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More than Flexible, Creating Warehouse Extensibility: Goods to Person and Robotic AI

Matt Kohler | 9 March 2022

Any automation solution is an investment. Integration of goods to person (GTP) is no different, and with technological advancements, GTP has always been known as a flexible solution that accommodates various products and operations. Demonstrating extensibility, however, reaches beyond minor adjustments or accommodations.

Extensibility is the measure of the scalability and integrability of a product or system, providing for a truly future-proof solution that works well with new technologies and functions.

Adapting to a changing economic and uncertain labor markets, as well as advancements in robotics and software, goods to person continues to prove to be a robust foundation for distribution center operations that can grow and adapt.

Easy Automation Enhancements

Staple warehouse technologies like pick to light or conveyor can be integrated for a more effective goods to person solution.

  • Pick to light – Light devices mounted on workstations or mobile carts to guide operators to the correct quantities of the items needed to fulfil an order, offering a faster, more accurate pick method than requires a minimal learning curve to utilize the technology.
  • Conveyor – To move products either to the GTP workstation for putaway or away from the workstation to transport filled orders for further processing, creating an improved ergonomic environment by eliminating heavy lifting and reliably delivering products to their destinations.

Tight integration with the host system via WES software allows for more efficient use and even greater throughput, with accurate and real-time inventory pick instructions.  

Smarter Innovation and Integration

AI and machine vision, however, adds a new level of automation that introduces a fully automated order fulfillment option. A fully automated order fulfillment solution consists of a goods to person system, industrial robot, AI-powered vision system, takeaway conveyor with automated labelling and weight check, and warehouse software to control the entire process, like Exacta® WES.

When an order is received, the warehouse software communicates with the GTP system to deliver the bin containing the ordered item to the robot-operated GTP workstation. Within milliseconds, the robot’s AI and vision platform identifies the SKU(s) needed for the order, then selects the “most pick-able” SKU in the pile and releases the robot to pick it and place it into the designated container.

When the order is complete, the container will be transported via the takeaway conveyor for further outbound processing like check weighing with in-line scales to ensure order accuracy and automated labeling to attach a shipping label.

Achieving Extensibility with Continuous Learning Capabilities

Equipped with innovative AI and machine vision, piece picking robots don’t require training or programming to handle your current SKUs or new SKU integration. As new products are introduced, the AI software builds a library of objects it has seen and handled over time, along with optimal picking information. This is shared across the entire fleet allowing them to continuously learn from each other so they can function as a single, highly efficient order fulfilment operation.

The AI and vision platform directly interfaces with Bastian Solutions’ Exacta software, communicating SKU data and sharing order fulfillment information. This integration allows the cells to run with even higher autonomy.

Thrive in Today’s Market

The global warehouse automation market was valued at $29.6 billion in 2020 and is forecasted to expand to $69 billion in 2025. That growth includes the growth of mobile robots as well as fixed infrastructure automation equipment, according to the 2021 Warehouse Automation report by Interact Analysis.

Automation technology and its creative applications are rapidly developing. Companies across the globe are quickly realizing that automation may be their only option to keep up with consumer demand and labor shortages. If you need assistance evaluating the appropriate level of automation, Bastian Solutions can determine the right fit and forecast scalable options per business data and objectives.

Author: Matt Kohler

Matt Kohler, Bastian Solutions Director of Applications has been with Bastian Solutions since 2005, after receiving his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri - Columbia. The applications team at Bastian Solutions prides themselves on thoroughly understanding their customer’s unique needs and then tailors a solution that gives those customers a competitive edge in their business.  

Comments

John J says:
5/20/2022 09:51 PM

Hi! Light devices mounted on workstations or mobile carts to guide operators to the correct quantities of the items needed to fulfil an order, offering a faster, more accurate pick method than requires a minimal learning curve to utilize the technology.

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