Are Autonomous Mobile Robots Right for Your E-Commerce Operation

AMRs have become an increasingly popular option when designing or re-engineering fulfillment operations, but are they right for you? There are a number of suppliers of AMRs, each offering a unique combination of physical configuration, operational functionality, and information systems sophistication. Boiling it all down, AMRs are smart transportation devices that can be leveraged to avoid unnecessary “footsteps”, increasing pick density, and boosting productivity as a result. One of their inherent advantages over traditional pick modules leveraging conveyor-based transportation systems is a compressed timeline for design, acquisition, and implementation.

That being said, AMRs are not a one-size-fits-all solution and may in fact not be the best solution for your unique business model and circumstances. AMR technology should be among many potential solutions to be vetted as part of an engineering-based comparative analysis considering process, systems, infrastructure, and labor alternatives. Each alternative must be quantified in terms of capital cost, recurring cost (labor impact), service-level contribution, ROI, capacity, throughput, flexibility, scalability, implementation complexity/timeline, and risk. Only by comparing the alternatives to a base model (which may be the existing operation in the case of a reengineering project) can you determine the optimal solution.  

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