Automation is now an essential part of today’s supply chain. In e-commerce specifically, dominant retailers like Amazon incorporating automation into their warehouses has set a highly competitive pace for order fulfillment and delivery. This market need paved the way for a new wave of technology: autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) – revolutionizing the supply chain for e-commerce companies of all sizes.
You’ll find several different models and workflows to choose from in AMRs – the question is, what’s the best fit for your warehouse? We think you’ll find that a goods-to-person model is the most efficient, scalable and adaptive solution for any warehouse needs. Here’s why inVia Robotics chose a goods-to-person workflow over other collaborative picking methods for the warehouse.
The goods-to-person model has been around for decades, and has been aptly described as both “the future” of order fulfillment and as a borderline unrealistic solution—it takes too much time to implement, and costs even more. For years, this was the thinking leading many organizations to discard goods-to-person in search of solutions they could reasonably invest in right away. While goods-to-person automation has existed for a long time, it was previously largely offered only in an expensive format requiring a big capital investment.
A goods-to-person system works directly with human workers to automate fulfillment systems in the warehouse. It delivers totes, corrugated trays and more, directly to pickers, packers, shippers and replenishers, eliminating unnecessary, wasteful travel time in the warehouse aisles. Some of the benefits include:
1) Increased efficiency (stronger ROI)
One major perk companies can gain from a goods-to-person workflow is a significant increase in efficiency. It eliminates nearly all walking for workers in the warehouse aisles. As items are delivered directly to human pickers, packers, and replenishers, the employee no longer spends time moving to and from various pallet racks. This means employees have more time to inspect the items being picked and focus on other high-level tasks. By reducing time spent moving around the warehouse, goods-to-person helps increase efficiencies in important areas such as cycle counting and overseeing quality control.
In the early days, we studied all of the potential decreased costs in the fulfillment process when utilizing other person-to-goods, alternative collaborative robotic models, piloting the technology while developing our robots. In our timed trials with these, we were only able to save 13% of time traveling to and from the pick station. Overall, we were only able to maximize increased productivity in fulfillment by about one and a half to two times the normal rates seen. Today, we know we’re able to reach increased productivity by up to 500 percent with goods-to-person.
When it comes to automation, a modern goods-to-person solution such as inVia’s is the most adaptive to different warehouse layouts, sizes and customer needs overall. It can be implemented into any existing set up and warehouse management system. When using a goods-to-person model, the customer is in control of the fulfillment process, improving productivity and lowering the cost-per-pick of each item. Companies can start with ten robots in the warehouse and add as needed without disrupting the current warehouse workflow or processes – creating a flexible and easily scalable option.
In addition to being the fastest, most adaptive solution we’ve found, we also find goods-to-person to be the most comprehensive. The solution impacts both picking and replenishment, and can increase accuracy throughout the fulfillment process. It provides a great opportunity to reduce costs related to mispicks, mis-shipments, shrinkage and errors. It does this by allowing the robots to bring one item type to an employee at a time, which means there is a low chance that the picker will make a mistake.
Other collaborative autonomous mobile robots (person-to-goods, virtual conveyors, etc.) allow a human worker to be augmented in the aisles, but a large amount of travel time is still needed. This reduces productivity and accuracy in the long run, leaving more room for error and wasted time on the warehouse floor.
The old goods-to-person vs. the new
Given all of the huge potential and positive attributes of a goods-to-person model, we knew there had to be a better way to apply it within our technology and offer it to customers at a lower cost and in a more scalable solution. This is why inVia merged the best of goods-to-person with RaaS, offering a more complete solution with predictable costs, scalability, integration with existing warehouse systems and customized workstations. We make deploying a goods-to-person model quick and cost-effective, with no CAPEX required and a more intuitive, pay-as-you-go subscription service. Learn more here.