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Software, remote monitoring and analytics can replace manual processes

April 8, 2022
24/7 availability helps collaborative automation to increase throughput

Kristian Hulgard is general manager, Americas division, at OnRobot.

Which technologies have allowed warehouses to increase throughput rates while expanding product ranges and still maintaining accurate order fulfillment?

Kristian Hulgard, general manager, Americas division, OnRobot: Collaborative automation systems are proven to improve throughput across a range of warehouse applications from packaging and palletizing to inspection. Due to their 24/7 availability, collaborative automation systems enable warehouses to increase throughput even in the midst of the current labor shortage.

Also read: Warehouse automation with the human touch

The correct tooling is critical to the success of collaborative automation deployments. For example, there are specialist grippers designed for use on collaborative packaging and palletizing applications. Such grippers are designed to handle all sorts of packaging types, including different thicknesses of cardboard.

Because of the warehouse’s physical nature, how much of the facility’s hardware can be replaced with software in order to facilitate easier upgrades, expansions and reconfigurations?

Kristian Hulgard, general manager, Americas division, OnRobot: Software with remote automation monitoring and data analytics features is a key component of manufacturing facilities and can replace a huge number of manual processes. For example, 24/7 collaborative application monitoring software can replace manual robot inspections, saving companies a lot of time and money (Figure 1). Additionally, application performance monitoring software that uses standard industry KPIs, such as overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), can replace manual application performance processes. And, due to its flexibility, collaborative automation can easily be reconfigured and redeployed to take on new applications.

Given the extraordinary percentage of manual operation in most distribution centers, will the 24/7 fully autonomous warehouse order-fulfillment center ever become commonplace?

Kristian Hulgard, general manager, Americas division, OnRobot: That depends on a lot of factors, including the warehouse’s business model, its size and energy input vs. labor availability and costs. The technology to support the 24/7 fully autonomous warehouse order-fulfillment center exists already, but they won’t become commonplace unless warehouse companies call for it.

Collaborative automation is flexible and safe enough to support warehouses that are fully automated and warehouses that retain human workers, providing warehouses with some comfort in their automation investment no matter which way the technology or automation trends develop.

About the Author

Mike Bacidore | Editor in Chief

Mike Bacidore is chief editor of Control Design and has been an integral part of the Endeavor Business Media editorial team since 2007. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning multiple regional and national awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at [email protected] 

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