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Top Robotics Trends in Fulfillment, Manufacturing and More

E-commerce and an interconnected economy have created new manufacturing, ordering, and fulfillment standards—and facilities are keeping up with robotics and smart equipment.

Key takeaways:

  • Warehouses and manufacturers are dealing with greater demand than ever before
  • Some top robotics and smart equipment trends include:
    1. Amazon Robotics
    2. Cloud-driven robots
    3. Cobots
    4. Automated guided vehicles
    5. Autonomous mobile robots
    6. Locus Robotics
    7. The Internet of Things and the need for consistent connectivity
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Warehouses, fulfillment centers, and manufacturers feel the pressure like never before, as online ordering and demand for faster delivery continue to increase. Newer technologies like automation, machine learning, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence have helped these facilities speed up processes so operations can keep up. 

Robotics and the use of smart devices have been integral to keeping e-commerce, manufacturing, and more moving forward. And these technologies will continue to improve as industry leaders create more efficient iterations.

Here are some of the top robotics trends and other innovative equipment being used today—and why consistent wireless connectivity has become crucial to their deployment:

1. Amazon Robotics

It’s impossible to discuss warehouse technology without talking about Amazon. The company has 110 active fulfillment centers across the country, 185 worldwide, and over 200,000 robots in all of these warehouses. Amazon Robotics was created in 2012 when Amazon bought Kiva Systems, another robotics company, for $775 million.

Amazon has since built new mobile robots for its many facilities that work alongside employees. The company also has fleets of robots that work in isolation from humans. Amazon continues to emphasize quick delivery, and many of its products can be delivered same-day or next-day. 

With this kind of expectation, the company depends on robots to make processes speedier and more efficient. This technology reduces or eliminates time-consuming manual tasks, including the transport of products across large warehouses. Amazon’s robots and smart devices can also carry shelves to human workers, retrieve products from shelves, and read barcodes.

Amazon will undoubtedly continue to lead the industry, setting the stage for how warehouses are managed with the help of robots for years to come.

2. Cloud-driven robots

Cloud robotics is “a new paradigm where robots and automation systems share data and code and perform computation via networks.” It essentially combines robotics with cloud computing, Big Data, and the Internet of Things (IoT). 

The benefits of cloud-driven robots include reduced costs for manufacturers, improved productivity, and avoiding on-premises storage systems. It’s simpler for manufacturers to scale when using a cloud platform, like Fetch Robotics, and cloud computing makes it easier to control the smart equipment infrastructure from remote locations.

3. Cobots

Collaborative robots, or cobots, are those that work in conjunction with humans to improve facility operations. Instead of using completely isolated machines, cobots provide manufacturers and fulfillment centers with a more integrated approach. They can increase warehouse safety and are usually easy to set up and incorporate into existing workflows. 

With cobots, facilities can take advantage of automation without completely making the switch to entirely traditional robots. This also provides greater flexibility to workers in how they interface with connected devices. 

4. Automated guided vehicles

Many warehouses use automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to perform tasks around the facility, including carrying hefty and large loads. These vehicles can operate without a driver or machine operator, enabling workers to focus on other tasks. AGVs are controlled by onboard and/or networked computers and can sense obstructions and control their speed automatically.

5. Autonomous mobile robots

Companies like Fetch are producing autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), which are similar to the AGVs mentioned above. These machines can move independently throughout a warehouse or other environment. They use sensors and other technologies that allow them to respond to what’s around them and adapt their path or speed. 

Like AGVs, AMRs help warehouses become more efficient. These robots differ in that they’re more flexible in how they approach processes, with a greater ability to adapt. They’re also a type of cobot since they can work in collaboration with humans. 

6. Locus Robotics

Another major robotics company to keep an eye on is Locus Robotics. Their advanced systems utilize cobots and AMRs that work with humans to fulfill orders faster. 

Locus offers a range of fulfillment approaches depending on the precise container needs of a warehouse, and managers can customize and scale them as needed. Facilities can use multiple types of bots from this provider, and data-gathering and analytics solutions help organizations improve and adapt the way they use smart equipment. 

Warehouses that use Locus Robotics can reportedly speed up fulfillment productivity by a factor of two or three.

7. The Internet of Things

None of these robotic solutions would be able to communicate with one another without the Internet of Things (IoT)—the ubiquitous network that connects smart devices that constantly exchange information. 

Smart equipment, workers’ mobile devices, and robots transmit information about products so that orders can be filled instantly and accurately. Human workers rely on a consistent connection to manage inventory and warehouse systems, and AGVs and AMRs must stay connected to carry out their tasks effectively. Products must be tracked throughout the fulfillment process, which also requires consistent access. 

As the IoT continues to expand, warehouses need to make sure their Wi-Fi networks can handle the expanding range of devices. That’s where wireless network monitoring (WNM) becomes crucial.

Wireless Network Monitoring from 7SIGNAL

Today’s warehouses, fulfillment centers, and manufacturers depend on seamless, high-performing networks. Robots and smart devices need a stable and continuous connection to transfer data, track orders and products, and maintain operations 24/7. These tasks must be done without any drops or slowdowns—each of which has a tangible impact on ROI.

7SIGNAL’s Wireless Network Monitoring platform is helping facilities keep up with ever-increasing demand. Our technology helps ensure that connections are never lost, and devices continuously and effortlessly communicate with one another. 

The 7SIGNAL platform gives IT managers complete visibility into the wireless network so that issues are addressed instantly, and the root cause of a problem is found right away. To learn how these wireless network monitoring solutions work, contact us today.

7SIGNAL® is a leader in enterprise wireless experience monitoring. 7SIGNAL provides a cloud-based platform that continuously monitors wireless networks and identifies elusive performance issues impacting application performance and digital experience. By taking the “outside-in” approach to monitoring, 7SIGNAL has visibility into the edge of any enterprise or home Wi-Fi network where complex device interaction exists, and user experience matters most. The platform maximizes employee productivity, operational efficiency, and network ROI. Sapphire Eye® and Mobile Eye® are designed for and deployed at the world’s most innovative organizations, educational institutions, healthcare systems, and government agencies. Learn more at www.7signal.com.