5 advantages of the modern helper – eCommerce Magazin


In the logistics order processing segment, sales of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are booming. According to the latest market research report from Interact Analysis, the number of AMRs sold worldwide in 2019 was almost 20,000 units – almost twice as many as last year with increasing demand. The researchers predict that by the end of 2024, more than 1.1 million autonomous mobile robots will be in use worldwide. So far, they are mainly used in the USA and Asia.

1. Autonomous mobile robots: Autonomous and independent

The AMR technology differs fundamentally from that in the established autonomous guided vehicles (AGVs). While AGVs also act without a driver, they either need real or virtual lane guidance. Thus, the route to the destination is given.

If the route is changed, it must be redefined accordingly. Autonomous mobile robots, on the other hand, do not need to rely on human interaction when the route changes. Instead, they guide on-board navigation systems to the destinations. However, AGVs still generally determine what happens in logistics centers around the world.

2. Cope with the shortage of skilled workers

There are a number of factors driving interest in autonomous robotic technology for picking and sorting work in logistics centers. For example, a shrinking labor market makes it difficult to find and retain suitable employees. Typically, low-skilled workers do the work in warehouses. In addition, the boom in e-commerce during the Covid-19 pandemic also plays a decisive role. Above all, online buyers expect cheap and fast delivery.

3. Fast and varied thanks to various systems

This is exactly where autonomous mobile robots come in. As different systems are available, each is able to perform specific tasks throughout the warehouse. One of the latest intralogistics features that benefit from autonomous mobile robot technology is sorting. The Chinese manufacturer Libiao offers the sorting robot “Mini Yellow”, for example. According to the manufacturer, it is a cost-effective alternative to stationary tilt tray and cross-belt conveyor systems that are used in parcel and e-commerce warehouses.

4. Autonomous mobile robots: space-saving and flexible

Sorting robots offer numerous advantages: They require a smaller floor area than conveyor systems for the same parcel throughput. In addition, they can be installed quickly compared to building a sorting solution based on conveyor systems. Since AMR systems are scalable without specific infrastructure requirements, they offer a high degree of flexibility – for example, to cope with throughput peaks.

5. Exchanging instead of switching off promotes throughput

On top of that, the technology is portable. AMR can therefore be used exactly where they are needed and can switch between locations. If an error occurs, autonomous mobile robots can easily be replaced. Conveyor belts, on the other hand, usually have to be switched off, which has a negative impact on throughput. The advantages of AMR for e-commerce and parcel processing not only inspire logistics, but also market researchers. In the report “The Mobile Robot Market 2020”, the experts from Interact Analysis assume that around 300,000 sorting AMRs will be in operation in the next four years. The Libiao solution is used, for example, at Walmart in the USA, at the main Uniqlo hub in Japan and at various China Post locations in China. In Europe too, an awareness of the advantages of AMR is slowly emerging. In view of the steadily growing volume of e-commerce, European logistics and e-commerce must quickly prepare for future challenges. “As our international customer base continues to grow, we estimate that around two billion parcels are currently processed annually with Libiao AMRs,” explains Xia Hulling.

What are autonomous mobile robots (AMR)?

AMR are equipped with modern sensor technology as well as artificial intelligence and have the digital plans of the warehouse. In this way they can find their way around the environment independently and interpret it. You can transport boxes, for example, but you can also move pallets. In the warehouse, they interact with the control software (warehouse control system), which is connected to the warehouse management system (LVS). In this way, they determine the optimal routes for the transfer of goods and avoid obstacles.