The seasons have changed again, and for children and young adults alike, that means the start of a new school year and lessons to be learned. For those of us in the industrial world, our school days may be over, but the learning process is never truly complete, especially when seeking to add improved efficiency and productivity to the supply chain. We don’t need to look far to learn valuable lessons about technology and basic warehouse improvements.
We get asked about the Amazon and their drone technology, but more often customers what to know what lessons can we learn from the ecommerce giant, Amazon as it spearheads the rapidly-evolving robotic services market? Let’s take a closer look at three lessons that can be gleaned from the road that Amazon has paved for warehouse processes and supply chain productivity.
- The Speed of Change is Faster than you Can Imagine. In the years leading up to Amazon’s acquisition of specialized robotics firm Kiva Systems, experts believed that it would be at least 2025 before robots became mainstream in warehouses. Amazon bought Kiva in 2012. Fast forward five short years and the number of robots being used by Amazon’s fulfillment centers has grown exponentially. As of January 2017, they had 45 thousand robots working alongside humans in 20 of their warehouses across the globe.
- Competitors Will Always Fill the Void. When Amazon realized the goldmine they had discovered with the Kiva robots, they began the process of acquiring them for themselves and then renamed the company – Amazon Robotics. All Kiva production was utilized internally. Fortunately, one thing this has taught the industry is that when there is a need it will be met. Competitors have emerged to fill the void and create their own robots, including AutoStore and Locus Robotics. To see more, Forbes recently released a list of competing robotics that will open up the market further. Read More.
- Robots Will Take on Expanded Tasks in Warehouses. When Amazon first started using robots for simple picking tasks, they were fast, efficient, and accurate. What could be better, right? Well, they have quickly been developed to do other tasks such as perceive depths as they are mobile, move inventory around warehouses, pick-pack-and-load multiple items in a single box, understand language perception, recognize objects, control software, and understand human voice commands. Right Hand Robotics is working at trying to automate piece picking, with some very promising early results
If your warehouse has not begun the switch to robotics, you may want to discuss options and improvements to optimize your company and “Solve It Smarter.”