Warehouse operators accelerate automation plans to keep up with consumer demand

Experts in the logistics and supply chain industry know that while 2020 was an extraordinary year with huge obstacles to overcome, it was also part of a larger pattern that had been building as consumers increasingly purchased online.

The mounting pressure behind promises of faster, cheaper shipping and more consumer purchasing power exploded into the public eye last year leading those on the outside to believe this was a one-off event and would simmer down to more “normal levels” as soon as the health crisis eased.

For logistics and shipping professionals, we know this was an unpredictable catalyst that has now moved supply chain challenges to another level – perhaps permanently – as the “new normal” shifts to include more online shopping.

How then do retailers, warehouses and logistics providers stay on top of the curve and, hopefully, move beyond trends into proactive B2B solutions?

As Goods to Persons logistics companies look to expand, they need solid technology platforms to build upon so they don’t just keep up with demand but move ahead of the competition.

The current solutions are more than trends. They are the new building blocks to faster and more efficient warehousing, giving employees more flexibility to react faster to evolving business needs.

We have outlined the two most important new technology and automation solutions we see will give Goods to Person companies the edge they need.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

A new generation of mobile robot has arrived, working alongside the industry standard Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs).

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) can drive regular routes throughout warehouse floors without the need for external or specially built infrastructure systems to support them.

Even more important than previous generations, AMRs can adapt to rapidly changing and dynamic work environments thanks to onboard navigation systems and localization technology such as Accerion’s Triton system.

These key differentiators make AMRs the most urgent upgrade to autonomous Goods to Person systems in years.

In fact, according to Interact Analysis, industry ordering records show that “nearly 20,000 AMRs for use in fulfillment supporting order picking were shipped in 2019, double the number shipped the previous year and more than doubling the total number of AMRs in use.”

AMRs provide the flexibility and scalability operators need so they can quickly realize a return on their investments.

Warehouse Automation

With more and more consumers moving their purchasing power online, logistics and supply chains are feeling the pressure to deliver shipping timeline promises of retailers. A recent study found that “in 2015, five-day delivery for the average online consumer order was standard; in 2019, it moved to two days.”

In Goods to Person markets, this is surely felt along all points on supply chains. To help keep up with demand, warehouse technologies are becoming more automated wherever possible while keeping workers in supervisory positions on their toes to ensure smooth warehouse operations.

AMRs also find their place in these automated warehouses, integrating seamlessly in existing physical structures without needing new infrastructure to support them.

According to a November 2020 Conveyco article, “Forty-one percent of consumers are willing to pay a charge for same-day delivery while nearly a quarter (24%) of shoppers said they would pay more to receive packages within a one- or two-hour window of their choosing.”

This changes everything.

Warehouse automation needs to keep pace with consumer demand as it continues to shoot skyward and shipping times become shorter.

There is good news, though, and this is where Accerion comes in.

Triton is the world’s only 100% infrastructure-free localization technology for mobile robots. Triton enables AMRs to drive autonomously in the warehouse, solving several challenges with one compact, affordable product.

How does Triton work?

Triton localization systems for AMRs are infrastructure-free, so there are no embedded guiding wires, no QR codes, no extra features for Lidar.

Triton enables AMRs to follow a virtual grid with sub-millimeter accuracy, operating seamlessly in dynamic environments at a speed of 1.5 to 2 meters per second.

Accerion’s positioning system ticks off all the boxes for logistics operators – especially Goods to Person – who want to accelerate automation.

Last but not least, Triton is economical. Triton’s dynamic and accurate vehicle operation means operators can do more with fewer AMRs, significantly reducing costs.

Triton is the right technology at the right time to further accelerate industrial automation, giving Goods to Person logistics operators a competitive advantage.