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Software and robotics company GreyOrange announced in mid-August that it would partner with eight major warehouse and logistics companies to optimize warehouse operations.
The CEO of GreyOrange said the partnerships would enable GreyOrange to “not simply optimize their operations, but co-create a warehouse automation system that can scale for the needs of their desired future state.” Its new partnerships will help GreyOrange reach its goal of deploying 20,000 warehouse robots in the US before the end of 2024, at which point the US market for such products is expected to reach $20 billion.
GreyOrange will likely deploy two of its core robotic offerings — Butler and Sorter — to help its new partners optimize operations. Here’s how these kinds of robotics make warehouse operations more effective:
- Goods-to-person systems: These systems move goods around warehouses using a fleet of Roomba lookalikes and compatible storage racks. GreyOrange’s Butler devices can pick up storage racks and maneuver them around a warehouse, work that would normally fall to a forklift operator. The Butlers have an advantage, though, in that they can communicate seamlessly with an AI system that directs them where to go and how to optimize transportation. Amazon operates similar goods-to-person systems in its warehouses, systems which stemmed from its $775 million purchase of warehouse robotics company Kiva Systems in 2012. An Amazon executive said in 2016 that Kiva robots cut operating expenses by 20%.
- Sortation systems: A sortation system consists of a conveyor belt that, with the aid of IoT sensors and robotic arms, can sort packages according to destination, volume, and weight. The systems are modular, meaning they come in component parts and can be set up according to the needs of any particular warehouse. Beyond sorting items at a very fast rate (GreyOrange’s Sorter systems can sort 6,000 parcels per hour), sortation systems can optimize package groupings in order to reduce shipping costs.
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