Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) Come of Age

Robotic & automation

Technology / Robotic & automation 278 Views

Last week, I attended ARC Advisory Group’s Forum in Orlando, FL. The theme of the event was Driving Digital Transformation in Industry and Cities, and focused on how digitizing factories, cities, and infrastructure will benefit technology end users and suppliers alike. Over the course of the week, attendees had the opportunity to attend sessions that covered advanced analytics and machine learning, asset performance management, automation innovations, connected smart machines, cybersecurity and safety, industrial internet platforms, IoT network edge infrastructure and end devices, IT/OT/ET convergence, and smart cities. One of the sessions that I had attended with a supply chain focus was Autonomous Mobile Robots Come of Age.

This session, moderated by ARC’s Steve Banker, brought together speakers from robotics companies as well as end users in the warehouse. The panelists were Tyler Wolfe, Director and Solutions Architect at Framebridge, Alan McDonald, Senior Director of Continuous Improvement at GEODIS, Joe Lau, Director of Product Marketing at Fetch Robotics, and Bruce Welty, Chairman and CEO at Quiet Logistics and former Chairman at Locus Robotics. For reference, GEODIS is a Locus customer and Framebridge is a Fetch customer. As each company has different requirements and warehouse flow paths, flexible solutions are key. Both of these companies saw rapid improvements and benefits once the robots were deployed in the warehouse.

Fetch Robotics AMRs

Framebridge is an e-commerce custom framing company, which allows its customers to upload or mail in artwork or photography to be framed. As such, Framebridge was not looking for a typical warehouse robotic solution of picking items or transporting totes from a pick station to a pack station. Instead, the company was looking at ways to make its employees more productive. As the company grew, it knew it could no longer rely on warehouse employees moving the components of the custom framing process by hand trucks throughout the warehouse. This system meant that workers spent the majority of their time simply moving around the warehouse instead of producing. The Fetch robots would autonomously move the components to the different assembly stations within the warehouse, eliminating the need for employees to move them.

Framebridge looked at multiple companies and systems, including automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). The AGVs ....