Tools & Technologies

By Jared Dunlap

The Fetch Robotics
VirtualConveyor system’s
robots are designed to work
in challenging warehouse
environments side by side
with humans and their other
machines, including fastmoving
forklifts.

How to Fetch a more efficient warehouse operation

In today's world, customers are demanding that their orders arrive faster than ever without incurring additional costs.Sounds like a supply chain's worst nightmare, right? (Particularly in December during the holiday season.) Well, Fetch Robotics has developed a solution that helps increase overall warehouse efficiency by reducing nonproductive time within your operations.

Fetch Robotics' VirtualConveyor material transport system is one of the company's collaborative, autonomous mobile robot solutions for the warehousing and intralogistics market.

The system uses material transport robots to eliminate the time-consuming and often nonvalue-added activity of traveling from an order selection location to a drop-off point within a warehouse. The robots are designed to take orders between two locations, thus enabling warehouse workers to stay focused on the job at hand, continuously picking customer orders. The results can save anywhere from a few feet to a mile on each customer order.

The robots can navigate through the warehouse using a combination of lasers and a time-of-flight camera, which combine to allow the robots to adjust to obstructions in their path of travel. The VirtualConveyor robots can even see fast-moving vehicles like forklifts. The robots are designed to work side by side with humans, which allows your warehouse workers to stay focused on the manual order fulfillment tasks while the VirtualConveyor handles all warehouse travel-related activities.

The Fetch Robotics
VirtualConveyor system’s
robots are designed to work
in challenging warehouse
environments side by side
with humans and their other
machines, including fastmoving
forklifts.Even in warehouses with mixed inventory and products that vary in sizes and weights, the Fetch Robotics solution will work. Midsized and large platform models of the VirtualConveyor material transport system can handle weights up to 500 and 1,500 kilograms.

The robots are designed to charge to 90 percent within one hour, and they have a continuous run time of up to nine hours.

Users can easily add stations, preferred routes, speed maps and restricted zones for their entire facility using FetchCore, the cloud-based fleet management software from Fetch Robotics. Robot fleet movement can be viewed in real time using the software, and users have the ability to view individual robot health and activity.

Implementing the Fetch Robotics VirtualConveyor material transport system is easy and takes only a few minutes. Workflows can be set up and modified quickly, accommodating your dynamic warehouse environment without requiring facility changes, significant training or certifications.

This can increase warehouse throughput almost as soon as your organization deploys the robots. In one case, a warehouse was able to pick 30 percent more orders without incurring any additional labor expenditure. Efficiency gains like that make the Fetch Robotics platform an attractive option for warehouse operations.

The Silicon Valley startup also has developed an automated data collection platform, DataSurvey. The system can be used to gather data more accurately for internet of things (IoT) and big data applications to enable new levels of insights for customers.

Jared Dunlap is a manager at West Monroe Partners and the past president of IISE's Young Professionals group.

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