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Robotic Software Takes Control

Just like WES, robot operating systems are undergoing a transformation that may change the way we manage distribution centers.


In the spring of 2016, I drove to Devens, Mass., to see something truly new in the post-Kiva era: Autonomous mobile robots in a production setting at a Quiet Logisticse-fulfillment distribution center. Locus Robotics, the startup company founded by Bruce Welty and Mike Johnson, was still more concept than commercial product, but even then, Welty envisioned a multi-billion-dollar business for autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) in the warehouse. A little over a year later, I had the opportunity to watch another first: a mobile piece-picking robot from IAM Robotics at work at Rochester Drug’s distribution center in New York.

While the two robots were filling orders in very different ways, what they shared was integration: In both instances, the robots were integrated with a warehouse management system (WMS) that directed their tasks as if the robots were associates on the floor.

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Source: Bob Trebilcock, Modern Materials Handling Magazine

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