Much of the physical work involved with the supply chain still requires human involvement. Humans have to stock, restock, carry, or drive the products directly to warehouse shelves.
They even have to arrange and sort, keep logs of SKUs, and calculate the stocks value. These are all very tedious tasks and often require extensive labor.
As you can guess, people overseeing all of these tasks can bevery inefficient and slow along the supply chain.
Still, our work has become much faster, thanks to key logistics software and warehouse management system’s (WMS).
Software as a Service is a fantastic start to working and integrating with hardware such as robots.
With Covid-19, lockdowns, and safety regulations impacting more logistics businesses than ever before, it is about time we enter this crucial phase and embrace supply chain robots to a higher degree.
In this article, we will explore the different types of logistics robots that could potentially support your business.
What is supply chain robots?
A supply chain robot is a man-made automated system that works exactly the way humans tell it to work, and it looks like it has intelligence. And the word robot is derived from the Czech word ‘robata’.
The word robot means force labor or something that enslaves people or something that can work continuously or monotonously.
Simply put, a robot is a type of device that automatically assists humans in their work and can also be used as an alternative to humans in various tasks.
Stock Checking Robots
These robots perform a straightforward task.
They continuously check and update the database on which slots in the warehouse are full and empty.
Even though, for now, they can’t manually scan through each product to identify whether the right one is in the right slot, they still have the ability to check the stock against each slot.
These robots are also programmed with the prices of each slot and thus can continuously update the software without manual input.
Stock Picking Robots
These robots are the real workers of the supply chain robot range. Stock picking robots help reduce the manual labor.
Such robots carry the stocks from a location and then offload them to another point, the destination.
They can work continuously, allowing loading, unloading, storing of SKUs much faster and effectively.
The stock-picking robots are also known as goods-to-person systems.
They are offered by AutoStore, Dematic OPEX, and SSI Schaefer.
Autonomous vehicles are the next most hyped product in the tech arena.
Every big company is investing and developing prototypes, releasing concept cars, and so on.
Still, we are years away for public use.
However, automobile manufacturers are in a competition to make autonomous trucks street-ready.
When such trucks finally hit the road available for everyone, a significant supply chain concern, transportation, will eventually be much more efficient and predictable, supporting the logistics industry well into the future.
For retailers, last mile delivery is the most important of all. As products need to be separately delivered to each customer.
The process is highly inefficient and tiresome for operators.
Companies like Starship and Postmates have already gone through the pilot phase and are now offering delivery bots for last-mile deliveries on a limited scale, which is set to revolutionize this crucial part of the supply chain.
Ford has also tested autonomous delivery vehicles that go in front of customer’s houses and retrieve packages via code authentication.
Autonomous Freight Trains
Trains might be the most practical and the first step for autonomous vehicles.
You might think this will be a very straightforward technology, given trains do operate on specific lines.
However, freight trains have to go through busy cities, with the public all around.
So, without ensuring foolproof safety technology, we can’t just deploy them.
How do the robots work?
Since the robot is not a human being, it is an instrument so it has to be controlled. And there is a kind of micro controller or microprocessor to control.
Moreover, there are some sensors to consider various changes in the external environment.
First of all we have to write some commands in the processor of the robot so that he can perform the desired task as we need.
Again peas are used to move between different parts of the robot’s hardware.
Various communication devices are used for communication.
For example: R Edge Communication, Bluetooth Communication, WiFi Communication, Ethernet Communication, GPS Communication etc. Various programming languages such as C, C ++, Java, Python can be used for programming robots.
Hopefully, you have a basic idea of how robots work.
Some other robots:
Such robots are commonly used in various industrial plants to increase work progress and increase production. Notable among the types of work that industrial robots usually do are painting, handling and welding.
This is a huge field of robot use. These robots are usually flying. These types of robots are used for various purposes in space. Many such robots have been sent to Mars by NASA.
The type of robots that are used in any emergency or dangerous work are usually placed in this branch.
For example, after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, a type of robot called Pukbot was used to test the damage to nuclear power plants in Japan.
The most exciting branch of the robot is the humanoid robot. These robots are designed to work like humans.
They can often mimic human behavior. Moreover, they are also used for running, jumping and carrying goods.
The best examples of this type of robot are RoboT Sofia and Robot Atlas.
The types of robots that are commonly used in various pharmaceutical and medical institutions are commonly called medical robots.
However, the surgery robot is one of the most widely used robots in medicine. Various robots are also used to make medicine.
From the names, you may understand what these robots can be used for. Robots are used nowadays for various military purposes.
They are called military robots. The use of military robots in various bomb disposal or inspection activities can be noticed.
Modular robots are a new species of robot that is designed by their architecture, design and modularizing. It is easier to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of modular robots than conventional robots.
These robots are made up of one type of single, multiple identical modules or modules of similar shape.
Their architectural structure offers the advantage of hyper-redundancy because they can be designed with 8 degrees free freedom (DOF).
Creating programming for modular robots using kinematics and dynamics is more complex than with traditional robots.
Modular robots can be composed of L-shaped modules, cubic modules, and U and H-shaped modules.
Mining robots are currently designed to solve a variety of problems in the mining industry, including reducing efficiency, increasing productivity from Ore grade, and achieving environmental goals.
Due to the hazardous nature of mining, the use of automated, semi-automatic and tele-operated robots in specialized underground mining has increased significantly in recent times.
Several car manufacturers provide automated trains, trucks and loaders that will load the material, reach its destination at the mine site and unload it without human intervention.
Yes, most supply chain robots and drones, better known as Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), are still in the development stage.
Since such automation shows many promises and can virtually improve efficiency in all ways, companies are pushing for such.
Stock Picking AMRs are already becoming a norm in the big warehouses like Amazon, Walmart, and others.