Automation has been a prevalent force in logistics for decades. What we once regarded as the stuff of science fiction has transformed into science fact. If you were to tour a modern warehouse today, you would likely witness robots in action — from robotic cranes skilfully picking goods from shelves to mechanical arms moving heavy items from pallets to racks, and autonomous carts cruising seamlessly alongside human co-workers.
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) are the latest technology transforming modern supply chains. By using advanced sensors, cameras, and navigation algorithms, these self-driving robots can transport goods and materials within a warehouse, efficiently and without human intervention. Considering the widespread adoption of automation in the logistics sector, some organisations have been hesitant to adopt AMRs. In this blog we explore the benefits of AMRs and tackle the barriers that could be hindering their widespread adoption.
Benefits to the Warehousing and Logistics Sector
AMRs are being utilised across various stages of the supply chain, including warehousing, order fulfilment, inventory management, and even last-mile delivery. They offer several game-changing advantages to warehouses and can be seamlessly integrated into the Warehouse Management System (WMS). This enables AMRs to autonomously navigate through aisles, pick and pack items, and transport goods throughout the facility. Their versatility makes them valuable assets delivering many benefits including:
- Efficiency and Productivity: AMRs can work continuously, delivering goods without fatigue.
- Flexibility: Easily adaptable to different tasks and layouts. AMRs are built to handle different load capacities, allowing them to transport goods of varying sizes and weights.
- Cost Savings: They can reduce labour costs by taking over monotonous and physically demanding tasks. This enables human workers to focus on more complex and value-added activities. They also reduce human error related costs.
- Safety Enhancements: By taking over tasks that require heavy lifting or repetitive movements, AMRs can reduce the risk of workplace injuries.
- Tracking and Analytics: Many AMRs come with real-time tracking and analytics capabilities, allowing inventory monitoring and data-driven decision-making to optimise processes.
- Sustainability: AMRs can contribute to greener, more energy-efficient operations.
What is Holding Companies Back?
Despite the many advantages, some companies hesitate to invest in AMRs. The perception of high initial costs often deters buyers and creates a barrier to entry. Alongside this financial concern, there is technology scepticism, fuelled by worries over the reliability of AMRs integration with existing systems. Lastly, a lack of internal expertise to implement and manage these innovative robots adds to the reluctance, as companies may feel ill-equipped to handle this new technology. These perceived challenges can hold companies back from fully embracing AMRs in their operations. Yet they don’t need to.
AMRs: More Cost-Effective Than You Think
The apprehensions regarding the cost of AMRs are often based on misconceptions. Here's how AMRs can be surprisingly cost-effective:
Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Though the initial purchase might seem high, the ongoing operational costs are often lower. By automating repetitive tasks, AMRs reduce labour costs. They also minimise errors and damage to goods, leading to further savings.
Increased Efficiency: AMRs can work around the clock without breaks, speeding up processes like picking, packing, and sorting. This leads to higher productivity and faster fulfilment times. They reduce errors and optimise routes, saving both time and money.
Scalability: AMRs can be scaled up or down based on demand, making them suitable for businesses of varying sizes. They allow companies to invest incrementally and grow their automation capabilities in line with business needs.
Flexibility: AMRs can adapt to different tasks, layouts, and workflows, providing a highly flexible automation solution. Unlike fixed automation systems, they can be reprogrammed and redeployed as needed.
Embracing the Future with AMRs
Autonomous Mobile Robots represent a significant leap forward in warehousing and logistics automation. They offer a robust set of benefits that can elevate efficiency, safety, and sustainability. While barriers to adoption exist, a closer examination of the total cost of ownership reveals that AMRs are more accessible and cost-effective than you think.
Companies seeking to stay competitive in a rapidly evolving market should consider the strategic integration of AMRs into their operations. By embracing this technology, businesses can position themselves at the forefront of innovation, ready to meet the demands of tomorrow’s supply chain.
The future of warehousing and logistics lies in automation, and AMRs are paving the way. Discover just how affordable AMRs are by calculating your return on investment with our ROI calculator.