For many companies with manual operations, reaping the benefits of automation is an obvious goal, but it can be difficult for them to know how to get there. Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV), and Automated Mobile Robot (AMR) systems from Dematic are often a great way to start. AGVs and AMRs are fully autonomous robots that move and transport items in production, warehouse, and distribution centres without manual intervention or permanent conveying systems they work well with existing operations, easily slotting into supply chains to improve safety and efficiency.
Unlocking workforce potential
A common misconception surrounding automation is that it will render manual labour, and therefore the workforce, obsolete. In the case of AGVs and AMRs (collectively referred to as mobile automation), the opposite is in fact true. Robotics such as these not only saves employees from monotonous tasks that lead to injuries such as repetitive strain syndrome, but also the chance to elevate career prospects by investing in long term talent development. Employees can be redeployed and retrained, especially to acquire the skills necessary to service and maintain the mobile automation equipment.
Mobile automation has also been useful when it comes to protecting workforces from the dangers of the pandemic. AGVs and AMRs have been vital in minimising human-to-human interaction by transporting inventory without manual intervention, allowing for greater social distancing between employees.
Mobile automation can improve productivity significantly by automating the travel between the workstations where orders are allocated to carts and the inventory picking area. This time saved is invaluable. For example, in the food and beverage industry the picking of specific items is an extremely time consuming and labour-intensive process. With the use of AGVs and AMRs, instead of walking the entire warehouse to pick goods, the pallet is brought to the pickers so they can focus on steps of the process that cannot be automated such as quality control.
When it comes to meeting increased and unexpected demand, improvements in efficiency must be sought in every area. These so called ‘marginal gains’ add up over time leading to significant improvements. Mobile automation is reliable, robust, and flexible and can be deployed in a number of ways throughout a warehouse operation to generate these marginal gains.
For example, Dematic AGV systems are known to reduce product damage by limiting manual touches, ensuring products aren’t needlessly wasted. Additionally, AGVs improve shipping speed and accuracy with automated product movement from shelf to shipping — they are the perfect link in an end-of-line automation chain, working effectively with robot palletizers and stretch wrappers to pick finished pallets from conveyors for automatic transport.
AMRs allow warehouse employees to pick items for multiple orders at once, which is particularly helpful at times of peak demand. This not only improves efficiency by reducing warehouse travel time, but creates a better working environment by lessening employee fatigue.
Slotting in with ease
Making changes to any part of a business is never a straightforward path and of course the same can be said for automation. Whilst the full-scale automation of a production line can bring countless benefits, many retailers might not currently be in a position to overhaul their entire operation for financial or logistical reasons. Companies face a difficult choice between committing to change they aren’t ready for and risking falling behind their competitors without automation to optimise their supply chain.
Dematic mobile automation systems make that choice significantly easier by providing operations with effective automation solutions that are able to slot seamlessly into existing warehouse set-up without taking up additional space. Both AGVs and AMRs are specialised in optimising existing storage, picking, and transport functions in a wide variety of environments where space is at a premium. For example, Very Narrow Aisle (VNA) AGVs can replace the cranes in an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) and service multiple aisles for additional flexibility.
AGVs & AMRs adapt to the task at hand without complex installation procedures, making them a quick, easy, and low-cost way to upgrade your facilities without a complete overhaul. They can easily be deployed during working hours and implementation does not interfere with day-to-day operations.
“At Dematic, we pride ourselves on providing automation solutions that best fit the needs of our customers — whether that be full scale transformations or more subtle gradual modifications. Automation doesn’t always mean a complete overhaul, and mobile automation offers a flexible and scalable gateway into your automation journey.”