Robotisation in retail & logistics – overview for 2020, part I

Wpis dostępny jest także w języku: polski

As far as saturation with robots is concerned, the Polish market is unfortunately in the tail of the rankings, which is quite surprising if we take into account, for example, Polish GDP (where we have 22nd place in the world) or Human Development Index (Poland with 32nd place in the world).

Bartlomiej Latka, Sales Director at Euvic IT

In 2014, wrote that “Poland, with the value of the index at 18, is at the bottom of the ranking. Higher density of robotization than Poland is characteristic not only for countries that are among the leaders in this respect, but also for countries with a similar level of development, such as Hungary or Slovakia. The average robotisation density in Europe is 4.4 times higher than in Poland (compared to the previous year, Poland reduced the distance to Europe by 1.1 points), while the global average is over 3 times higher”. Since 2014, however, a lot has changed. According to IFR, 74% of new robots have been installed in 5 countries such as: China, Japan, USA, Korea and Germany. In the industry, robot saturation has more than doubled (from 44 to 99 robots per 10,000 people employed and from 200,000 to 400,000 robots per year), with some stagnation and lack of growth forecasts for the future.

What about the trade and logistics industry? IFR reports include it only recently, but according to one of them, in this segment that the growth of robotisation is very impressive and amounts to 60% per year.

Types of robots used in trade and logistics

The robots used in the trade and logistics industry can be divided into: arms (articulated robots, Cartesian, SCARA, PUMA, Tripod, delta…), vision systems (MVS or Machine Vision Systems) and mobile robots (AGV = Automated Guided Vehicles, AMR = Autonomous Mobile Robots).

Robotic arms

Robotic arms replace human hands in packaging processes, orientation of products on tape or in a box, picking of complex orders and marking of products or packages. Among these solutions are particularly popular:

  • Parcel induction – correcting the orientation of the product on the tape or in the package on the basis of image analysis and placing packages on the tape in the desired way
  • Case packing – packing and consolidation of orders in boxs/cartons
  • Goods-to-Person Fulfillment – preparation and delivery to the packing station of finished sets (products, documents, packaging), where the final work is done by a person.

Vision systems

Machine Vision systems automatically control the work done by man or other machines, by analysing the image recorded by industrial cameras. If a deviation from the assumed standard is detected (e.g. a sticker located in the wrong place, lack of one of the elements included in the set, wrong orientation of the element in the box or an illegible barcode), the system starts a programmed action, e.g. stopping the production line, marking the element as defective, triggering an alarm or redirecting the product to a side line. Vision systems often support the work of both robotic arms and mobile robots and are also used in product safety systems (traceability).

Machine Vision systems allow you to automate quality control processes. Thanks to their use it becomes possible:

  • Limiting the number of complaints through a comprehensive, automated control of installation correctness.
    Verification of compliance of products with the specification, including verification of product version or completeness.
    Machine measurement of assembly accuracy or precision of product positioning.
    Automation of notification of a defect through notification, marking of a product with a defect and control of a production line.
    Automatic control of mandatory equipment (helmet, mask).
    Automatic, non-contact measurement of workers’ body temperature.
    Theft detection support through self-detection based on historical data and real-time face analysis.
    Detection of anomalies in the production and warehouse space – obstacles, abandoned objects, high temperature and others.
Photo: vision systems, Source: Euvic

The next part of the article, about mobile robots will be published in the next article.

The author of the article is Bartlomiej Latka, Sales Director at Euvic IT.

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