Logistics Robots Are Increasingly Used for Improved, Efficiency and Accuracy
Robots are increasingly used by European logistics companies because they help automate processes and improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Logistics robots are mostly used in storage facilities and warehouses to move, store, and transport goods.
Recent Developments and Future Trends
According to the World Robotics 2018 Service Reports by the International Federation of Robotics, in 2017 alone, some 69,000 logistics robots were installed in storage facilities. This is an increase of over 160 percent compared to 2016. Experts predict that businesses will purchase a total of 485,000 units between 2019 and 2021.
While in 2017 some 80 percent of storage facilities relied on manual labor, this is about to change in the near future. The whole supply chain will possibly be automated in a more distant future, including processes such as transshipment and ship loading and unloading. Robotic ports will be used to load cargo on ships and in fact, the first robotic port (Caofeidian in China) is already operating.
Applications of Robotic Units
Logistics robots are mainly used to move along predefined trajectories, and they operate as mobile automated guided vehicles. They move goods for shipment, distribution, and storage and unload and load containers. Until recently, the fact that products vary in size, weight, and shape made automating unloading and loading a complex task.
New generation robots, however, are equipped with advanced software and 3D laser vision that enable them to scan goods in containers and optimize unloading and loading. Custom packaging and stationary piece picking are other applications of robotic units. Custom packaging is often required for shipments at bulk rate discounts and for big sales.
Collaborative robots work alongside warehouse workers to complete orders. Shipments are also sorted in warehouses by picking goods from one box and moving them to another. Industrial robots are capable of handling this because they are equipped with advanced vision systems.
This allows them to recognize different types of products. Robotics arms are also used in warehouses to sort goods on assembly lines or stacked in bins. Other tasks that robotic units are able to handle include delivering lab and medicine specimens to laboratory and hospital settings, counting inventory, and transporting items outdoors.
The members of the International Forwarding Association closely follow robotic industry trends to get the most of advanced technologies and their many applications.
One of the main benefits of automation is better uptime compared to manual labor. Obviously, robots are able to handle larger quantities than manual laborers as they do not need long breaks and do not get tired as humans do.
This results in higher profits for services providers due to significant productivity gains. Another benefit for businesses is improved accuracy and throughput as robots are able to determine the best routes throughout facilities. This also results in a reduction of order errors. In fact, automation improves efficiency throughout all stages, from package handling and order booking to tracking and shipment of goods.