For many companies, implementing pick and place robots in their warehouse is very new. Good preparation is needed. To come to the best decision, there are four phases to go through: exploration, proof of concept, design and implementation. In this blog series we will discuss what steps to take in each phase to ensure the successful implementation of pick and place robots in your warehouse. Now that you have passed the exploration phase and proof-of-concept phase, this third blog will help you designing a robot implementation plan. There are several subjects that should be included in the design of this plan:
What parts of your exploration phase are still unclear? What would you like to clear up? Especially think about:
Besides the functional requirements, it is principal to thoroughly think of the interfacing of the robot with surrounding hardware as well as your warehouse control system (WCS). To ensure smooth operation, the robot should be able to communicate with your WCS. In this step, it is key to:
Non-functional requirements are all the additional elements the robot might or will need for a seamless integration in your warehouse. Examine requirements such as:
With the information you have gathered on functional requirements, interfacing and non-functional requirements, you can design a floorplan determining where to place the pick and place robot(s) in your new or existing warehouse. When drawing this floorplan, it is essential to think about how the robot is integrated with the surrounding systems. Next to that, the accessibility depending on operator support is an important requirement to find the best layout.
Furthermore, think about how you would like to address service of the pick and place robot. As with any machine, it is likely that at some point issues might occur or maintenance is needed. The service you need depends on how critical the robot solution will be in your warehouse fulfillment process. Some questions to ask yourself when thinking about service are:
Another aspect to consider when designing your robot implementation plan is to inspect safety. How do you ensure the pick and place robot meets the safety requirements of your warehouse? Together with your supplier, you can determine possible risks and how to solve them.
Note that industrial robot solutions require a lot of safety measures by default, including a large safety cage around the solution. This has a severe impact on your floorspace. Cobots, on the other hand, do not need a safety fence and are easier to implement within an existing line. Nevertheless, cobots may require supplementary safety measures as well. For example, besides the standard safety features of a cobot that already ensure safe cooperation with people, you can add a safety scanner that ensures the robot moves slower while an operator is in close proximity.
In addition, also consider your operators. Automating manual tasks with a pick and place robot will change the jobs of your operators and warehouse employees significantly. Acceptance is key, as they will have to work together with a robot or cobot. Involve your employees in the process of automation and ensure they feel heard.
After analyzing all key aspects of implementing a robot in your warehouse, it is time to design the roll-out plan. Are you planning to implement multiple pick and place robots in your warehouse or even in multiple warehouses? It could be wise to start small and spread the roll-out over several phases. Even after extensive testing in the proof of concept phase, risks still exist. If you start small, any issues that occur will have less impact and there is still time and opportunity to improve the solution before further roll-out.
After the design phase, you will finally implement and optimize your pick & place robots. This phase will be discussed in the upcoming blog as part of the ‘implementing robots in your warehouse’ series. Stay tuned!
Learn how to implement the ideal pick & place robot in your warehouse. Leave your contact details and receive a download link to our free white paper.