Synchronize people and AMRs

Jennifer Maloney
March 4, 2021

Unite People and Robots Across Your Entire Pick, Pack and Ship Operations 

Double or Triple Order Fulfillment Productivity with Numina’s “Direct Me” Solution

The Numina Group is the first to market with “Direct Me,” an innovative warehouse software application that fully synchronizes people and autonomous mobile robots (AMR)s for more efficient picking, packing and shipping. This warehouse AMR strategy differs from previous AMR application approaches and promises a much faster ROI.

Numina Group created the solution by extending the capabilities of its RDS Pick-by-Voice Suite to move operators and AMRs as a united pick-and-pack order fulfillment process. This process breakthrough is a giant step forward for the material handling industry – putting AMRs within reach of small to mid-size operations.

The new solution has enabled one Numina client to triple productivity across its entire distribution operation.

“Direct Me” Fulfillment

Numina Group’s “Direct Me” approach unites people and robot work tasks across the entire pick, pack, and ship order fulfillment operation.

A while back, Bob Trebilcock, editor of Modern Materials Handling, coined the following definitions of AMRs by their use in warehouse automation into three categories:

“Follow Me” Approach: The robot, an automated cart, acts like a tugger pulling other carts behind It follows the picker who controls the robot movement with an RFID tag or other locator device.

“Swarm Me” Approach: The robot, integrated with the warehouse software, waits for nearby pickers to interact with

“Holy Grail” Approach: The robot includes piece-picking capabilities and travels autonomously to a pick location and performs the picking. 

The Holy Grail approach does not involve humans but has proven to be problematic when considering all the processes associated with picking such as slotting, replenishment, open cases and trash removal. 

Synchroizing People with Robots with Numina’s “Direct Me” Fulfillment Solution

Numina’s “Direct Me” approach manages both the AMRs and the pickers’ movements and picking duties as a single application. This is a major innovation in warehouse execution software solutions. 

It seamlessly integrates order release, order and batch cart cubing and real-time pick-by-voice, with the movement of pickers and AMRs from order start, pick-up, and zone transport of large capacity 28 order batch pick carts throughout the warehouse’s multiple pick zones.

Built-in Order Accuracy and Picking Speed

Numina’s RDS™ WES-WCS real-time warehouse execution and control software manages both the robots, and the pick-by-voice to direct the pickers’ work tasks and movements.  

Picking Productivity Increases to 250 Lines/Person, 50% Less Wasted Walk Time

By optimizing the order release and all work tasks, picking productivity has exceeded 250 lines per person by reducing over 50% of wasted walk time and manual cart pushing across the pick and pack processes.  

Six Intelligent AMRs Do the Work of 25 “Meet Me” Robots

The RDS WES-WCS software and use of the large batch carts allowed a small fleet of six intelligent robots to perform the equivalent work of a fleet of 25 or more “Meet Me” type robots.

To further optimize picking, RDS WES-WCS looks for the closest available pick cart and robot to assign and dispatch for a group of prioritized orders, and directs the transport of the batch cart throughout the pick zones. 

At the same time, RDS WES-WCS looks for the closest available picker and directs the picker using voice commands to each pick location. Voice-directed picking technology directs by voice with hands-free barcode scanning to validate locations and items picking.

Pick carts visit each required zone and the same picker movement optimization is repeated until pick completion. Carts are then assigned and delivered to the dual cart pack station staging locations. 

40% Faster Packing

Packing has accelerated by 40% through “keep the open pack station full” logic. Additionally, automated conveyor at the exit to packing includes in-line order weight-dim audit, and print and apply labeling to automate manifesting, and sorting to the carrier doors.

Results – Doubled Picking Rates

Numina RDS WES-WCS software, coupled with a design innovation using large order capacity batch picking carts autonomously driven by AMRs, more than doubled the customers picking rates, and increased robot utilization so a fleet of 6 robots performs the work of 25 or more small capacity AMRs. 

The solution drove pick rates over 250 lines per hour, and a 40% increase in order packing efficiency by uniting robots and people across the entire order fulfillment operation.