No matter what kind of AMR project you are thinking about for your facility you will need five key data points to just start the process. So before you engage in with an integrator like ELT Systems Group, here are five key data points that you should start thinking about.
#1 Pick and Drop Pairs
This may be obvious, but it does require some thought! Before any project can get off the ground you need to determine where an AMR will be picking up a product and then dropping it off. Does a single pick point have multiple drop points? The more pick and drop combinations the more complicated a system becomes. The more complex the system becomes your potential fleet size may increase. So at the beginning of any project it is best to determine the most important pick and drop locations and then expand the project from there.
Once all pick and drop pairs have been determined we will need to know what the potential throughput of that route may be. At the beginning of the project exactness is not necessary, but this number along with all the other data points will be used to determine the fleet size. There is a huge difference between making a trip from a staging area to the docks 5 times an hour to 20 times an hour. This will also impact any potential traffic considerations a system will require.
#3 Distance Travelled
Be prepared with a CAD drawing of the facility! Data Points #1 through #3 will make up nearly most of the first round of projections on project cost and fleet size. Distance travelled is important because it obviously impacts the time needed to transport materials. The longer the distances the more AMRs will be needed to match throughput metrics. If a CAD file is not available at the onset, then a estimated distance from pick to drop is good enough to kick off budgetary considerations.
#4 Mission Triggers
It may seem like a small matter, but how AMRs will be controlled is very important and will impact the scope of the project. Will the system’s Robot Manager work independently of a WMS? If so, what will input pick up and drop locations? Will there be a control panel at the pick location, like a pack station, that will signal the pickup of a tote? Will it be a photo eye on a conveyor? How will the system identify the drop location if a pick location has multiple drop locations? While not incredibly important at the onset of a project, this question will be part of the discussion from Day 1.
#5 Operational Hours
How long the AMRs need to work for will ultimately determine a few different key elements in the project. The first and most important is your Return on Investment (ROI). The less time these AMRs are working, the longer your ROI. So part of the project consideration is making sure these AMRs have missions available to them as long as the facility is operating. The second key element operational hours are used for is energy solutions. Hours of operation will determine how many chargers, batteries and charging missions will be needed for each AMR and that may impact the size of the fleet.
Every one of these five data points will be needed to give a client a rough order of magnitude proposal. If you are considering an AMR/automated solution to your material handling needs, then start thinking about these five key elements and you’ll be way ahead of the game when the first phase of the project begins. If you have any questions or are interested in starting an AMR project contact ELT Systems Group and we will be more than happy to assist gather data to answer all the questions above.