Industrial Robots Automating Logistics

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The rapid growth of e-commerce has made logistics a critical aspect of the supply chain. More consumers are opting for ordering online rather than shopping in person. Warehouses and fulfillment centers are running at full capacity trying to keep up with the high volume of orders. Even at full capacity, most warehouses cannot keep up with fulfillments which has led to the adoption of robotic automation in logistics.

For the past several years the deployment of industrial robots in logistics has experienced robust growth. The past two years the growth of logistics robots has exploded as online shopping has reached record highs while manual labor has dropped to critical shortages. It is estimated over 600,000 new robots will be added to warehouses and fulfillment centers worldwide for the next several years. Robots are helping companies keep up with high order volumes and getting their products to consumers in as little time as possible.

What Robots are Automating Logistics?

There are a few different types of robots being used to automate logistics. Articulated robots are one of those types. Since articulated robots are capable of completing similar movements as humans, they are ideal for automating manual tasks. The FANUC M-10ia is an articulated robot that can be deployed in warehouses or fulfillment centers. Articulated robots are able to automate multiple types of applications, providing greater flexibility to logistics operations. The M-10ia can be used to automate one task one day or several days in a row and then redeployed for another task. Or it may be used to automate several different tasks within the same day.

Collaborative robots are another type of robot used in logistics. Since these robots are designed to safely interact with people, they can easily fill in labor gaps or provide assistance to workers. The Universal UR5 can be used to lift boxes, sparing workers from potential stress injuries.

Other types of robots being used in logistics include automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and drones. AGVs are used to transport inventory around warehouses. While drones are used to locate and scan inventory.

What Applications are Automated by Robots in Logistics?

There are several applications that can be automated by robots in logistics. The main ones include:

  • • Sorting - Industrial robots can be used to sort items from bins or assembly lines. The Motoman MH24 can quickly scan and identify items, helping to speed up the sorting process.

  • • Palletizing - Palletizing is a common application for robotic automation as it can involve heavy lifting and repetitive movements. The FANUC M-410ib/160 is ideal for robotic palletizing.

  • • Part Transfer - Six axis robots can be used to transfer parts from one work area to another. Robots can quickly retrieve products and move them to packaging where they can be prepared for shipping.

  • • Packaging - Robots can also automate the packaging process. Automating packaging with robots ensures products are safety and securely packaged, preventing damage from occurring during shipping.

  • • Inventory - Robots can even be used to count and track inventory. Robots can quickly scan shelves when equipped with cameras and sensors. Data can be collected and transferred to a centralized platform such as an IoT (internet of things). Companies can view inventory data in real-time, preventing unexpected shortages.

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