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Automating Warehouse and Fulfillment Centers with Cobots and 3D Vision

Posted on
Jul 08, 2024
Bryan Dugan
Bryan Dugan
Web Manager , FANUC America
Crx warehousing cobot demo cell

FANUC’s newest autonomous order fulfillment, bin transfer, and shelving system helps supply chain businesses overcome the labor shortage.

At ProMat 2023 in Chicago this past March, robots dominated the show floor and took shape in many different forms, from mobile to articulated arms to even bi-pedals. However, two clear trends emerged from the supply chain solutions on display: First, the focus is on autonomous operations. Second, new technology is being designed for operations with smaller footprints.

These two trends also track with feedback from FANUC customers, who are adding automation to overcome the labor shortage, but might not necessarily have the space for bigger integrated systems.

One of FANUC’s debut demonstrations that drew crowds at ProMat was an automated order fulfillment, bin transfer, and shelving system. Using the Tablet TP, a worker can select pick orders from a variety of consumer items. One of two CRX-10iA cobots using an iRVision 3DV/200 vision sensor mounted on its arm scans QR codes on a shelf and the items to confirm the correct products are being picked and transferred to a bin on a table. A CRX-20iA/L cobot, also using the iRVision® sensor, locates a full bin and places it on a LOCUS autonomous mobile robot (AMR). An empty bin on the AMR is located and placed on the table by the cobot.

Next, the AMR moves from the order fulfillment area to the shelving side where the CRX-20iA/L picks an empty bin, places it on the AMR and places the full bin on a table. The CRX-20iA/L can pick consumer items of varying sizes and shapes that weigh up to 20kg. A second CRX-10iA with a fixed iRVision 3DV/600 vision sensor locates and picks products from the full bin, scans each according to its RFID tag and places it back on the correct shelf.

The system is an example of what can be achieved when cobots, AMRs and vision sensors work together, resulting in a highly flexible autonomous solution that can be easily scaled up or down.

Since collaborative robots are used, the system does not require protective fencing, which makes the solution perfect for smaller spaces. If people approach the moving cobots, safety features sense the human presence and stop in place. Also, FANUC’s cobots feature intuitive hand guidance and easy-to-use Tablet TP programming, which helps first-time automation adapters.

Traditionally, cobots have been thought to just enhance productivity in warehouses since fulfillment tasks are not repetitive enough to be autonomous. However, the new system by FANUC blows that perception apart and makes automation in the fulfillment center an absolutely viable option for many operations of all sizes.

Learn more about FANUC’s solutions for Warehouse Industrial Applications.

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