Robotic Automation: Now Is the Time to Deploy

Q: Are you seeing growing interest in the use of robots in distribution and warehouse operations?

A: Absolutely. Since the early onset of the pandemic last year, there has been a notable increase in the number of companies looking into adding robotics and automation to their fulfillment operations. The pandemic caused a dramatic shift to online behaviors, changing not only the way retail consumers shop, but also the operations of the B2B industrial segment.

Companies that were previously shifting slowly toward a digital warehouse strategy are now rushing toward it. While labor has been a major concern in the past, the pandemic has exacerbated it with lockdowns and social distancing for health safety requirements that impact recruiting and retention, while volumes continue to increase exponentially. The only viable way to cost-effectively mitigate this problem is through automation.

Q: How can distributors justify the cost of investing in robotics technology?

A: Locus Robotics offers a Robots-as-a-Service (RaaS) model that allows warehouses to add autonomous mobile robot (AMR) automation to their existing operation at a reasonable cost while delivering an ROI that is obtained in months instead of years, and sometimes weeks. RaaS lowers the upfront costs by reallocating a single capital expense into recurring operational expenses.

The RaaS model gives operators the flexibility they need to meet changing demands; when volumes grow due to seasonality or sudden demand spikes, they can simply rent more bots to cover the increase in work and send them back when volume levels return to normal—without requiring extensive reconfiguration or complicated setup. Frankly, if operators are not implementing robotic automation now, they risk falling further behind.

Q: With nearly 95% of warehouses relying on manual labor now, how is Locus helping companies realize the need for automation, and ultimately take the step of adopting robotics?

A: For brownfield applications, Locus is helping companies achieve more productivity using the same footprint of space and workers by digitizing the process of order fulfillment and material movement. For greenfield applications, Locus works with companies to design the fulfillment space around digital fulfillment technology to achieve the maximum throughput possible.

Our solution engineers have over 30 years of experience running distribution centers and use this knowledge to create simulations that prove the business case before it’s implemented. The secret sauce is in the multi-bot approach: Workers pick higher rates by staying within zones while a fleet of robots travels between pick destinations and the packing station.

Robots are only half of the automation solution Locus provides. Our total solution includes a robust execution platform that orchestrates intelligent robot and labor direction, as well as provides full visibility of operational performance data to facilitate forecasting, labor planning, and real-time workflow optimization. Our unique multi-bot solution has helped the leading industrial manufacturers, retailers, and distributors gain the flexible automation needed to meet today’s demands and position themselves for growth to achieve a sustainable 2x to 3x increase in productivity.

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