drone scans palett rack

The Checklist for the next Level in warehouses

Countless logistics providers started to evaluate their processes in intralogistics. Their findings: Many processes show potential for improvement and there are numerous providers on the market, that promise to increase warehouse efficiency with the help of their solutions. Who has a closer look on digitalization in intralogistics will inevitably stumble across buzzwords like ‘blockchain’, ‘artificial intelligence’ and ‘robotics’. And a lot of logistics companies plan to deploy these technologies. But considering the sheer quantity of technology-providers, some basic questions remain unanswered: What effort does the integration of the new technology involve? Do I need to change already existing infrastructure? How will the new technology affect already established processes and workflows? And most importantly: Is my warehouse ready for new technologies, e.g. inventory drones?

Manual stocktaking is an example for a process that is highly time-consuming. At the same time it holds high accident risks and is prone to error. Executing the task requires at least two employees and a forklift or lift truck to reach the higher pallet positions. The logistics sector faces a general skills shortage and time pressure is increasing. Keeping that in mind, very costly mistakes can occur. inventAIRy® XL adresses those problems by automatically collecting and processing stock data in pallet rack areas. The processed stock data can be directly uploaded and compared to  WMS/ ERP-systems.

The scenario of deploying modern technology, like inventory drones,  may sound like science fiction and a high-effort integration process, but actually it is not. We have prepared a checklist of things that have to be considered when planning to integrate new technology in a warehouse.

 

1. Do I need to change or modify already existing infrastructure?

To integrate inventAIRy® XL, our inventory drone, in a warehouse there is no need for far-reaching changes in already existing infrastructure. The solution navigates through the warehouse independently. By driving through the entire warehouse once, inventAIRy® XL can create a map and navigate automatically in the future. After mapping the warehouse, stocktaking can be easily planned from behind the desk. After choosing the aisles that need to be inventoried, the solution, a combination of a drone and an AGV (Automated Guided Vehicle) with a landing platform, automatically heads to the chosen aisles and inventorises the stored goods. After finishing that task, it returns to a charging dock. Besides the charging dock, no further installations are required.

In order to prevent time consuming IT adjustments, the basic features of the system do not require internet connection. To use advanced features, a connection to the internet necessary. This can be realized either with integration in your system or with a mobile router. Both ways ensure the safety of your network.

2. How do I integrate the solution in already established processes and workflows?

Our customers deploy inventAIRy® XL independently and in freely selected intervals. Hence, there are no external guidelines to obey. The high level of automation, as a result of up to five hours of continuous operation, makes the solution unique and creates opportunities other drone-bases inventory systems can not create: The use in idle times. To put it concisely: The solution can be deployed when no one is left in the warehouse, for example during nights. When the next shift commences, stocktaking in the chosen area is completed and the stock data are uploaded to WMS/ ERP-System. Already established processes and workflows remain unaffected.

3. Do my employees need special training?

Since inventAIRy® XL operates automatedly, there is no need for an employee to control the drone. Stocktaking is scheduled and activated from behind the desk and the solution starts stocktaking automatically. The cumbersome process of manual stocktaking can be either complemented or even substituted by an automated approach and employees can turn towards more value-adding tasks. To ensure a smooth integration, we offer training for employees to increase their awareness for the products functionalities and workflows.

4. Are there specific regulations when deploying autonomous drones indoors?

Whilst there are extensive regulations for autonomous drones operating outdoors, these regulations do not apply for drones operating indoors. Inside a warehouse, defining and implementing guidelines for occupational safety is the employers responsibility. Of course we are happy to share our experiences and offer advisory support. The inventory drone operates in combination with an AGV, to which it is connected with a cable. That means that in actual fact the drone hovers above the AGV and can land on the landing platform anytime. Additionally the drone, as well as the AGV, are equipped with comprehensive security mechanisms, various sensors for collision avoidance and mechanisms for emergency landing in case the sensors detect abnormalities.