Back at ProMat 2007, small crowds gathered around the booths of Kiva Systems, Seegrid and RMT Robotics even though all three had relatively inconspicuous booths. The crowds gathered because each supplier was demonstrating something new: small mobile units that ran around the limited floor space.
Although Kiva displayed an integrated picking solution that included portable storage units, most people didn’t quite know what to do with these gizmos.
They didn’t look like traditional robots since they didn’t have arms. But they were also smaller than a traditional automated guided vehicles (AGV) and used different guidance systems.
What they did have was pizzazz. The technology they previewed has since become known as mobile robotics: autonomous vehicles that can shuttle materials around a factory or distribution center. Of course, the materials handling industry is replete with cool technologies that never made it from the exhibition hall to the distribution center floor. Since then, however, the Kiva (781-221-4640) goods-to-person picking solution has found a home in a number of high-profile warehouses, including the Office Depot facility on this month’s cover (see page 20). In addition, Seegrid’s (877-733-4743) riderless vehicles are being used by a leading grocer to deliver pallets to the shipping dock so that pickers can remain in the aisle doing more valuable tasks. And, RMT’s (905-643-9700) technology is being used to deliver small quantities of parts to the line in lean, just-in-time manufacturing environments.
About the Author
Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.
Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling magazine
Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today
Pick or sort?
It may seem like a simple decision, but in reality, you need to take multiple factors into consideration when choosing a strategy to meet rapidly expanding retail fulfillment needs.
R. Keith Harrison, former global supply chain executive, to provide CPG expertise.
Company's total managed square footage to increase 10% to 7.5 million square feet.
The relationships between third-party logistics (3PL) service providers and shippers are seeing ongoing developments due in large part to the continuing emergence and sophistication of omni-channel retailing. That was one of the key findings of The 19th Annual Third-Party Logistics Study, which was released by consultancy Capgemini Group, Penn State University, and Korn/Ferry International, a global talent advisory firm.
Annual survey illustrates optimism resulting from increasing profits.