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Creating a Flexible Order Fulfillment Operation

Flexible Order fulfillment

If warehouse managers have a goal, it’s to create and manage a flexible, agile order fulfillment operation. While that goal had been out of reach for years, today’s technology makes it more feasible. That’s important because today’s rapid-paced operations require that agility. Having the ability to respond to end-user needs quickly—even if it requires a pivot—is the name of the game.

At the core of achieving agile fulfillment operations is next-generation technology that can deliver the agility you need. This includes automation, like autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and industrial mobile robots (IMRs), combined with state-of-the-art picking systems.

AMRs have the advantage of operating independently of each other within a collective system. Robot and software controls coordinate and direct each robot to the proper location, often bringing goods to person. The software platform can rapidly add or remove robots depending on the current demand. This scalability is essential to true agility.

Another way that AMRs enhance an operation’s flexibility is by enabling minimal downtime operations. The days of having your operations grind to a halt due to equipment failure are few and far between, with AMRs in the picture.  Should a robot encounter a problem, you can simply pull it off the floor and replace it with another robot while the defective unit is repaired. Having multiple redundant robots is essential and commonplace.

Regarding the affordability factor, AMRs have substantially come down in cost, especially considering their benefits. An ROI can be achieved quickly. Because of their modular nature, you can start small and add as your needs and operations grow. Robots also require little infrastructure, which helps keep costs low as well.

Leasing is another option to minimize capital expenditure. Based on the software leasing models, leasing AMRs prevent you from having to lay out a big expenditure initially. You may eventually purchase as you test and try the equipment.

AMRs can offset labor shortages and allow staff to upskill and perform more challenging tasks. The AMRs cover the less desirable tasks, freeing up your team members to complete jobs requiring higher level equating, which leads to better retention. Conversely, AMRs help to make the most of your existing labor force, leading to more predictability and greater reliability in your operations.

The breadth of AMR models provides a tremendous array of applications that can be handled. The entire range of pick, pack, sort and ship applications in a warehouse for piece, case, and unit handling are easily accomplished today. Greater efficiencies can be achieved by utilizing multiple models and styles of AMRs in the same application.

With AMRs in the picture, you can also manage a wider inventory variety, increasing agility. Anything from pieces to cases to totes is fair game, and the robots allow for the flexibility to change things up as needed.

Agile order fulfillment can be a game changer and is worth a closer look—reach out to a qualified provider to learn how it can improve your operations.


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