Why Are Autonomous Robots An Investment to Look At

A complete warehouse autonomy and process efficiency forms the hallmark of an effective supply chain practice.

As more and more companies embrace Industry 4.0 benchmarks, investments in automation and advanced technologies are at the forefront of savvy company’s strategic decisions. With a wide gamut of optimization available for warehouses, be it traditional AGVs or even AMRs, autonomous robots, especially high-lift robotic pallet handling trucks, remain one of the best investments to look for, and rightly so. Here are a few reasons why:


With solution-oriented robotic providers, you break the common myth that technological advancement= replacing humans. While autonomous robots are more than capable of performing the crucial tasks of a supply chain, they are here to collaborate, not replace. Investment in autonomous solutions provides an opportunity to reorganize your existing task force into more value-added services like production or manufacturing processes. By retraining their task force, companies today can increase their productivity and output capacity whilst limiting the cautious and repetitive tasks of load transfer to these infrastructure free high-lift robots.

One major benchmark warehouses look at is safer handling of both loads as well as the operators. Almost 23% of unplanned downtime in manufacturing is due to human error. This makes investing in autonomous robots a smart idea. By allowing advanced robots ( with precision handling and robust performance ), your goods transfer and handling ability will be safer, faster and completely autonomous. With integration to factory WMS, ERP companies will have greater control over inventory and thus increase operational efficiency.

Deploying robots can be a potential capex investment. However, for an effective analysis of your investment, calculating the estimated rate of investment (ROI) as accurately as possible will give you the big picture. Over a period of time, continuous and complex operations break-even at a remarkably early time, and within the span of your robot operations, will save you $$$ in operating cost, manpower and employee benefits, reduced goods damages, and better inventory control. With the help of an ROI tool, today most companies can calculate the potential savings in minutes. (You can evaluate one yourself:

It is quite common for autonomous robots to be compared with a fixed automation like conveyor belts or even AGVs since both are essentially used to transfer goods from one station to another. However, one major advantage of an autonomous robot over these systems is the ease of implementation. Autonomous robots run with a breakthrough navigation system, which maps the warehouse simultaneously and uses cameras and lasers to move pallets. This means that there is no additional infrastructure or other requirements needed to implement them. Fixed systems like conveyors or guided systems like traditional AGVs lack the ability to be mobile and require additional infrastructures to work. Keeping your existing operations intact, an autonomous robotic system also scores when there is a potential need to scale up the operations after a few years.

NOTE: Autonomous vs Automated system?

Autonomous robots vary from traditional AGVs. They are mobile and move around the warehouse without the requirement of a guidance system. Using advanced geo-navigation technology ( for example : SLAM ), they use real time location within the warehouse and calculate their optimal movement from pick and drop position, for horizontal or/and high-lift vertical applications.

Allan CHEW is a robotics expert and sales director for APAC at BALYO.


Get your copy of FOCUS Magazine Issue 80: Designing a Circular Economy World