The latest research predicts: by 2027, the mobile robot market in material handling and logistics will reach US $75 billion. From the intelligent autonomous mobile robot (AMR), which transports materials in facilities, takes itself to the warehouse shelves of packers and shippers, to the mass delivery of airport baggage AGC (automatic guided vehicle), material handling will change more than ever before by 2019.
Robots have gone far beyond being used as static mechanized palletizers. The delivery truck can now reach the loading dock, insert the AGV system, and the robot will completely unload its pallet.
The pallet can then be accurately transported to its storage destination by an automatic forklift, and when no task is assigned, the AGV can move itself to the charging station and prepare for the arrival of the next batch.
By using mobile robot workers, enterprises can reduce labor costs, reduce damage to goods and reduce the risk of job-related injuries. In addition to saving labor costs, there are many logistics advantages to using an automated forklift system.
On the one hand, robots need less row space than people, which creates more available storage space in the warehouse. In addition, the rack itself can be configured deeper because the automatic shuttle system can move pallets from the depths of the forklift into the rack system.
Robots have not only changed the way we receive and store goods, but AMR, which uses intelligent navigation, is now disrupting the way we select, package and transport them. Now, computer systems and robotics not only mimic the way humans worked a decade ago, but are now using their unique capabilities to reinvent the transport process itself.
Today, the entire product shelf is moved to the packers, rather than the workers who spend a lot of time in the aisles looking for items to pick. This incredible concept is now being used in Alibaba's smart warehouse, where robots do 70% of the work.
The small AMR lifts the shelves a few inches from below and then shuttles along the narrow aisles to people waiting to pick up their orders. AMR can lift up to 500 kg of shelves and receive commands from a central computer via WiFi. This new method of material handling automation has increased production by 300%, while the need for labor has been reduced by 70%.
The future of material handling robot
The material handling industry is well suited to the robotics revolution and is likely to be undergoing more change than almost any other field. Many companies that use robots to improve their operational efficiency have opened the way for more innovative ways to increase production and provide superior customer service. As with the advances in robotics in most workplaces, there will be a new distribution of skills between people and machines, and many traditional jobs will change and new jobs will emerge.
The repetitive tasks of handling, selecting, packaging and moving goods seem destined to be taken over by AGVs or AMRS in large facilities. Small companies without robots may face greater challenges as they try to match the growing number of competing products.
The use of Cobot is also changing the "material handling" workplace. Instead of replacing workers, cooperative robots work with existing employees to make their work easier and safer. Either way, the future will favor experienced people to cooperate with robots or manage robot systems. This includes the additional personnel needed to manage the higher productivity created by robots, experienced people who bring robotics into the existing environment, and people trained to maintain these valuable new tools.
AGV, AMR, AUV and robot can help to deal with the traditional material handling challenges, and assist logistics enterprises to realize unmanned automation and intelligent work.