Autonomous mobile robots are only part of the equation for increasing order-fulfillment efficiency in response to accelerating e-commerce demand. GreyOrange Pte. Ltd. last week announced that it has obtained patents for technologies it said will help companies with high-yield omnichannel fulfillment, as well as optimizing the use of facility space through multilevel operations.
The company, whose core operations are in Singapore, the U.S., Germany, Japan, and India, offers artificial intelligence and mobile robots for warehouse operations. GreyOrange said its Fulfillment Operating System uses the GreyMatter software and machine learning to manage orders, analyze real-time and predictive data, and manage robots and human workers. The software was updated late last year.
GreyOrange patents AI for fulfillment
The company said its latest patents cover the following capabilities:
First-to-Fill Technology: GreyOrange said the AI within GreyMatter can assess the demand characteristics of each inventory item or stock-keeping unit (SKU). Based on each SKU’s characteristics and how they relate to those of other SKUs, the system can determine SKU storage locations and configure automated retrieval patterns for goods-to-person (GTP) robots to efficiently fulfill the most popular items by channel, it said.
Retail-Ready Fulfillment: GreyMatter can also understand inventory placement in stores and optimize the packing and routing of store replenishment orders according to each store’s preference, said GreyOrange. This can reduce the time and labor required to move inventory from back-room receiving to a store shelf or another location such as a pallet in an aisle.
Proprietary algorithms can consider optimal replenishment delivery routes, inventory needs, and placement preferences, the company said. They can do this by store, inventory delivery format (individual items, cases, or pallets), and capacities of the containers or trolleys used to transport replenishment inventory.
Multilevel Robot Mobility: One or more autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can place or retrieve from multiple floors or mezzanines in a distribution center (DC) inventory housed in mobile storage units, coordinating travel paths with elevators or lifts. This enables companies to optimize the use of AMRs in both horizontal and vertical space in a DC to maximize inventory volumes and throughput capacity.
Workers can remain on one level at pick-put stations, while Ranger GTP robots access elevators serving other levels of the DC, retrieve goods, bring them to stations for order fulfillment and take incoming inventory to assigned staging areas on any level. This minimizes human touch points, eliminates manual retrieval and placement of inventory, and maximizes facility use and fulfillment throughput, claimed GreyOrange.
The Ranger GTP mobile robot received UL certification in July.
New technologies offer flexibility, says CTO
The newly patented technologies can help customers optimize warehouse operations, especially in the face of sudden and dramatic market shifts such as those in response to the current pandemic, stated Akash Gupta, chief technology officer at GreyOrange.
“COVID-19 has illuminated how crucial operational flexibility and intelligence-driven fulfillment prioritization is in managing through market disruptions,” he said. “Using AI-driven software combined with smart robots to maximize efficiency and better serve customers is an effective way companies can extend their advantage, especially when competitors are struggling to adapt.”
“We’ve seen during COVID-19-driven store shutdowns that companies with GreyMatter have been able to adapt quickly to spiking e-commerce demand by intelligently adapting to steep changes in inventory and order characteristics, seamlessly transforming large portions of store operations to e-commerce operations,” Gupta said. “Those with robot-assisted and AI-informed systems are at an even greater advantage, as they can augment performance and throughput even when operating short-staffed, giving DCs the flexibility they need to keep up shifting demands,” Gupta concluded.