Automated warehouse robots for material handling have become increasingly vital to distribution and manufacturing leaders as they look to stay ahead of the competition by leveraging new technologies. In exploring the evolving capabilities of intra-logistics robots, you’ll find it is now possible to automate even more processes and reduce time spent on labor-intensive tasks. In this guide, we’ll investigate the types of automated warehouse robots available today and their capabilities to help you to make informed decisions when designing or redesigning your own facility operations. Stay ahead of the competition with the right automation solutions for your business!
Material handling warehouse automation robots provide a reliable way to increase the efficiency and safety of warehouse operations. These robots can help with order picking, loading products onto pallets, and transporting them to their designated area. Automated warehouse robots can complete a variety of repetitive tasks, freeing up valuable human resources for higher-level activities. Modern-day warehouse robots come with sophisticated sensors that detect obstacles and prevent accidents or missteps, further enhancing the safety of warehouses. In contrast to previous generations of Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) these modern automated systems can not only transport product, but they can also interact with other equipment, thereby requiring less human intervention than ever before.
The navigation system of modern material handling robots requires no guides on the floor or markers on the wall. The robot has a facility map stored in its memory, enabling it to know where it is and to find its way to its assigned destination. Whereas old-style AGVs would simply stop if an obstacle blocked their path, modern Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) can avoid obstructions by simply swerving around them, or if needed, by taking an entirely different route.
The top 10 types of automated warehouse robots in use today are as follows:
- AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) robots: These are mobile robots that move along predefined paths, guided by magnetic tape, laser targets, or other means. They can be used for repetitive tasks such as transporting goods and materials along fixed routes.
- AMR (Autonomous Mobile Robots): These are advanced AGVs that move freely around the warehouse, adapting routes and operating behaviors as needed. They are very effective for tasks such as picking and transporting goods.
- ASRS (Automated Storage and Retrieval System) robots: These are robots that move along tracks inside custom structures, and are used for storing and retrieving goods in high-density storage areas. They are commonly used in warehouses for storing pallets or other large items.
- Picking robots: These robots are specifically designed for picking and packing individual items. They can be equipped with various tools such as grippers, vacuum cups, and cameras to handle different types of products.
- Palletizing robots: These robots are used for stacking and organizing goods on pallets. They can be programmed to handle different sizes and shapes of products, and can be integrated with other warehouse systems such as conveyors and AGVs.
- Sortation robots: These robots are used to sort and route products based on predefined criteria, such as size, weight, or destination. They can be used in conjunction with conveyor systems or mobile robots to automatically sort and route products to their correct locations.
- Inspection robots: These robots are used to inspect and quality check products. They can be equipped with cameras, sensors, and other tools to perform a variety of quality assurance and control tasks.
- Loading and unloading robots: These robots are used to load and unload goods from trucks, shipping containers, and other vehicles. They come in a variety of sizes and can be equipped with various tools such as grippers, vacuum cups, and conveyors to handle different types of products.
- Cleaning robots: These robotic floor scrubbers are used to clean and maintain warehouse facilities. They can be equipped with various tools such as vacuums, mops, and brushes to perform a variety of cleaning tasks.
- Maintenance robots: These robots are used to perform maintenance tasks such as painting, welding, and other repairs. They can be programmed to perform specific tasks, and can be integrated with other warehouse systems to perform maintenance tasks automatically.
These robots can help improve efficiency, accuracy, and safety in warehouses, and can help reduce labor costs and increase productivity. However, the implementation of these robots also require significant investments, careful planning and proper integration with existing warehouse systems and processes.
At Vecna Robotics, our focus as a company is to solve your most critical workflows and maximizing throughput by moving your pallets as efficiently as possible with Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). Here is a brief summary the types of pallet handling robots in our fleet and how they can help your operations right now:
Heading up the roster of modern warehouse automation robots is the autonomous forklift. Automated forklifts are essential tools for streamlining warehousing and manufacturing processes. Modern autonomous forklifts transport items with no human driver needed and can also hand off product to other equipment like conveyors, wrapping machines, and pallet stands / racks.
Forklift accidents are notorious, and one common cause is that the driver’s view is obscured by the load. Automated forklifts can always see what’s in front of them and on all sides. They can sense how heavy a load is and won’t attempt to transport a weight that is above their specification. They continuously calculate the maximum speed possible while staying safe – something human operators don’t always do.
The forklift robots can stay in constant wireless communication with a Warehouse Management System (WMS) and be tasked automatically by the WMS. These warehouse robots can also be allocated tasks using a remote tablet or an onboard interface. Best-in-class forklift robots like those from Vecna Robotics have onboard barcode scanners that enable them to verify the pallet they’re moving is the right one.
When a larger quantity of goods must be moved, an automated tugger can provide the answer. Acting as a locomotive and pulling a “train” of a varying number of carts behind it, the autonomous tugger is a real workhorse. Vecna Robotics metadata from existing customers shows these tuggers reduce the need for material handling personnel by over 50%. The tuggers cut traffic while improving safety and productivity. These automated warehouse robots use dynamic routing that optimizes the path they travel. They can plan the order of their drop-off locations based on real-time availability.
Automated co-bot pallet jack
Collaborative pallet jack robots (co-bots) fill in the gaps for those in-between jobs. Like the manual jack, the co-bot pallet jack is designed for nimble movement in tight spaces. This type of automated warehouse robot is optimized for replenishment, as well as for micro-workflows such as waste/dunnage retrieval, empty pallet transport, tote/cart consolidation, pick-to-packout, and other similar non-value-add tasks. The advanced sensing capabilities of the robot improves safety because it can always see 360 degrees around it, so collisions are avoided. And the physical exertion by workers is minimized, thereby preventing repetitive strain injuries.
Driverless pallet truck
For heavier duty transport jobs, including double-stacked pallets up to 8000lbs, the automated pallet truck excels at longer distance floor-level hauls. This type of automated warehouse robot is ideal for cross-docking and sortation, and picking and put-away. By reducing the need for a driver to be onboard for long-distance travel, efficiency is improved.
Getting your own automated robots
As demand for faster, more efficient warehousing processes increases, so must the technology used to meet that demand. Automated forklifts, autonomous tuggers, automated co-bot pallet jacks, and driverless pallet trucks are a few of the warehouse robots used to enhance accuracy, safety, and efficiency in warehouses while reducing labor costs and increasing productivity.
However, don’t let worrying about the unknown keep you from taking advantage of this technology. There are several considerations to keep in mind when automating a warehouse, but with the right approach and a supportive vendor, it can happen faster (and more cost-effectively) than you might think.
Need to know more? Reach out to a friendly and knowledgeable Vecna Robotics representative who can help you navigate your unique automation journey.