‘Cobots’ At Your Service for Automated Material Handling

Being a retailer is not as easy as it seems to be. Implementation of appropriate solutions and assurance is streamlining warehouse processes for enhanced product qua

Being a retailer is not as easy as it seems to be. Implementation of appropriate solutions and assurance is streamlining warehouse processes for enhanced product quality is not less than a nightmare. They need some assistance to get their back to keep up their competitive edge in this ever-evolving world. They need to collaborate with robust technology to boost supply chain efficiency.

Did you know that the term ‘robot’ was first used by Czech writer Karel Čapek back in 1920? Priorly, the nomenclature robot is referred to as a hardware thing, but now this term is used in a broad array of manners to deal with software and hardware-based automation. Physical robots are utilized in several industries, especially to carry out such tasks referred to as four D’s: Dull (or demeaning), Dear (or expensive), Dangerous, and Dirty.

In this modern age, nothing is better than collaborative robots (cobots) that can provide material handling automation. From the transportation of goods to order preparation, cobots upgrade the sustainability and profitability of an organization’s supply chain. Several sectors and retail industries are already acquiring cobots. According to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the retail industry will record a turnover of more than $6 billion by 2022. It also depicts that the non-productive time of an organization’s employees is lowered by 85% when they work with collaborative robots.

Keep reading to know about the significance of cobots and their contribution to the supply chain.

What are Cobots?

Cobots are machines that are developed to interact with human beings in the warehouse ecosystem. They are also known as collaborative robots. The best part about cobots is they allow workers not to perform repetitive, hazardous, or complex tasks. Thanks to the innovative machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms. Due to those algorithms, this revolutionary material handling technology came into existence.

Cobots will not substitute operators over time. Cobots learn from operators how to function accurately, effectively, and efficiently. Cobots take care of most of the repetitive procedures. They allow employees to exclusively focus on the crucial tasks of the warehouse, such as making strategic decisions, data analysis, etc. moreover, cobots help increase the efficiency in picking and allow pickers to remain in their work area.

Examples of Cobots

Cobot, which is a robust material handling equipment, performs repetitive logistics tasks. Following are some examples of collaborative robots (cobots) in the warehouse:

  • Quality control: The technical inspection during the goods receipt process is a difficult task. It requires verification of quantities, the condition of pallets, and several other parameters. Integration of collaborative robots (cobots) with a camera enhances the efficiency of the entire process. Moreover, it also reduces the overall logistics cost of the company.

  • Picking: collaborative robots (cobots) constitute the major improvement because they are more flexible and agile as compared to traditional robots.

  • Packing and assembly: collaborative robots (cobots) are incorporated to optimize tedious manual processes such as packing goods, placing goods into pallets, etc.

Advantages of Cobots

Collaborative robots (cobots) are the most robust material handling solutions.  It provides a wide range of advantages. Some of the optimistic advantages of collaborative robots (cobots) are as follow:

  • Scalability and flexibility for installation: collaborative robots (cobots) assist in the optimization of several logistics tasks.  It streamlines the workflow operations in a warehouse.

  • Lower operating costs: collaborative robots (cobots) improve the overall efficiency of the warehouse and combat errors to optimize the organization’s resources.

  • Enhanced productivity: collaborative robots (cobots) run without a pause. They maximize throughput and help operators with more repetitive tasks and those which require more physical strength.

  • Greater precision: Implementation of this robust material handling equipment reduces the chances of error.

  • Increased safety: collaborative robots (cobots) are responsible for handling and fulfilling hazardous tasks, deterring the risk of accidents for both goods and operators.

Warehouse Cobot Regulation

The International Standard of Organization (ISO) launched a standard (ISO/TS15066) back in the year 2016 to consolidate a logistics solution. That standard regulates the safety requirements in the industrial ecosystem for effective cooperation between collaborative robots and operators. The agenda of the standard is the prevention of risks and accidents to operators during their working hours. This international directive also established criteria and guidelines for the appropriate design and implementation of the warehouse and its workflows for the assurance of worker’s integrity. For instance, the standard ISO/TS 15066:2016  indicates a suitable distance between operators and collaborative robots (cobots).

Industrial Robots vs. Collaborative Robots (Cobots)

The International Standard of Organization (ISO) launched the concept of industrial automation under a standard back in 2012 (ISO 8373:2012).

An industrial robot is a reprogrammable, automatically controlled multipurpose manipulator that provides robust automated material handling. Industrial robots are programmable in three or more axes, which are either mobile or fixed in one place for industrial automation applications.

The main and crucial difference between collaborative robots (cobots) and industrial robots is their role in the warehouse. Industrial robots are designed to substitute human beings. On the other hand, collaborative robots (cobots) as their name suggests assisting operators in warehouses to boost the efficiency, accuracy, and supply chain processes.

Following are some points that will help you better understand the difference between two optimistic material handling solutions: industrial robots and collaborative robots (cobots).

  • Industrial robots do not collaborate with operators in the warehouse. Contrary to this, collaborative robots (cobots) interact with operators in the warehouse and play a promising role in streamlining supply chain operations.

  • Industrial robots have limited movement and are heavy. On the other hand, collaborative robots (cobots) are not as heavy as industrial robots.

  • Industrial robots do not respond to unforeseen events. Industrial robots are pre-programmable. On the flip side, collaborative robots (cobots) improve their skills through revolutionary machine learning and innovative artificial intelligence algorithms.

  • Industrial robots are not great multitaskers. They carry out only one task at a time with maximum precision. Opposite to this, collaborative robots (cobots) execute several tasks at a  time with a high rate of accuracy and efficiency.

The Future of Warehouse Automation

There would be no wrong in saying that the future lies in collaboration between operators and automated material handling equipment (robots) in the warehouse. According to several research and analysts, automation will eliminate 16 percent of the present jobs, while automation will create 9 percent of new jobs by the year 2025.

But the question arises: why is this? This all is because of innovative and revolutionary artificial intelligence, machine learning, and deep learning algorithms. these technological advancements will substitute manual work. Moreover, such advancements will introduce new job profiles that add value such as content creators, robotics programmers, automotive specialists, etc.

The combination of cobots with warehouse management software boosts the productivity, profitability, sustainability, accuracy, and efficiency of logistics installations.

Talking of warehouse management software, MWI Solutions is the best of all when it comes to warehouse control systems, warehouse management systems, and order management systems. It provides a modular approach to solve complex business problems. The product of MWI Solutions called InterSort is the heart of every McCombs wall system. It has already been proven and implemented in several applications. it helps to amplify business growth and reach economies of scale.

Let MWI Solutions decide what is suitable for your business’s scalability and optimization now!

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