Autonomous Mobile Robots: Innovation for E-Commerce


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Autonomous Mobile RobotsSource: Körber Supply Chain

Above all, things have to happen quickly in the logistics center. In order for the goods to be on their way to the customer in the shortest possible time, optimally designed walking and transport routes as well as comprehensive process management that ensures precision and reliability in order picking are required. Innovative robot solutions can ensure greater efficiency here.

warehousing has its pitfalls. That was true in analogue times – and it is true in the context of the digital transformation and the growing e-commerce all the more. Once the desired goods have been placed in the shopping cart and paid for on the website, customers wish delivery as soon as possible. This can even be competitive: the faster the delivery, the more likely the customer will come back. Until then, however, the sender has to face a number of challenges before the order can finally be sent to the customer by rail or road. Are autonomous mobile robots here the solution?

Fast and faster is the motto

This starts with the intelligent management of the available space in the logistics center and does not end with the walking routes. The fastest and most economical way to the shelf space and the subsequent tour to the warehouse gate has to be searched for and found again and again. Despite all the warehouse clerks’ experience, this can take time – time that strains the customer’s patience.

More storage space – horizontally and vertically

Automation in the context of digital change offers an interesting option here: Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) or robotics. They play an increasingly important role in global supply chains and ensure noticeably higher efficiency at logistics hotspots of all kinds. But what can AMR solutions do in warehouses and distribution centers? You are able to move safely and purposefully even in the smallest of spaces. This means that many areas no longer have to be provided with wide paths that offer workers with pallet trucks or forklifts enough space. The space saved as a result can be used as additional storage space and thus increase profitability. What’s more, since high-performance AMRs can also operate vertically, this effect expands into the third dimension – and operators can also scale up without needing more space overall.

Fast and correct delivery by autonomous mobile robots

Above all, however, the reliability with which the orders are picked and delivered is important. It is the actual indicator and driver for customer satisfaction. The correct delivery of goods in the shortest possible time: that is what customers expect and ascribe to “their” online retailer as a quality feature. Autonomous mobile robots are programmed to perform any task as efficiently as possible – and are capable of learning. In this way, they can check each route for its actual efficiency at any time and, if necessary, determine and use alternative options for certain goods. Whether the route leads to a service employee in the public area of ​​the building or to any other location, whether goods need to be brought to the truck ramp or returned to their storage location: the AMR knows the fastest route and can take it again and again, after taking the goods off the shelf.

But the high-tech colleagues can do more than just transport goods through the warehouse. You are able to cooperate with other automated management solutions and thus generate a zero-defect culture that not only relieves employees, but also saves companies money.

Investments in autonomous mobile robots pay off quickly

So far, what may have kept some potential users from bringing autonomous mobile robots into their warehouse or distribution center is the cost. One thing is clear: it is not possible without a certain investment. However, due to the lower operating costs, the additional storage space available and the higher efficiency – and thus the higher customer satisfaction – a corresponding investment pays for itself quickly. And another aspect should not be overlooked: The employees who are relieved by the solution can be used for higher added value. In addition, it is not necessarily about completely replacing entire teams. There are solutions that are well suited to collaborating with human colleagues and making operations more efficient in this way.