Overhead view of e-commerce warehouse automation.

Robots have begun to transform fulfillment operations by bringing consistency, efficiency, and flexibility to material handling, and pick, pack, and ship activities in the warehouse. Currently, the primary differentiator in industrial automation is the choice between “fixed” and “flexible” automation. While fixed automation systems – including complex AS/RS solutions – are valuable to larger, higher-volume distribution centers, flexible automation systems, particularly mobile,  are more versatile and have lower capital investments and total costs of ownership. 

Adaptable & Scalable

As distribution center operations continue to evolve, there is an accelerating need for smarter, more adaptable, automated equipment that can easily be adjusted and scaled up to meet a business’ changing needs. Drop-in equipment such as mobile robots are, by definition, flexible and scalable. Companies may assign mobile picking robots to a segment of their operations and then work with robotic vendors to adjust and expand the system as necessary. Warehouse automation becomes possible over a shorter time frame in a world where robots are being installed with minimal changes to infrastructure. 

Traditional warehouses consist of fixed shelves stocked with products, and maybe a fixed conveyor to move the product throughout the warehouse. While the introduction of automation in the warehouse is a boon for the company and the workers, it used to require a complete overhaul of the warehouse infrastructure, leading to the need for significant capital investment. With flexible automation and specifically autonomous mobile manipulation robots, the changes necessary to the warehouse infrastructure are relatively minimal and less expensive. This gives old warehouses a new lease on life, becoming useful again in the age of automation. 

The Swift Product Suite

The Swift Product Suite works tirelessly to ensure that orders are ready for shipping, on time, every time. With innovative technology and world-class engineering, the Swift solution easily integrates with existing warehouse management systems and infrastructure to save time and money quickly.

The Integration Process

When deploying the Swift solution in the warehouse, IAM Robotics team consists of a Project Manager, Application Engineers and Deployment Engineers who will participate in the project planning, system design, installation, integration, testing, and training activities; performing these tasks both at the IAM Robotics office as well as in the warehouse.

Design and Planning 

The process starts with an in-depth study of the future needs and challenges of the warehouse operation. We then define requirements, and plan how our solution will work in the existing facility. This analysis also provides the client with a solution return on investment (ROI) estimate, as well as a simulation and visualization of their operations showing the expected system operations across a range of possible future conditions. 

Build and Integrate 

During the next phase of the project, IAM Robotics builds, tests, and performs quality checks on the robots in our facility to a defined Facility Acceptance Test (FAT) agreed upon by the client. Prior to shipping Swift to the warehouse, IAM Robotics cross trains key individuals in the warehouse on the robot and any new operational procedures. These activities follow a rigorous set of tests leading to formal acceptance.

Site Deployment 

The Swift Product Suite deployment includes delivery, installation, system setup, and configuration, in addition to onsite testing and validation of the robots and all support systems, such as Flash and SwiftLink Server. This includes integration of any additional safety measures and necessary quality controls to ensure that the actual performance of the integrated system matches the expectations of the warehouse management team. 

On-Site Training 

When a warehouse welcomes a robotic workforce, training is an essential element for success. During deployment, we provide “train-the-trainer” training for both supervisor and operator functions, as well as for maintenance personnel if applicable.  Similarly, Robot Supervisor training includes an overview of the daily use of the Swift Product Suite, as well as all the tools provided via the suite supervisor capabilities accessed via SwiftLink. 

On-Going Service and Support

IAM Robotics is dedicated to the success of autonomous mobile manipulation robots in your warehouse. Through remote monitoring and onsite support, we provide the necessary hardware and software to ensure this success. 

As demand for more efficient DCs continues, and as the labor market shortage persists, companies that want to compete effectively must factor robotics and automation into their game plans. The firms that explore and iterate with flexible automation will be best positioned to generate new levels of customer satisfaction—all while leveraging automation as a fundamental competitive requirement.