Order fulfilment, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence – New trends and advantages for Retail companies

We have often talked about the ways in whichArtificial intelligence is taking over, more and more forcefully, the scene linked to innovations for the digital transformation of business and industrial processes, especially for the sector Retail.

Frequently, we have also associated AI with warehouse management, considering it the driving force of evolution from the traditional WMS (Warehouse Management System) to Smart WMS.

And again, we didn't fail to highlight the huge improvement potential that Artificial Intelligence can guarantee to the retail world, from the demand forecasting and purchase intention up to Marketing Automation and to Lead Generation, from the inventory management up to advanced and personalized services such as Chatbots.

What else is left to say, then?

It remains to plumb the deep seabed of the upcoming trends linked to the relationship between Artificial Intelligence and Retail, starting from what appears to be a key innovation area: robotic order fulfillment.

Retail and innovation

Let's start with a premise: the retail sector, more generally than Retail, is and continues to be «a hotbed of innovation».

The report states this “Robotics in Retail: Robotic order fulfillment" Of GlobalData. According to the study, in fact, in the last three years alone, they have gone further 133 thousand patents filed and granted in the retail sector.

Driving profitable innovation in the sector, the report itself clarifies, are activities driven by operational efficiency, convenience and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and the cloud.

However, not all innovations seem to follow an upward trend, with their evolution appearing to follow rather an “S” curve; a typical form of a life cycle that passes from an initial emergency phase, with accelerated adoption, to then stabilize and reach true maturity.

To truly understand the current level of each innovation, therefore, it is essential to be able to distinguish between emerging, accelerating and maturing (or already consolidated) ones.

This is a job in which the Technology Foresights by GlobalData, which mapped out the S-curve for Retail, using innovation intensity models based on beyond 128,000 patents, identifying over 70 areas of innovation that will shape the future of the sector.

Among these, the same report highlights 12, which we propose below in their context:

During acceleration:
– Automated assistance for the commercial structure
– Automatic shelves for goods distributors
– Robotic order fulfillment
– Automated inventory management
– Autonomous delivery vehicles
– Robotic warehouse management
– Autonomous delivery security systems

– Automated shoe production
– Shop without cashier
– Autonomous management of deliveries
– Robot navigation in store

It turns out instead in an emerging phase, and to be kept under close monitoring, only autonomous vending, currently in the early stages of application.

Robotic order fulfillment

Among the accelerating innovations, this one undoubtedly stands out of robotic order fulfillment.

A status that has clearly been earned not only due to the interest of retail companies, with a view to optimizing the Supply Chain, but also in terms of companies, including technology providers, retail companies and emerging startups, engaged in the development and application of robotic order fulfillment.

The GlobalData report provides some examples, starting from three evaluation criteria:

Number of patents filed, in which realities such as those of are affirmed Cox Enterprises, Nuro, Alphabet And Walmart.
The latter even opened a state-of-the-art logistics center in November 2022 that uses machine learning, robotics and automatic storage to achieve faster delivery times and greater productivity.

There diversity of applications, which measures the number of different applications for each relevant patent.
Actors such as stand out in this sense Cox Enterprises, No, Emerging Automotive and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance.

There geographic scope, which refers to the number of different countries in which each patent is registered.
Here instead actors like Alphabet, Coca-Cola Enterprises Great Britain, Ocado Group And Locus Robotics.

But what exactly is robotic order fulfillment?

It is an automated system that uses robots (now more often Cobots) to carry out the picking, packing and shipping of orders, thanks to a integration of software and hardware, which allows robots to perform tasks autonomously and precisely.

In fact, robots, especially if collaborative, can be programmed to collect and transfer products from warehouse to warehouse, work in collaboration with humans and other robots, and send orders directly to customers.

The benefits of robotic order fulfillment

At this point, all that remains is to list what the advantages for retail companies that choose to rely on a solution like that of robotic order fulfillment.

These, in detail, fall in the order of:

  • Better efficiency and speed: Thanks to the use of robots, companies can process orders faster, reducing waiting times for customers. Furthermore, the robots are able to work 24/7 without stopping for breaks or rest.
  • Cost reduction: Robotic order fulfillment can lead to a significant cost reduction for companies, as the use of robots leads to a reduction in labor and related costs.
  • Reduction of errors: Robots can perform picking and packing operations with greater precision than human workers. This means errors can be kept to a minimum, ensuring orders are shipped correctly.
  • Customizing orders: Thanks to the ability of robots to process large amounts of data, companies can customize orders very precisely, meeting the specific needs of each customer.
  • Greater safety at work: Using Cobots for order fulfillment can reduce the risk of workplace injuries for human workers. This means that human operators can be used for other tasks, or work alongside Cobots in complete safety and maximizing results.

Our solution

For the optimization of Supply Chain, and from the perspective of the paradigm of Logistics 4.0, in TOD System we have developed a solution within reach of small and medium-sized businesses.

This is our revolutionary todrobot TR1, the mobot/cobot equipped with AI and integrated 3D viewer in the mechanical arm.

Increasing requests for orders, difficulties in finding labor for non-stop work shifts and ergonomic deficiencies. These are just some of the questions to which our todrobot TR1 can give an answer.

The use of autonomous machines such as todrobot TR1 guarantees efficiency, to meet market needs, but also low costs, speed and simplicity of implementation.

This is thanks to its character as a ready-to-use machine, without inconvenient and often imposing dedicated structures, which makes todrobot TR1 also perfect for work in small spaces, without the need for environmental enrichment.

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Technical catalog on integrated robotic solutions for warehouse logistics.