Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) have a number of unique components that can make them the perfect fit for your company. Navigating the world of AMRs can be intimidating, and a good relationship with your AMR provider is key. Steve Branch, senior director of sales engineering at Locus Robotics and Marlon Hall, head of Business Development at Techmetics Robotics, shared their thoughts on the most important selection criteria for AMRs. You can register to view the talk here, and the talk can be viewed here.
The right provider
The first step in finding the right AMR is finding the right AMR provider. It’s best to find a provider that has worked with companies similar to yours. They should have experience in your industry, and already know how to make their robots work for you.
“Don’t just look for a robot,” Branch said. “Look for a solution that’s worked with the environment and the use case that you’re looking to solve.”
Additionally, your AMR providers should be willing to make changes to their robots to make them fit your operation.
“We try to be customizable and flexible in whatever our offerings are, whether it’s a robotic suite that’s going to be in the warehouse, whether it’s in a healthcare facility, whether it’s in gardening, in agriculture,” Hall said. “Whatever it is, it’s customizable to your specific customer, because no customers are alike.”
It’s important to think about the logistics of putting AMRs in the space you’re working in. It’s important to ask how much space the number of robots you want will take up, where their chargers will be placed, and if the robots can fit into the spaces they need to work in. AMRs often require extra space to navigate quickly, so it’s likely that the robots will operate slower, on average, than the top speed that robotics companies advertise.
“You’ll want to make sure that the AMR not only can run on your surface, but it can navigate around your facility where it needs to,” Branch said.
Another important aspect of picking an AMR is power management. There are a lot of good questions to ask here. It’s important to know how many chargers you’ll need for the number of robots you have, ideally it’s not at 1:1 ratio, and how long the robots need to charge compared to how long they’ll run on that charge. According to Hall, it’s good for a robot to have about five times the runtime as it does charge time.
It’s also important to know how the robots respond to being low on power. Will they simply stop in the middle of a task if they run out of power? Or are they able to run on low power until they can get to a natural stopping point? Will they automatically charge themselves? If you’re buying robots outright, how long is the lifetime of the chargers?
“Look for a solution that’s adaptable and flexible,” Branch said. “You may be looking at it for one specific use case, but consider if you’re going to add other use cases in the future.”
Whether you’re looking to make a big change all at once, or begin with a few robots, it’s important to think about scalability. The robots you’re getting now will ideally be able to work alongside and communicate with any future robots you might get.
Switching to automation should make your facility run better, and in the long run save you money.
“It’s all about your ROI versus your status quo,” Hall said. “What are you paying right now to effectuate your tasks, versus if you can bring in a robot that can work for $4 an hour.”
Editor’s Note: This information is summarized from the recent Mobile Robotics Week session. You can replay any of the sessions for free here.
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