What’s New in Robotics? 24.02.2023
This week’s news brief looks at a new type of nano warehouse and the robots servicing them, the first picking robots that also consolidate orders as they go along, a new three-way partnership combining expertise to enhance AutoStore, an automated layout printer revolutionizing the construction industry, and KUKA launching AMR new to intralogistics.
Tiny robots & warehouse
The incredible shrinking shed is a phenomenon of our time. In an effort to get small packages of chocolate to customers as quickly as possible, the logistics industry has had to rethink and rework the idea of warehouses, their size, their location, what items they store, whether they are robots and humans or robots just to choose from. and pack up, what’s the best next step to the customer’s front door?
The industry’s answer appears to be a few small warehouses, each no more than 50 miles from a customer’s home, which the industry becomes a micro-fulfillment center (MFC). Well, hold on to that thought because *nano fulfillment center (NFC) just arrived.
*Micro fulfillment refers to a storage area of 900 to 4000 m2, while nano fulfillment generally starts at 75 m2 (now it’s even smaller at 30 m2!).
Israel-based startup (2021) calls itself 1MRobotics has spawned a purpose-built 30-square-metre (320-square-foot) nano-warehouse, led by a single robot that picks up and packs orders as they move back and forth on a dual-track rail system. The tiny warehouse is equipped with a hatch on the side of the road for couriers and buyers to collect online orders.
1MRobotics emerged from stealth in late 2022 with $25 million for its “nano fulfillment” center.
Eyal Yair, co-founder and CEO of 1MRobotics, finds its last-mile fulfillment solution to dramatically ease the pain of CPG (consumer packaged goods), convenience stores, and fast-trade brands reaching customers for same-day service… or faster!
Yair believes that a “hyper-local logistics infrastructure” such as 1MRobotics’ tiny automated warehouses will make supermarkets redundant.
Using mostly off-the-shelf robotic arms, which staff then reassembled, these AI-powered robots, some lubricated to operate in cold conditions, never saw a human, except for those who came to restock shelves.
Picking a robot pulls double duty down the aisle
What about mobile robots, e-commerce, self-employed pickers but doing two jobs at the same time?
Jan Zizka, CEO and co-founder Bright choice (part of the Cincinnati-based Photoneo Brightpick Group), calls its robot a game changer, first in a work shed SKU. It not only retrieves items but also consolidates entire orders.
“Our patented Brightpick Autopicker is the most advanced fulfillment robot ever built,” he says.
Impressive is the mobile robot’s ability to take off into an aisle full of SKUs, pick up an order, and no need to travel back and forth to a centralized collection station? Brightpick Autopicker seems a loner who gets the whole job done!
And it was remarkably accurate, its inventor said; 99.9% accurate selection of groceries, cosmetics, electronics, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and more. Its machine vision and advanced AI algorithms have been trained on more than 250 million choices to date and use machine learning to improve each choice.
Zizka and company claim Brightpick’s fully autonomous end-to-end robotic solution delivers a lower cost per pick than other solutions on the market. Putting all of those benefits together ultimately means fewer robots to fulfill orders, leading to reduced costs and increased return on investment. Major problem in most warehouses or DCs.
Brightpick says a system (typically 10 to 100 robots) can be set up in a month, can reduce picking workforce by up to 95%, and can cut costs for order fulfillment in half.
Three friends behind Apotea’s new warehouse
In what could be an ongoing automation partnership between Auto Shop, Logic ElementsAnd Right Hand RoboticsSwedish award winning online pharmacy, Pharmacyjust launched its newest warehouse, 20,000 bin AutoStore AS/RS to pick, pack, and ship 50,000 orders per day.
This is the first AutoStore installation to include RightPick, which is RightHand Robotics’ proprietary picking technology. Leif Jentoft, co-founder and CSO of RightHand Robotics, said of the new partnership: “We are confident this collaboration will set new benchmarks for the intralogistics industry.”
RightHand technology is very adept small pharmaceutical and health items picked up in bits and pieces. It has been recorded selecting more than 1200 per hour. Which of course is ideal for Apotea pharmacy delivery.
Added to its 20,000 bin capacity warehouse, AS/RS Apotea operates with 30 AutoStore R5 robots, operating 24/7. Includes three eOperator part-picking robots, developed collaboratively by RightHand Robotics and Element Logic. eOperator, Element Logic says, uses machine learning to “automatically choose the best way to handle items to be picked up from the AutoStore”, which it claims improves order capacity, item handling, and delivery times.
Apotea Warehouse is the first in the world to use a fully integrated eOperator robot.
Printing robots speeds up the building process
Newly launched BIM construction printer is one of a new generation of digital construction robots that is accelerating an industry that is notoriously slow on building projects.
Based on MarketWatch: “The global construction industry has a chronic productivity problem. Over the last 20 years, productivity has grown by only 1% per year, only about a third of the world economy rate and only about a quarter of the manufacturing rate.”
The BIMPRINTER is a fully robotic high-definition plotter, tracing with laser millimeter accuracy directly onto concrete slabs, marking out all the associated details necessary to start the actual construction.
For example, with a 15-storey building, each floor must be visited by an engineer so that it can be marked for the proper positioning of walls, doors, power lines, air conditioning, lifts, rooms, closets, etc. Everything needs to be marked floor by floor; it’s laborious, error-prone, and painfully slow. And of course, the larger the building, the longer it will take to mark it.
Now, a robotic printer from BIMPRINTER (based in Andenne, Belgium) can do the job autonomously in the short time it takes an engineer—working from paper blueprints—to paint signs on every floor.
By the way, BIM stands for Building Information Modeling (BIM)“a technique in which digital 3D building designs and construction plans are used to guide and monitor the construction process.”
Construction workers now have colorful guides applied directly to the entirety of each floor indicating exactly the work that needs to be done.
KUKA joins the AMR battle
CRYone of the world’s most renowned robot developers, threw his hat, history and engineering prowess into the AMR ring with the recent debut of the KMP 600-S diffDrive.
Hugely crowded with nearly 200 developers vying for sales attention, AMR (automated mobile robots) is by far the most explosive category of mobile robots. As Interact Analysis says: “By the end of 2020, mobile robots were deployed at more than 9,000 separate customer locations. By 2025, adoption will increase to more than 53,000 sites.” The analyst went on to say: “End 4 million Mobile Robots Installed in Q4 2027.”
It is an AMR owned by parent company KUKA, which is based in China Medeaa leader in the production of home appliances, it can also be used in its approximately 1,500 warehouses worldwide.
With a payload capacity of 600kg (1300 lbs.), the KMP 600-S is designed for high-speed intralogistics support. The KMP 600-S operates safely using its laser scanner and 3D object detection, selecting for obstacles from 50 mm (1.9 inches) to 2.1 m (82.6 inches) above the ground.
Additionally, the KUKA AMR is IP54 rated which offers protection against contamination from dust and other particles, plus safety from splashing water from all directions.