There have been predictions that robots will replace human warehouse workers, but a new warehouse robot system shows how machines can work cooperatively with humans, with everything from pallet racking to order fulfilment.
When online retail giant Amazon bought the robot company Kiva Systems so that it could use Kiva robots in its warehouses, Kiva ceased selling robots to other companies. This left many fulfilment centres and warehouses without a key productivity tool.
There are several companies that have developed robots to fill the gap in the market following Amazon withdrawing Kiva robots. Most perform similar functions to Kiva robots in that they can locate products and pick them ready for dispatch.
Two ex-Kiva executives have formed a robot company, 6 River Systems in Waltham, Massachusetts. They decided to develop a collaborative robot that would not replace humans, but help them become more productive. Their robot, called Chuck, looks like a standard pick cart, but navigates on its own. It leads human workers to items, they can then put into one of the boxes the robot carries.
A touchscreen on the robot displays images of the item, the quantity needed, and the barcode ID. This system prevents warehouse pickers making errors.
Many people forecast that robots will take over some jobs, but 6 River Systems sees the future as robots working alongside human workers.
No matter what technology you use in your warehouse, a productive picking and dispatch system starts with efficient warehouse shelving systems designed and installed by Greenoaks.