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Mobile Robotics: Optimization Strategies for Manufacturing

Smart Robotics Make Distribution Centers Productive and Profitable

Mobile Robotics: Optimization Strategies for Manufacturing

Complex manufacturing operations use a significant amount of labor to transport parts or finished goods. In a large plant, this can utilize as much as 25% of the workforce. With labor availability at historic lows — and no relief in sight for a decade or more — the time is more than ripe for automated solutions capable of augmenting the shrinking labor pool.

In this environment, it’s easy to see why implementing mobile robotics is one of the fastest-growing strategies in the industry. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can enable cost-effective automation to be deployed quickly, on-demand, with minimal risk and infrastructural modifications. They also offer the benefit of easily scaling at whatever pace your operation requires. In particular, we’re seeing early successes with manufacturing applications like these:

Automated Machine Tending

While many manufactured goods are fabricated and assembled by automated equipment, parts or works in progress must often be moved from one machine to another. And since destinations can vary depending on the current workflow, this transport is usually a manual process.

AMRs equipped with roller tops are thriving in environments like these, enabling efficient, zero-touch material transport of bins weighing up to 80 kg. Working seamlessly with a manufacturing execution system (MES) or other supervisory systems, the robots minimize delays, eliminate transport errors, and ensure continuous operation of equipment by optimizing goods movement.

Roller-top AMRs can serve as a versatile robotic “bridge” between different conveyors in virtually any manufacturing facility. When not performing other tasks, they can also collect empty totes and return them to refill stations.

Kitting

AMRs offer dramatic productivity benefits in manufacturing environments by automating the movement of the rolling carts used to transport kits or finished products. They can travel over any floor surface smooth enough to handle a traditional cart pushed by a worker. Instead of spending more than half the day walking, workers can use the MES to instruct robots to pick up and transport items. Fabricated, assembled or kitted items are placed onto a cart beside the workstation and directed to their next destination. The robot is called to transport the cart to the next location within the workflow.

Pallet Conveyance

Pallet conveyance AMRs are an attractive alternative to forklifts and conveyors in many operations. Common applications include warehouse transport, movement of completed pallet loads from various operations (palletizing, wrapping, etc.), empty tote and pallet returns, and even trash removal. This increases operational savings by reducing the number of forklifts and operators needed for transport, enabling them to be repurposed for other value-added jobs.

See the AMRs at Work

To see how AMRs are working in real-world manufacturing applications, check out the links below:

Machine Tending

Kitting

Pallet Conveyance

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