Q: Why does any business invest in an automated material handling system? A: To make its existing processes more efficient! Automation reduces cost, increases speed, maximizes consistency and raises quality. Let’s take a look at how NextShift autonomous mobile robotics can be your secret weapon in winning the piece-picking battle for cost-efficiency.
Secret Weapon #1: Eliminating travel time and picker movements
For every order picked, NextShift autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) carry totes totally independently of human workers, freeing up 100% of picker time currently spent in travel and loading/unloading carts. In addition, optimized sequencing and clustering of picks minimizes the pickers’ movements between picks.
Tactical Value: Workers focus on picking only, instead of miles of tiresome walking.
Strategic Benefit: Picking any volume of orders requires only a fraction of the current work staff.
Secret Weapon #2: Increasing the speed of orders
When an independent crew of AMRs collaborates with pickers, each individual order is picked faster, but the overall order volume is also handled more efficiently, creating a work process that cuts total time-to-fulfillment and gets all orders to customers sooner.
Tactical Value: Each order is picked quicker, making it possible to ship sooner.
Strategic Benefit: Shorter fulfillment windows and on-time deliveries boost customer satisfaction.
Secret Weapon #3: Reducing Operating Costs
The return on investment for automation with collaborative robots is built on reducing labor costs and increasing fulfillment speed. With NextShift, workers no longer push carts from a marshalling area through the fulfillment area to pick multiple orders to those carts, then deliver the full cart to a shipping/packing area. For sites with expensive fixed conveyor systems, NextShift eliminates the drawbacks of these primarily batch-based solutions, such as the inability to flex easily to meet changing business requirements and volume variations. NextShift load balances pickers and orders across multiple pick areas and manages the workflow to optimize picking assignments and robot movements. NextShift pickers need only focus on picking items to empty totes in their assigned areas, as instructed by a picking app on a wearable device.
Tactical Value: Workers and robots are fully utilized, with no worker fatigue from cart transport. No costly infrastructure investment for inflexible conveyors.
Strategic Benefit: Lower burden for labor and infrastructure dramatically lowers costs.
Double Your Current Picking Efficiency
Standard robotic piece picking solutions force each worker to interact with a robot. These approaches are often called follow-me, wait-for-me or meet-me solutions. Whatever you call it, a fixed worker-to-robot ratio results in idle time, dwell time and limited order speed, placing an ironclad constraint on the value that can be achieved. NextShift robots are unconstrained. They pick up, transport and put down totes independent of the picker, which allows the system to optimize the flow of pickers, orders, and totes to achieve twice the efficiency of other solutions and produce an unrivaled return on investment.
In the next post we’ll take a look at how NextShift creates this unique robot-worker collaboration to optimize picking and order fulfillment like no other solution.