Via the Growth Matters blog, I stumbled upon an IEEE Spectrum article on a new, robotic MHE that has entered the market since 2005, "Three Engineers, Hundreds of Robots, One Warehouse."
Because I work on Manhattan's WMOS product for warehouse management, the article is quite interesting and has me wondering how our product could be integrated with such a system. From my experience simply as a consultant, I can see immediately where this system could add value:
- A facility where most picking is already packaged goods--for example, goods already boxed/packaged for easy picking and/or multi-product packing.
- A facility where ceiling height demands shorter racking solutions.
- Relatively smaller footprint facilities in densely populated areas that require shorter ceiling height, shorter racking and multiple stories (and thus elevator-facilitated movement).
- New facilities that can design from scratch or that already utilize a small number of MHE.
These are just some initial conditions that come to mind. Interestingly, there is no mention in the article of the impact on other activies such as product putaway at inbound, replenishment and cycle count (regular counting of product). I am sure these have been addressed at some point given the size of their customers.
Since I have a friend at Daifuku, the #1 Japan warehouse racking/storage system provider, I will forward this on to get his comments and maybe post those here...I think this type of system would be attractive in Japan's dense, urban markets and declining labor pool.
UPDATE: This Kiva should not be confused with the OTHER Kiva.