and with less effort.
4. Exceptional Scalability
Implementing robot autonomy is possible by following a modular deployment system. That means you can start with a few robots and add more as your business grows and your needs change.
Such a system can save you from a high initial investment. You can also divert this saved capital to invest in other initiatives that could grow your business.
Achieve Autonomy with Sensors from Hokuyo
Sensors for robots are like eyes for humans. Hokuyo Automatic USA Corporation, a subsidiary of Hokuyo Automatic Co., Ltd. of Japan, offers a full range of industrial sensor products for a range of robot autonomy needs.
Our products include laser rangefinders (LiDARs), collision avoidance sensors, safety laser scanners, obstacle detection scanners, optical data transmission devices, and more.
At Hokuyo, we strive to meet the needs of our customers across different sectors by combining reliable technology, extensive product distribution, and outstanding service and support.