Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) technology—also known as warehouse robots—is now within the reach of mid-size companies. They provide more flexible material handling when used in conjunction with Motor-Driven Roller (MDR) and other conveyor systems, according to Ultimation Industries LLC. Ultimation is a woman-owned leader in conveyor technology and automation for over 30 years.
"AMRs have become common in large distribution companies such as Amazon and some Fortune 500 companies. But new technologies are making it easier and more affordable to deploy autonomous robots in companies of all sizes as a complement to other types of material handling equipment," said Richard Canny, president of Ultimation Industries.
Ultimation is partnering with Denmark's Nord-Modules to expand its portfolio of fast-to-market, productivity solutions. The strategic partnership will grow Nord-Modules' market share in North America, leading to future opportunities for local assembly and manufacturing to suit local customer requirements.
Nord-Modules delivers reliable robotic top modules for warehouse robot load solutions. These units provide superior returns on investment through optimal speed, space and flexibility and can be fitted to various AMR solutions.
According to Canny, warehouse robots are a good option for manufacturers and distributors of all sizes who need to transfer loads within their facilities quickly and without reconfiguring production lines or factory footprints. They can be deployed wherever and whenever needed, interfacing with existing conveyor systems and providing flexibility as volumes change.
Nord-Module's Quick Mover 180, for example, uses an autonomous robot base with a flexible top module that performs multiple material handling tasks and handles a plethora of materials—gates, half pallets, plastic boxes, carton boxes, carts and cobot solutions. Without changing top modules, manufacturers have the ability to integrate the Quick Mover with MDRs to:
The unit is controlled by a provided smartphone and can carry up to 485 pounds. Set-up and installation take approximately 30 minutes. Sensors help the Quick Mover 180 navigate quickly and safely around people, stationary objects and other obstacles.
"We've all heard about autonomous cars or self-driving vehicles on our roadways. While these technologies are still well into the future for cars and trucks, warehouse robots are bringing that level of intelligence and autonomous operation to the factory floor today," said Canny. He added that AMRs excel at repetitive tasks that are monotonous and potentially dangerous for humans, such as handling heavy loads.
"Warehouse robots are able to move their loads safely alongside production workers without the need for pre-programmed paths or routes. When obstacles appear, they quickly find alternate safe paths to the destination," he said.
A video of the process shows how material flows seamlessly from production lines to the AMR to the warehouse.
Solutions such as the Quick Mover 180 are now available through Ultimation's application and service team. Other Nord-Modules for AMRs include the Pallet Mover style motorized roller conveyor modules, which can carry over 3,000 pounds.
Ultimation is the leading direct-to-consumer conveyor manufacturer and specializes in solving productivity challenges with fast-to-deploy solutions. The company designs, manufactures and installs material handling equipment and has the capacity for automation component manufacturing and subassembly.
"As the industry transitions to the modern high-speed warehouse, innovations such as AMRs are providing the productivity and flexibility solutions they need," said Canny. Ultimation expects to announce additional relationships with strategic partners in the AMR space later this year.
Ultimation was named to the 2020 Inc. 5000 list of America's fastest growing private companies and was a 2019 finalist for Amazon's Woman-Owned Small Business Spotlight Awards.