Wynright in the News

Robotics: On a case-by-case basis

When their prowess in manufacturing proved a liability in warehousing and distribution, robots were forced to rapidly evolve.

March 1,  2015

By: Josh Bond, Associated Editor, Modern Materials Handling

For several years now, industrial robot suppliers have worked to penetrate warehousing and distribution applications like palletizing, picking and case handling. Early missteps resulted from poor pairings, where a robot proven in a production environment struggled with order fulfillment, or specialized control software synced up awkwardly with existing systems, or robots were introduced as a cure-all without appreciation for their impact on upstream and downstream processes. In other cases, the justification for investment didn’t hold up over time, or simply wasn’t there to begin with.

Robotic solutions and related methodologies have almost completely overcome an impressive number of these challenges in just the past two years. But rapid shifts in market pressures and customer demands have been equally impressive, and as soon as a solution and application approach harmony, the target moves again. The limited availability of labor favors robotics alternatives, but SKU proliferation remains a challenge. Nimble grippers allow robots to handle a case securely, but that SKU’s packaging characteristics could change suddenly and without warning.

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