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MOV.ai disrupts Autonomous Mobile Robot development with a Robotics Engine Platform that contains everything needed to quickly build, deploy and operate intelligent robots.
Two trends have combined to drive this transformation:
The fourth industrial revolution, where connectivity, automation, real-time data, and AI generate greater business flexibility and efficiency. Successfully implementing advanced smart technology within industrial environments can provide a holistic approach to operations.
In 2021, global eCommerce sales were nearly $5 Trillion, representing a 16% rise from the previous year. eCommerce and retail growth combined with the effects of the pandemic to create a supply chain crisis.
Pressed by demand, warehouses embraced digital transformation—specifically automation—and the practices laid out by Industry 4.0. This aptly-named Intralogistics 4.0 uses a range of new technologies to fundamentally transform warehouse environments to optimize the movement of goods and materials, maximizing efficiency and ensuring rapid delivery.
In this article we analyze what makes Intralogistics 4.0 using the “Pillars of the fourth industrial revolution. We discuss how they translate to warehouse environments and the key role autonomous mobile robots play in intralogistics 4.0
Intralogistics 4.0 combines a range of cutting-edge technology to automate tasks and create fine-tuned, real-time controls to handle the movement of goods in an industrial facility or warehouse. New digital tools allow warehouses and manufacturing operations to optimize the movement of goods and materials.
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) make up an important piece of this puzzle. They are used to move goods around, but it also means integrating processes and data from a full suite of automation assets. With a holistic view of the facility built on accurate data, smart enterprise resource planning (ERP) or warehouse management software (WMS) can adapt to changing circumstances on the fly, ensuring flexibility and optimal performance.
With many benefits on the line, these are the key factors to consider when integrating AMRs into intralogistics 4.0:
Intralogistics 4.0 involves multiple systems that work together, but that may change at different rates. In such an environment, processes and involved entities need to be meticulously planned and tested. They also need to support changes when business needs arise.
To do this, intralogistics 4.0 relies heavily on a simulation that uses a digital twin, or a true-to-life digital representation of the environment. In run time, digital twins go beyond just floor plans and include all the facility’s occupants—humans, AMRs, equipment, goods inventory and tasks.
It is challenging to create a true digital twin of a facility using CAD; slight differences almost always exist, and in fact, grow with time. This is where AMRs can help.
Using their advanced sensors, operators can map out any differences (as well as layout updates) and go into fine detail to generate a digital twin exactly mirroring the layout of a facility.
The more data available when creating the model, the more accurate the final simulations will be (and the fewer issues during deployment and ongoing operation).
Simulations based on digital twins simplify AMR deployment and operations, thus becoming a comprehensive source of information for the goings-on at the facility. Examples of digital twin benefits include identifying inefficiencies or generating AMR maintenance schedules.
While AMRs take over the physical burden of moving goods, they are but one of many new automation technologies that make up intralogistics 4.0 operations. To be successful, AMRs cannot perform their tasks in a vacuum; they must integrate with the broader system and send/receive data from multiple software packages, including Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS).
Alongside AMRs, industrial IoT (IIoT) and smart interconnected devices are improving warehouse productivity. To maximize performance, AMRs must be able to transfer data and interact with IIoT machines without human intervention. This could allow AMRs to:
Industry 4.0 in warehouse and manufacturing sites means connecting various devices, regardless of their make. Integrating IIoT devices with AMR operations requires open APIs and the ability to communicate with 3rd party systems.
AMRs generate a considerable amount of data about the robot itself and the environment it is operating within. This data includes:
All this data is ripe for analysis, helping facilities understand robot performance, predict maintenance, and assess movement patterns to identify bottlenecks and improve efficiency.
Intralogistics 4.0 and the use of interconnected technology to help run a facility also bring additional security concerns. Adding new elements to a network, whether private or public, increases the attack surface for potential cyber threats. Therefore, any AMRs operating within an Industry 4.0 warehouse or manufacturing facility must comply with security standards and support simple, over-the-air software updates for patches and security fixes.
The supply chain pressure of the past few years is driving warehouse digital transformation—namely Intralogistics 4.0. AMRs are a key part of this transformation, but they do not operate in isolation and need to support the application of Industry 4.0 to logistics. Therefore, implementing AMRs allows facilities to improve operations dramatically, increasing productivity, safety, and output to match the growing demands of the retail sector.