What is warehouse robotics?

Warehouse robotics is the use of robots to move and store goods within warehouse environments. The aim of such robotics systems is to improve productivity and efficiency, reduce error rates, and improve reliability compared to manual methods currently used in warehouse environments. A typical warehouse system includes mobile robots or automated guided vehicles that navigate from item storage locations to item picker stations. Workers pick items as needed and then return them to storage locations or shipping containers as required. Robots may be programmed to operate independently of human intervention or under remote control by humans via wireless communications networks. Keep reading to learn more about warehouse robotics.

What is Warehouse Robotics used for?

The following are some of the ways in which robots can be used in warehouses. These include:

Picking and place

When a robot picks an object, it may either carry it to a different location or pass it on to another robot that will transport the object. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) are common within warehouses as they can move items from one side of the warehouse to the other. Robots can also be helpful for tasks such as emptying trash bins, sweeping floors, and checking inventory levels. For instance, when an AGV is transporting objects from one point to another in a warehouse, it could get stuck if something is blocking its path. In this situation, the AGV would send out an alarm and wait for instructions before proceeding. However, if a human operator could see what was obstructing the path and remove it quickly, then the AGV would continue with its task.

Sorting robots

This type of robot works by transferring items from their current container into a new container based on specific criteria. For example, a sorting robot might take clothes from a washing machine and put them into dryers according to size or fabric type. When it comes to sorting robots, there are two types that people should know about: collision-free and contact-collision. Collision-free means that the robot's motion does not come into contact with any obstacles. Contact-collision means that even though the motion does come into contact with an obstacle, this doesn't stop the motion from happening. It's usually up to the person using the system to specify whether they want a collision-free or contact-collision type of robot.

Packaging robots

These robots are used to pack products in boxes. They can be particularly useful if a large number of products need to be packaged, as it would save time and money. There are three main categories of automated packing robots: semiautomatic, automatic, and closed loop. Semiautomatic systems require manual input but only need minimal supervision once set up. Automatic systems require manual input but only need minimal supervision throughout the process. Closed loop systems are semi-automated and require little supervision while running through the entire process. Each category has pros and cons. Semi-automatic systems tend to be easier for companies to implement than fully automated systems, so many opt for these due to budget constraints.

Transportation robots

A transportation robot is similar to an AGV as it carries items from one point to another. However, there are a few key differences between them. One difference is that transportation robots are self-powered, meaning they don't rely on an external power source to move. Another difference is that while AGVs typically travel along fixed routes and paths, transportation robots can easily change directions whenever necessary. For instance, autonomous mobile robots, known as AMRs, are specifically designed to avoid collisions. These machines use lasers, sonar, cameras, and radar to map their environment. This allows them to avoid running into anything that gets in their way.

Palletizing robots

These machines are used to pick up items from a storage area and put them onto pallets so they can be easier moved by forklifts. Palletizing robots can save companies a considerable amount of time, money, and energy. Instead of relying on workers to manually lift and stack items onto a pallet, the robots can do it for them. Not only are they more efficient, but they can be cheaper too. The average price of a palletizing robot is $3,500 per unit. However, paying a worker for an hour of work can cost as much as $12,000. So, depending on how often your company moves things around and how fast you need the task done, it may be worth investing in some robotic assistance.

Types of warehouse robots

There are various types of robots used in warehouses that help with various tasks, such as moving items from one spot to another, picking and packing orders, and more. The type of robot an individual uses will depend on their specific needs. They include:

Autonomous mobile robot (AMR)

This robot can be programmed to move around the warehouse without any human intervention. It has a laser scanner that detects when it gets close enough to an object, such as a pallet or shelf unit, and then directs its movements accordingly. For instance, an autonomous mobile robot may navigate across the floor to find where items have been stored before gathering them and returning them to their correct place. Another example would be if the AMR was instructed to pick up every item from a certain location and put it in another location. One of the advantages of using this type of robot is that they work 24 hours a day and do not need breaks.

Automated guided vehicle (AGV)

The robot is designed to transport items from one location to another. It works alongside a conveyor belt, taking items on and off as required. Unlike an autonomous mobile robot, which can be directed by a human operator at any time, AGVs only operate when told to do so by the system's programmer. However, due to technological advancements and artificial intelligence, these robots can now plan routes ahead of time based on the instructions given. In other words, they can decide what to take and what to leave behind all by them.

Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS)

As the name suggests, an AS/RS system can automatically store and retrieve items from a designated storage location. This robot operates similarly to a grocery store self-checkout machine and can return items to the storage area after being picked up. AS/RS robots are often found in car manufacturing plants because there is limited space for storing large volumes of materials. AS/RS robots allow products to be brought closer to the production line, rather than workers having to walk miles between different factory sections.

Collaborative robots (CO-BOTS)

Collaborative robots, also known as CO-BOTS, can carry out simple tasks such as pushing buttons or pulling levers. Typically, these robots are paired with humans who guide them through their tasks. A good example is when an employee needs to open a new box containing bolts but does not want to ruin the contents by cutting into it. The CO-BOT could push the lever while the worker pushes it down on the lid of the box. After all the bolts were removed, the CO-BOT could hold the lid down while the human turns it upside down and removes the lid completely. This ensures that nothing falls onto the floor during the opening process.

Articulated robotic arms

These robots are programmed to perform precise movements, such as those carried out by human arms and hands. This makes them ideal for repetitive tasks that cannot be done manually, such as picking objects off a conveyor belt and placing them into boxes or on shelves. This robot is excellent for tasks that require a delicate touch, such as taking items from a rack and transferring them to a cart. It is also very easy to teach the robot how to complete a task since it can be controlled by hand. Furthermore, articulated robots are much more flexible and easier to use than CO-BOTS. This means they can be used for a wider range of tasks, such as loading and unloading containers.

Goods-to-Person system (G2P)

G2P systems can deliver items to workers while they are on their way to their destination. It can take various forms, such as a conveyor belt following workers walking around an area. Items placed on the belt can then be delivered to workers at the right moment, making this type of system particularly useful in warehouses where long distances must be covered. G2P robots can be installed on a mezzanine, on the ground and can be operated manually by a person.

Humanoid robots (HL-BOTS)

HL-BOTS can work alongside a team of humans and, like CO-BOTS, are most commonly found in factories. They are usually employed to repeat tasks that involve heavy lifting and dangerous situations. For instance, HL-BOTS may be given the job of carrying goods across a busy street to transport them to another facility. Because HL-BOTS have been designed specifically to resemble humans, people are less likely to feel threatened by their presence.

Are warehouse robots right for your company?

Yes, the benefits of using warehouse robots are undeniable because they offer a flexible solution for warehousing automation and can be customized to your specific needs. Some of the benefits of using warehouse robots include the following:

Lower cost of labor

Warehouse robots cost between $5-10k less than an average human salary; this means that at 50% utilization, the payback period on a $25k robot would be only 10 months. Warehouse robots also have a longer life expectancy than humans, with rates of up to 15 years or more in some cases. They don't get tired, and you don't need to worry about scheduling vacations. The robots work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year. You never need to hire temps or workers from other countries.

Safety and Compliance

When it comes to safety, there's no question that robots are far safer than humans. In decades, there has not been a single injury caused by any form of an industrial robot. They're better at performing repetitive tasks as well. Plus, they're easily programmable and come with various sensors for finding their way around obstacles.

Increased productivity and accuracy

When it comes to efficiency, nothing beats a robot. Robots don't need to take breaks; if they do, it won't affect production, wait for materials, or travel long distances to perform a task. They're equipped with tools and will continue working until the job is done. , they don't make mistakes. One survey found that 96% of errors were due to human error, and 4% were due to machines malfunctioning. Another survey found that 90% of complaints were due to humans, and only 10% were due to equipment malfunctions.

Improved working conditions

They help improve working conditions because employees are not stuck doing one task every day, which causes them to get bored and want to look for other jobs. With warehouse robots, employees can switch off different tasks, so they aren't always doing the same thing all day. It creates a healthier environment where employees are motivated to do their best because they feel appreciated and challenged.

There is consistency

When it comes to consistency, there's no question that robots are much better at consistently doing a specific task every single time. The same cannot be said for humans. Humans are inconsistent when it comes to completing tasks because they are not programmed like a robot. Humans also need breaks, require rest periods, and have varying fatigue levels depending on how hard the task is. On top of this, people can make mistakes, whereas robots don't. A company might think introducing warehouse robots into their operation might be too expensive, but the benefits outweigh the costs.

They free up employees to do other tasks

Warehouse robots are great because they allow employees to focus on other tasks besides just loading and unloading containers. In many warehouses, this could mean looking after important inventory such as electronics or retail goods. In other warehouses, it could mean packing items in boxes and shipping them out to customers.


In essence, warehouse robots are revolutionizing the way that goods are shipped and handled. They've improved efficiency, reduced costs, and provided better inventory control. With so many benefits to choose, it's no wonder why companies are investing in this technology at such a rapid pace. The investment makes more sense when you consider how much time, money, and effort goes into creating an effective warehouse robot system. Therefore, as the number of warehouses worldwide with implemented systems continues to grow, so do people discover how these systems can change their lives for the better. As demand increases, so will innovation, leading to new ways of implementing automation across different industries.