Advances in picking technology are paving the way for even more impressive production numbers. One of the most prevalent current trends in the area of automated picking systems removes human beings from the equation completely. In goods-to-robot systems, robots select items and in some cases, pack goods for shipping.

Robots are ideally suited for these types of repetitive tasks, especially when the items being picked are easily distinguishable by the vision system. The existing workforce, intimately familiar with quality and production requirements, can transition into a role where employees monitor and operate robot cells, and assist with tricky picks that can prove problematic for the robot pickers. Additionally, management can solicit ideas on utilizing the technology from workers—raising their value to the organization.

[blockquote style=”2″]Goods-to-person systems go a long way toward alleviating employee fatigue as well.[/blockquote]

Historically, management has tasked workers with memorizing product storage locations and maintaining a pace that kept order fulfillment rates at a desired maximum level. The stress of these responsibilities can easily burn out employees, which harm DC productivity and uptime. With the advent of goods-to-robot systems, DC productivity will increase even more.

Robots can also promote a safer work environment for their human counterparts. In the aforementioned scenario, feeling the pressure of meeting production speed criteria, some workers tend to rush across the DC at a frenetic, uncontrolled pace—raising the chances for workplace injuries. When a robot handles the legwork portion of the picking tasks, however, employees can devote more attention to performing quality checks and fulfilling complex orders that robots cannot handle—ultimately benefitting the organization in the end.

The advances in technology required to take goods-to-robot picking to the next level have already been made. Advances in 3-D perception coupled with state-of-the-art robotic end effectors with the ability to pick a variety of shapes and product densities are quickly advancing the development of goods-to-robot technology. In the infancy of goods-to-robot technology, it is likely that many companies will pair goods-to-robot solutions with goods-to-person systems to create a hybrid model.

[blockquote style=”2″]Distribution center management can rest assured in the knowledge that as e-commerce accelerates, order fulfillment technologies also are advancing. The smartest organizations recognizing these changes are the ones that will deliver superior levels of accuracy and efficiency and survive.  [/blockquote]