AI used as alternative to warehouse robots

Many warehouses are considering purchasing robots for order picking, but artificial intelligence (AI) software has been named a better alternative for many locations.

According to a report by Logistics Manager, robots are not always the best solution to make order picking faster in the warehouse. The report says that many warehouses have doubled picking rates by using AI software that plans picking routes for human workers with trolleys. It has been estimated that human warehouse operators spend between 40% and 70% of their time picking items from shelves or racks. AI reduces travel distances and journey times.

Another reason why robots are not used is that they are restricted in the type of items they can pick. Some warehouses process different types of orders, such as those direct to consumers and wholesale orders to retail outlets. A robot may be able to pick a single box off a shelf, but it may not be able to handle a full pallet of items. A furniture warehouse can hold a large range of items, from small tables to large sofas and beds. Robots are not versatile enough to pick a full range of furniture.

As well as planning picking routes, AI can allocate storage space according to order volumes, with high-demand items located nearer packing stations and seldom-ordered items placed farther away.

Amazon and other large warehouse operators are using more and more robots. Small-to-medium warehouses, on the other hand, rely on equipment from their warehouse equipment supplier, combined with human operators and AI warehouse management systems to pick orders quickly and accurately.

Posted by Derek
10th May 2021
Retail & Warehousing

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