- A collaboration between Honeywell and Carnegie Mellon University will use artificial intelligence and robotics to improve productivity and order fulfillment in distribution centers, the company announced in a press release.
- Honeywell Intelligrated, a certified robot integrator by the Robotic Industries Associations, and Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) are focusing on developing a next-generation architecture to control and operate multiple robotics applications via machine learning.
- The Platform will deploy advanced robotics in unpredictable, ever-changing environments "to enable critical decision-making capabilities, intelligent motion, collision avoidance and reliable sensing."
There’s really no question that e-commerce is booming, making it more difficult for warehouses to meet consumer demand. According to Statista, e-commerce sales in the United States will rise from $360.3 billion in 2016 to $638 billion in 2022. It’s no wonder that distribution centers are feeling stressed, but as in many other cases, here comes technology.
"As online order fulfillment keeps growing at a fast pace, there is an increasing demand to increase throughput in the DC," Herman Herman, Director, NREC, at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute, told Supply Chain Dive. "To address that need, we are working on various configurable robotic solutions that will allow higher operational rate performance while addressing the dynamic nature of products seen within the DC. This is being done while managing the constraints seen in this environment, which includes space/footprint requirements as well as economic viability."
Because of strong demand and necessity, Herman said that an aggressive timeline calls for initial deployment sometime in 2019, adding that details of the system are still confidential. Testing will be done at customer sites, he said, but he can’t identify them now. “It’s safe to say that NREC and Honeywell Intelligrated, recognize the fact that customer feedback and involvement is critical when developing these types of innovative robotic solutions.”
The goal of the collaboration is to allow automation of more complex warehousing tasks, such as unloading shipping containers and picking packets or individual e-commerce orders, the press release noted. In addition to warehouse efficiency, employee safety could also increase because robots can be used to accomplish riskier tasks.