It’s like something out of a sci-fi movie or a post-industrial revolution novel – the machines are taking over. While it’s not quite as dramatic as such works of fiction, there is some real truth to autonomous robotics continuing to advance many different industries. Logistics tops this list.
In a marketplace in which manufacturers and other product-based organizations are under continual pressure to reduce waste and costs from their supply chains, it’s no surprise that automated machinery is finding its way into places like the warehouse at an increasing rate and in new, innovative ways.
“Automation is key in today’s logistics landscape,” said Clinton Sieber, Vice President of Lean Solutions at Universal Logistics Holdings, Inc., headquartered in Metro Detroit, Michigan. “If you aren’t looking for areas in your warehouse operations where you can automate right now, you are going to be left behind.”
Sieber knows firsthand of what he speaks. Universal is a leading third party logistics provider that services a large number of Fortune 500 manufacturers and retailers/e-tailers with their warehousing and additional value-added needs. The company has been piloting and increasing its use of automated equipment, including Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), and Autonomous Guided Vehicles/Visual Guided Vehicles (AGVs/VGVs) over the past few years in order to streamline processes and improve operational efficiencies.
“We began piloting the use of AGVs to handle repetitive, long-distance material movesat our logistics centers.” Sieber said. “The results have been quite successful, allowing us to redeploy our human talent elsewhere within our operations to solve more complex issues and handle more challenging tasks. Overall, the use of automated material handling systems have been nothing but promising and we are continuing to integrate the technology throughout our organization where it makes sense.”