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Robots have come a long way from their inception until today as they are able to do almost any task. Robotics technology has changed the image of the current world. Artificial intelligence (AI) has come a long way, and now robots are more sophisticated than ever. AI-powered robots are based on principles of human intelligence which are defined as the way machines imitate human intelligence to perform simple and complex tasks.
As in any other industry, AI-powered robots have become an essential part of the warehouse industry as well. Previous robots were only able to perform repetitive tasks such as moving platforms along predetermined paths, with small detours possible to avoid obstacles. New robots may travel autonomously to automate nearly every activity in the natural environment of handling goods of various sizes and shapes.
With the increasing spread of the Internet and the boom of the e-commerce industry, companies have begun to invest in automation, which has greatly accelerated with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, integrated automation is essential to meet supply chain challenges, demand fluctuations, SKU proliferation, and delivery demands.
AI enables warehouse automation with AMR (Autonomous Mobile Robots), clutch, and container picking systems to operate more efficiently than ever before. Several factors are responsible for driving AI-powered warehouse automation:
Repeated operations: There is no doubt that operations in warehouses are inherently monotonous, and advanced robots are required across warehouses to perform such tasks. AI-enabled robots are very effective in such operations because they help sort, pick, and place products. Also, inventory management can be easily maintained by the smart software behind these bots.
High labor costs: Labor cost is the main cost driver for any industry. In order to reduce labor costs, combat competition, provide fast delivery and meet the increasing demand of consumers, warehouse automation is the best solution. Also, unlike operations on the manufacturing floor or in the automotive industry, the majority of tasks in the warehouse are fault tolerant. Bots can retry if they accidentally drop something in a warehouse as long as they can do so quickly and successfully without destroying products.
To make the supply chain strong: Supply chains have been significantly affected globally by the COVID-19 pandemic, with workforce availability being a challenge. Therefore, to avoid such contingencies in the future, robots offer a great solution by bridging the labor shortage gap. They are programmed to perform repetitive tasks so that humans can focus on more valuable tasks. AI-powered robots have given them an added advantage in performing repetitive tasks with greater accuracy.
To ensure safety in the workplace: Robots can be used to automate labor-intensive tasks and thus increase workplace safety, as well as productivity. Monotonous tasks lead to mental and physical exhaustion in the workforce which leads to lower productivity. AI-enabled robots help reduce mental stress by reducing the chances of errors so workers can focus on more useful tasks.
A robot-driven future in warehouse management: aIts companies are exploring ways to increase operational efficiency and productivity, AI will continue to push the envelope of automated deployment in warehouses, and warehouse management and AI will become more connected. Supply chain executives need to consider and address the operational effectiveness limitations in warehouses with the potential for warehouse automation using robots and artificial intelligence.