What is CollaboMation?
The warehousing and logistics industry are facing an unprecedented mandate to increase productivity. Demand, often fueled by multi-channel marketing, is soaring. The increases in speed, accuracy and efficiency required to meet this demand are far beyond what today’s technology seems capable of delivering. As a result, warehouse management is facing a challenging situation.
Automation solutions offer immense potential to solve this problem. However, full automation is rarely practical or even possible. The key is to foster a smooth and efficient collaboration between human workers and automated systems.
Too often, we look at automation through the lens of an “either/or” approach – full automation or none at all. The key to efficiency, however, is collaboration between automation technologies and the human worker. In other words, CollaboMation. By harnessing the unique strengths of both, warehouse management can begin to address the central dilemma of meeting exponentially increasing demand.
Putting CollaboMation into practice
CollaboMation is where collaboration meets automation. It is the seamless interaction between human workers and automated systems, working together in the same space but performing different process steps in parallel.
Intelligent approaches to CollaboMation include the use of automated guided vehicles (AGVs), autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), and collaborative robots (cobots). These are all examples of technologies that facilitate human-machine collaboration.
For example, cobots can help label food products, pack them into cartons, and stack them on pallets. AGVs can act as tractors, moving fully loaded picking carts to the designated shipping area. AMRs can guide workers to the right shelves and help them pick the right products.
Each of these solutions significantly increases efficiency and reliably streamlines processes. At the same time, they free workers from repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on areas where human characteristics add value, and improve safety by reducing heavy lifting.
Additional benefits of CollaboMation
By leveraging the strengths of both automated solutions and human workers, CollaboMation offers warehouse managers the ability to significantly improve productivity.
To further improve operations, data-driven analytics solutions can provide valuable insights and identify additional opportunities for improvement. By leveraging metadata collected by state of the art industry wearables, warehouse management can gain a bottom-up view of their processes to inform decision making. For example, they can identify which areas of the warehouse are underperforming, where there is an order fulfillment bottleneck, and which products are generating a high number of scan errors, to name a few.
Unlocking the future of warehouse productivity
In the warehouse environment, the barcode is the primary interface for human-machine communication and is at the heart of CollaboMation. It enables seamless collaboration and communication between humans and machines, enabling them to work together ergonomically. By continuously improving this communication process, warehouses can unlock new sources of incremental productivity gains.
While full automation offers unique potential, CollaboMation represents the future of warehouse operations. It is not a choice between full automation or none at all. Instead, it emphasizes collaboration between humans and machines to achieve optimal results. By embracing CollaboMation, warehouses can meet the increasing demands of the industry while ensuring a more efficient, productive, and safe working environment.
To learn more about how ProGlove can help you reap the benefits of CollaboMation, download our latest whitepaper “CollaboMate – 5 Tips for the Smart Combination of Humans and Robots”!