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Staples.com's Robotic Warehouses

If you're interested in state-of-the-art warehouse pick-and-pack systems, check out the article about Staples.com in this month's Fast Company. The picture in this post shows orange Staple-bots sliding under merchandise racks, pushing up, and then driving the merchandise back to humans for pick and pack:
When product orders come in, the computer tells the robots where to find racks with the appropriate items; the robots, following a network of evenly spaced bar-code stickers spread across the floor, locate the racks, slide beneath them, and lift them in the air. The robots then carry them to picking stations and wait patiently as humans pull the correct products and place them in boxes. When orders are filled, the robots neatly park the racks back among the rest. The central computer, which calculates order volumes in real time, instructs them to leave the racks that hold the most frequently ordered products in easily accessible spaces.
The robots have generated significant productivity increases:
Before the robots arrived in January 2006 (peak season), the facility processed 13,000 orders daily. This past January, with minimal additional staff, the robots facilitated 8,000 of Chambersburg's 18,000 daily orders. Overall, average daily output is up 60%. The robots now run 50% of the Chambersburg facility, up from 10% when they first arrived on the scene.
watch the FastCompany video: Staples robots video
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