Decoding Elegant Robotics: Unveiling the Future of Warehouse Automation
If you’ve spent any time reading through our website, you’ve likely come across the term “elegance” more than a few times. And it’s easy to just dismiss it as another tagline in the vast sea of content marketing, but for us at Exotec® , this is not just a marketing phrase, it is a design philosophy.
The approach started with the idea of mathematical elegance. That is: finding solutions and proofs that are surprisingly simple yet insightful. There are plenty of definitions of mathematical elegance out there but, the key tenets typically include:
- Simplicity: An elegant mathematical proof or solution tends to be simple, cutting straight to the heart of the problem without unnecessary steps or complicated calculations.
- Creativity: Elegant solutions often involve an innovative or unexpected approach to the problem. They may use creative insight to bypass a seemingly difficult or complex issue.
- Generality: If a solution not only solves the problem at hand but also can be applied to a wider class of similar problems, it may be considered more elegant. Proof that covers a general case instead of just a specific instance often exhibits elegance.
The bottom line is, elegant solutions make complex things simple.
Reigning in the Complexity
Warehouses are complex. Storing, picking, packing, and shipping thousands or even millions of items every day, with little to no room for error. Unfortunately, this means automated solutions built for warehouses often mirror this complexity with convoluted designs that require an immense amount of engineering to implement and maintain. Traditional Automated Storage and Retrieval (AS/RS) solutions perfectly demonstrate the point.
Take a traditional shuttle system as an example. These systems typically consist of shuttles dedicated to specific aisles and a complex series of elevators and conveyors that help move goods between multiple levels in an aisle and eventually get them to warehouse operators. This complexity puts stringent limitations on the system, especially when it comes to the flexibility of the solution. Scaling a shuttle system for example would involve significant modifications to the existing infrastructure, costing time and money. Not to mention that should a single point of this system (like the elevator) fail, then a large portion of inventory could become inaccessible for a long period of time.
Making Things Easy is Hard
At Exotec, we did the hard work of making things easy from the moment our autonomous mobile robots leave our manufacturing plant in France all the way to installation, maintenance, and eventually scaling the system to fit the evolving customer needs. This is possible due to the design choices we made when conceptualizing the Skypod® system. The key component of our system include:
- Storage: The simple design of our static racks allows for quick deployment (weeks) and easy expansion (days) of existing systems. We also give you the choice between storage bins and trays enabling both piece and case picking.
- Robots: Our robots are the only moving part of the system. Each robot is mission-agnostic, meaning that even in the event of a failure, the system continues to operate and prioritize the most urgent orders with the rest of the fleet. This also allows for a rapid retrieval times of two minutes or less for all SKUs within the system.
- Picking Stations: Stations enable operators to stand in one location while our Skypod robots travel from the racks to the stations with the items needed for each order. Everything from the height of the bins and screens to the padded resting pads, has been designed to reduce the strain and fatigue of human operators.
- Software: Our end-to-end warehouse software orchestrates every element of the Skypod system and coordinates it with third-party equipment. The software leverages advanced algorithms that connect to any WMS and WCS to coordinate and optimize order fulfillment.
Your Warehouse is Complex, Your Automated Solutions Don’t Need to Be
Instead of iterating on existing AS/RS designs, we invented a new one with each component designed to be simple to deploy, operate, maintain, and scale. We know your warehouse operations are complex, and we don’t want to layer on the complexity. We don’t do lengthy projects that require years of planning and Frankensteining together different bespoke solutions. Instead, we sell products. Modular, performant, and reliable. That is what “Elegance” means at Exotec.
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