Robots are also gaining ground in intralogistics. Stationary and mobile robotic units are increasingly taking on more and more picking tasks, such as picking and filling the shipping units (single-stage picking).
This trend towards automation, especially in the area of single-item picking, will continue and intensify. One reason for this is the increasing cost pressure and demand for ever-shorter delivery and throughput times. In addition, the continuing shortage of professionally qualified warehouse staff is forcing this development.
The basic work of order picking, in particular, is monotonous and the movements are often extremely strenuous. Robots can relieve humans of these tasks, allowing them to take on other duties in warehouse logistics. This pays off, especially in multi-shift operation.
Factors that speak for the use of picking robots include
- increased speed and
- significantly improved picking accuracy and picking reliability.
Robots do not tire, are fail-safe and constantly deliver the desired performance – around the clock if required. In view of the qualitative and monetary advantages, the investment in robotics pays for itself quickly.
One frequently preferred technical solution in single item picking is picking robots. According to the specifications of a warehouse management system (WMS) such as SAP EWM, these remove parts from containers and transfer them to order containers. Picking robots also include "cobots", which work collaboratively, i.e. together or alternately with humans. This form of robot-controlled order picking can, for example, be implemented with the IGZ Best Practice Pick-by-Robot®, which can be retrofitted at existing workstations as desired and is used either full-time or alternately together with workers.
Automated layer handling is another use case. Layer gripping systems consist of gantry robots and anthropomorphic picking robots with variable joints; these can palletise and depalletise in layers. They are available on the robotics market, for example, with the names "layer gripper" or "layer palletiser".
Heavy bagged goods are automatically forwarded to palletisation, e.g., using lifting aids or bag vacuum grippers. Automatic picking of bagged goods ensures safe handling at high speed. These aids for ergonomic moving and lifting of bagged goods offer noticeable relief for employees.
In addition to order picking, driverless transport vehicles (DTV) with integrated gripping devices are used. In combination with static racking systems and conveyor technology, they often make sense as a partial automation option.
Companies that rely on automated (single-item) picking often pursue efficient multi- or omnichannel concepts that aim to meet the demand of B2C and increasingly also B2B customers for ever shorter delivery times with high delivery quality. The use of automated picking solutions such as picking robots can generate valuable competitive advantages and parallel savings at the operating cost level.
One example of an innovative picking robot that impresses with its speed, precision and fail-safety as well as fastest service readiness is Pick-by-Robot®, a patented IGZ Best Practice for fully automated individual parts picking. The mobile robot can be used as an alternative to or in parallel with workers, takes up little space and is directly integrated into SAP EWM/MFS. This simplifies commissioning, as does the possibility to flexibly retrofit the picking robot and the fact that it already carries all the technology and is activated with just one cable.
For more information on Pick-by-Robot® see:
Advantages in a nutshell
- High degree of availability: Consistently reliable performance, even in 24/7 operation
- Fully automatic handling of a wide range of products
- Increased picking rates with reduced personnel requirements
- Fast amortisation
- Permanent reduction of operating costs
- Sophisticated picking reliability: Zero-error strategy can be implemented
- Flexible to use and scalable at any time
- Material flow-optimised control via SAP EWM/MFS (SAP Extended Warehouse Management/SAP Material Flow System) based on your daily order load
- Suitable for logistics and distribution centres and can also be implemented in the production environment
- Many years of experience as an SAP EWM general contractor
- IGZ offers all forms and extension stages of automated order picking
- Manufacturer-neutral selection consulting and implementation
- Giving you the best value for money
- Individually tailored, efficient and future-proof automation solutions (without any dependence on a particular manufacturer and technology)
- Engineering expertise for all phases of a project – from strategy consulting and SAP software implementation to SAP technology integration
- Everything from a single source – one contact for cross-discipline availability and sustainability
- Proven best practices for accelerated implementation with guaranteed success
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