Ecommerce giant Amazon.com has introduced robots to their fulfilment centre in DuPont, Washington USA. This initiative, which commenced in June 2014, will be showcased in their $100 million fulfilment centre at the official opening in February 2015. The centre is the flagship for the company’s robotic technology.
The robots primary function is to work alongside the fulfilment centres 500 employees. Computer controlled, the robots carry out the heavy, potentially dangerous tasks, making the ‘state of the art’ fulfilment centre a safer workplace for its employees. The robots work independently of direct human control and therefore lower the risks of machinery-based accidents.
How it works:
• Computer driven robots travel along wires embedded in the floor and select items from the large warehouse
• The robots place the selected items onto computer controlled conveyor belts. These transport the products to the packaging area.
• The goods are packed into boxes and labelled for shipping.
• An algorithm determines the delivery service based on cost and timeliness
The benefits of using robotic technology in all warehousing and fulfilment services are:
• Employee safety – Removing employees from the theatre of warehouse activity will reduce the chances of machine related employee accidents.
• Increased speed of picking – The robot will pick goods for as long as necessary providing it receives the correct computer instructions. There is no need for comfort breaks.
• Improved accuracy of picking – The robot is driven to the correct picking location. There is no chance the location will be misread and the incorrect product picked.
• Reduction of log jams in the fulfilment process – When the complete picking, packing and shipping process is computer controlled. The robot will be aware if there is hold up at the next stage and can wait until it is resolved.
• Seamless process from order receipt to order delivery – In built computer audits should ensure checks at each stage of the process against the appropriate algorithm to ensure accuracy, consistency and timeliness.
If this technology is too expensive for your individual enterprise, it is another reason to engage a technology-savvy fulfilment company and reap the economies of scale,without the hefty capital investment.