In the digital and modern factory, Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) are lending us a helping hand. They are a new breed of colleagues that have already enriched Industry 4.0, especially in intralogistics, and are set to lead us toward a more collaborative Industry 5.0 in the years to come, where humans and machines work hand in hand. Let’s take a deep dive into your new companions and what they can do with our experts from 4am Robotics in our Mobile Robotics business segment.
We’re set to experience an exciting shift from Industry 4.0 to Industry 5.0 over the next few years. This might sound surprising to you, as digital transformation hasn’t fully taken hold everywhere. However, Industry 5.0 doesn't simply replace Industry 4.0; it expands on the progress that’s been made to date. The collaboration between humans and AMRs is becoming more in-depth, with the aim of utilizing the strengths of both as efficiently and effectively as possible. Human abilities such as creativity, flexibility, and social intelligence are cleverly combined with the efficiency benefits of automation and digitization, creating a harmonious and powerful symbiosis.
So, who exactly is behind our new team members?
“If you're thinking of articulate androids from science fiction films, you're mistaken. Although they move autonomously amongst us human colleagues, fortunately, they won’t get on our nerves with inappropriate comments and crazy ideas. Instead, these smart robots take on risky and repetitive tasks, freeing up our hands and minds to take on more demanding activities”, said Jochen Carle, Managing Director of 4am Robotics. What’s amazing is, they‘re able to:
• Perceive their environment
• Make decisions
• Navigate autonomously in real-time
– ideal for production and intralogistics environments where requirements frequently change.
Similar to humans, each team member has different skills, responsibilities, and appearances – just like the 4am Robotics portfolio, ranging from autonomous tugger trains and forklifts, to mobile cobots.
What does working with robots look like in practice?
Imagine entering the spacious halls of your E-commerce company as an employee in the morning. Early in the day, your colleague Henry is at work – an autonomous tugger train loaded with goods, navigating skillfully and entirely independently through the warehouse. Meanwhile, his outdoor colleague Susan is handling tasks outside, receiving fresh deliveries and transporting them to the warehouse entrance. In the world of E-commerce and logistics, where the demand for rapid deliveries is constantly increasing, autonomous mobile colleagues provide invaluable support. They can handle up to eight tons of payload. Monotonous routines from early morning until late in the day, or in rainy weather, are now a thing of the past. These autonomous assistants take charge, not just in the warehouse, but also in the outdoor area, whatever the weather. But don't worry, your job is by no means at risk – on the contrary, new opportunities are on the horizon for you. Due to repetitive tasks being automated; you can now focus more intently on specific tasks and concentrate on activities that create greater value for the business.
As you pass through the high-bay warehouses, you might encounter Julia, an autonomous forklift. But don't worry, Julia won't get in your way or run over your feet. For an autonomous robot such as Julia to become part of your intralogistics team, it must meet strict safety requirements as per Performance Level D (ISO safety standard). Julia, with her clever 2D/3D cameras and sensors, effortlessly makes the grade. She is your colleague that has an eye for detail, capable of navigating through narrow aisles skillfully, thanks to automatic container size detection and dynamic adaptation of the protective field. Our job is to provide Julia with accurate location information and the exact requirements for storage and shipping processes. This enables her to independently plan the best routes and deliver cargo to predefined drop-off points safely.
No more rushing to manually retrieve pallets from the shelf under time pressure. Oops, a pallet is broken and has fallen from the forklift fork! Or it’s carrying too much weight, causing the forklift to tip over – unfortunately, accidents in the warehouse aren’t that uncommon. You can breathe a sigh of relief though: thanks to Julia and her skills such as checking for pallet breakage or weight detection, you’re no longer in the danger zone.
Let's say you are responsible for what’s known as the "Picking Zone" in the company's commissioning process, where you finally assemble the goods for the packages. The goods taken from the high-bay warehouse shelves by Julia are brought directly to your location. Andre, your reliable cobot with a flexible gripper arm, adjusts the goods from the forklift right to where you need them in your work area, and positions them in just the right place – without bending over or carrying heavy loads. Do you know how many kilograms a person can safely carry? And for how long? Approximately 15 kg once or twice per hour. In contrast, Andre can effortlessly carry 15 kg at any time, allowing you to work ergonomically to the highest standards. Your focus is now on completing packages on time and correctly. As you can see, working hand in hand (or robot arm) isn’t just an expression we use, you can see it in practice every day.
In summary, Henry, Susan, Julia, and Andre enable a smooth and efficient material flow, ensuring your safety. You can fully concentrate on your tasks, where your judgment, experience, and expertise are needed – or you can even move on to entirely new projects. It's a win-win situation, especially considering the significant shortage of skilled workers in intralogistics.
Would you like to meet your new tireless colleagues in person? 4am Robotics will be at this year's LogiMAT 2024 in Stuttgart – bringing their AMR colleagues for a seamless and end-to-end automated goods flow. Find all the information you need for your visit here.
Visit us at booth ES43, East Entrance!