Importance of Robotic Implementation in the Supply Chain

Supply chain robotics

Robot synchronization with storage systems, including data resources requires precise strategic planning. It is critical to discuss the combination of robotics and storehouse operations to improve flexibility in the delivery of goods and overall general operations.

Enterprises can take advantage of robotics to improve adaptability, not only in their stores but throughout their entire supply chain. Robots have an edge in the operational role of companies by linking compliance or distribution operations with supply chain planning in a feasible way.

The implementation of robots is driven by the inherent challenges that stores face. They struggle to hire enough people, and when they do, it is a struggle to train and retain these employees, especially during seasonal peaks or in places that are far from urban centers. Hence, robotics represents a way to relieve the pressures and high costs that arise from labor shortages.

Robots are also incredibly efficient and reliable providing an advantage over traditional and fixed mechanized automation, such as transport systems or the traditional automated storage and recovery system. 

Mobile robotics allows stores to add or remove robots as needed. This means that maximum demand can be satisfied while saving costs in times of lower demand. This is a huge advantage for retailers, who struggle to predict long-term demand, and often have short logistics contracts with customers.

On the other hand, the integration of robotics in the Warehouse Management System (WMS) is fundamental. A WMS connected to a warehouse control system (WCS) or even a warehouse execution system (WES) can possibly control the flow of goods into and out of a warehouse, so it must be seamlessly integrated with robots and its operating systems.

Providentially, most robotics have really strong integration capabilities and see trouble-free interoperability as a commercial need for their solution. Hence, it is common for robotics providers to integrate seamlessly with any WMS, thanks to a strong focus on APIs. Integration is also getting easier as we find more cloud-based WMS. The challenges to achieving the synchronization of robots still remain, but at least the robotics providers are generally aware of the problems faced by the stores and do a great job dealing with them.

Use of additional data for optimization of the supply chain

Within the warehouse itself, robots can collect data that will allow continuous process improvements, such as route optimization or design. 

The supply chain, robotics and digitized operations have enormous potential to offer optimization of operations. If robots, drones or other devices are used to automatically monitor inventory levels in series, intelligent supply chain optimization tools can use this data to optimize where goods are shipped from.

However, optimized decision making can only take place if the precise quantity and location of the products are known. The combination of operational inventory data and smarter supply chain management software using AI could be a winning combination in the increasingly complex supply chain.