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Can Autonomous Motorized Utility Carts Solve Warehouse Optimization Challenges?

Carrie Konopacki
May 28, 2020

Busy, profitable warehouses are generally viewed as successful warehouses. But does success equate to efficiency? Not always.

Warehouse optimization is an essential part of sound business operations. Understanding potential sticking points, leveraging and measuring performance processes, and incorporating beneficial technologies such as robotic mobile utility carts all contribute to improved warehouse efficiency...but how?

Warehouse Optimization Obstacles

Your warehouse has many assets, chief among them being inventory and labor. However, warehouse space can be detrimental to both. Too little space and you could be spending extra time searching through the inventory management system. At worst, tracking processes and documentation are duplicated for the sake of pick tickets. Either way, a considerable amount of time — and money — are wasted as pickers scramble to find items.

The same holds true having too much warehouse space, but with the added element of having workers often repeatedly traverse distances to complete a task. Based on anecdotal warehouse employee feedback, walking 11 miles or more during a single shift is common practice.1 Apply that to your situation: How many of your employees are racking up necessary but time-eating miles throughout your warehouse either on foot or driving forklifts, etc.? What does that mean in productivity dollars? What value do those travel times add?

Key Performance Indicators for Improved Warehouse Efficiency

Maybe you’re already aware of the obstacles your warehouse is facing, but aren’t certain about how to address the inefficiencies. Putting data to your assumptions will bring gaps to light, and key performance indicators (KPIs) are the solution.

KPIs give you a global understanding of the warehouse processes that are serving you, and those that need attention. Receiving, putaway, storage, picking, packing, distribution, and returns all impact performance. Each area can be parsed into a number of KPIs, but not surprisingly they tend to point toward data that drill into time, productivity, and utilization. The resulting ratios speak to costs and, at the end of the day, warehouse efficiency.

A common denominator among the KPIs is labor, which requires you to closely examine if and how you’re best allocating resources. Empowering workers through the strategic use of technology fosters warehouse optimization.

Get More Done With Motorized Utility Carts

Autonomous robotics are on the shop floors and wish lists of decision makers across a range of industries. Warehouse robotics continue to gain traction as a simple way to boost ROI by taking lesser tasks off employees whose skill sets are better applied elsewhere.

Among the most popular advances are Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs). These autonomous motorized utility carts are attractive since automating material handling and delivery significantly increases worker capacity. However, it can be a bit of a catch-22. Many of the autonomous motorized utility carts on the market are extremely sophisticated — which often means any potential time saved by the technology is funneled into training.

MARC from MūL Technologies is a completely different approach to motorized utility carts. Instead of over-designing the solution because technology allows, MARC combines commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components with minimum custom hardware to create intelligence and movement. MARC requires no infrastructure to implement, and is so easy to operate and maintain there’s no wasted work time or elaborate training required. Plus, with no extraneous bells and whistles, MARC offers maximum warehouse optimization at about one-fifth the cost of others.

Efficiency isn’t just a number on a spreadsheet. It’s critical for all warehouse operations, and motorized utility carts such as MARC are affordable solutions for boosting productivity and profitability. Contact the MūL Technologies team for more information and to schedule a time to meet MARC.

MARC mobile autonomous robotic cart

SOURCE
1CNBC, Manufacturing is facing a growing skills gap that is leaving hundreds of thousands of positions open, October 4, 2019

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