Automating the Rest of the Factory Floor

Automation has long been used to improve efficiencies within manufacturing to gain competitive advantage.

One of the last forms of automation to make its way onto factory floors is materials handling.

Moving materials has remained predominantly a human task. And because it has been considered one of the lowest valued tasks on the factory floor, materials handling has been ripe for automation.

The Impact of On Shoring & Reshoring

In the past four years, there has been a 250% increase in North American manufacturers returning their operations to American soil.

A change in the industry to this degree has not occurred since the offshore manufacturing trend in the 1990’s. This is occurring due to various factors, including geopolitical changes, supply chain disruptions, and an increased focus on resilience and supply chain sustainability.

Labor Challenges Will Only Get Worse

The impact of onshoring along with workforce aging and retirement notonly impact skilled labor shortages, but also material movement throughout the factory floor.

To address the skills gap and prepare their workforce for the future, manufacturers have been investing in upskilling and reskilling initiatives. Training programs are being implemented to equip existing employees with the necessary skills to handle advanced technologies and new roles.

Upskilling associates from material movement roles to skilled labor roles can help, but this creates an even larger hole in material movement labor.

Autonomous Tuggers Need Help

While autonomous tuggers alleviate the need for a manufacturer to staff tugger drivers and also upskill tugger drivers to handle more complex tasks, there is still labor required to transfer totes to and fromtugger carts and lines or workcells.

This involves either the line or workcell associate to stop working at their station and transfer the kits or totes to replenish materials so that they can continue to work, or hire lower skilled labor to service multiple line positions or workcells. Neither situation is ideal.
Apollo, our general-purpose humanoid robot, can work in conjunction with autonomous tuggers to fully automate the kit or tote-based lineside or workcell delivery or pickup process and eliminate the need for humans to manually transfer totes to lines or workcells from tugger carts.

This enables line or workcell operators to work without interruption and the upskilling of lower skilled labor assigned to servicemultiple line or workcell positions. As Apollo is a general purpose robot,it can handle different tasks is a manufacturing plant and task switch throughout the day.

General Purpose Automation
Changes the Game

While there are a thousand forms of special purpose automation that do one or two tasks, humanoid robots are the only form of automation that will be able to do thousands of tasks and be able to task switch whenever required.

Apollo was designed to work with humans and do the tasks that humans don’t want to do including heavy repetitive lifting, trailer unloading, downstacking, case picking, etc.

Upskill Workers Without Impacting Material Movement

Under a RaaS, Robot as a Service, model short-term rentals can be added for peak season

Task Switch as Needed

Switching tasks is just a point and click away

Brownfield & Greenfield Sites

Improve current operations with no capital requirements or changes to infrastructure