Fulfillment Robots: It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint

The job of picking in a warehouse may not be the most glamorous, but it’s one that’s crucial to the success of any e-commerce business. People spend hours every shift — more than 50% of their time in fact — walking up and down aisles in vast warehouses searching for thousands of items to fill online shoppers’ orders, and accuracy is key.

Pickers in busy fulfillment centers are often expected to retrieve 100-200 units per hour while walking 12 to 14 miles per shift, or about half the distance of a marathon. That level of throughput, combined with the physical exertion over an extended period of time, can take a toll on workers and their productivity.

People are great at filling orders quickly in relatively short bursts of activity, say for an hour or two, but maintaining that pace throughout the course of a shift can be challenging, and workers who are rushed and tired are more likely to make mistakes.

Picking Robots Set the Pace

Autonomous warehouse robots, on the other hand, work alongside your warehouse staff and perform their tasks at a consistent pace. They may often appear to be moving a bit slower than people, but think of “The Tortoise and the Hare” and “slow and steady wins the race.”

These picking robots — like the ones we build at inVia Robotics —  travel the warehouse floor following routes optimized by machine learning and continuous data analysis, which reduces pick time and increases picking accuracy to a rate of 99.9%. It all adds up to dramatic increases in productivity that far exceed the level of throughput achievable by people alone.

And perhaps best of all, by taking on the most repetitive, labor-intensive, and expensive of all order fulfillment tasks, picking robots free up your people so they can focus on more meaningful work.

Why Does It Matter?

If you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to keep up with the volume of orders, or you cannot attract or retain qualified workers that allow you to maintain a consistent level of throughput, you should consider adding robots to your workforce.

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