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Robotic Arms Use ML to Reach Deeper into Distribution

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Robots help fill orders at Puma North America's Torrance, CA, warehouse.

Ash Sharma, managing director of market-research firm Interact Analysis, said robotic picking technology “is a niche today in the overall warehouse automation market, but it’s growing rapidly."

Credit: Nimble Robotics

Robots increasingly are being used in warehouses to sort, pack, and prepare orders for delivery as logistics operators faced with labor shortages turn to automation to meet high demand.

Advances in computer vision and software have allowed warehouse robots to take on more tasks previously handled by human workers.

Puma North American Inc. is using robotic arms from Nimble Robotics Inc. to prepare clothing and shoe orders at a California distribution center, with plans to implement robots at another facility in Indiana.

Puma's Helmut Leibbrandt said the robots can work two consecutive shifts and perform with about 99% accuracy, on par with human workers.

Hasan Dandashly at logistics and manufacturing automation provider Dematic Corp. said it makes the greatest financial sense to use robots to pick orders in 24/7 operations with a limited number of products.

Said Dandashly, "I don't think we are on the verge of not having human pickers anytime soon."

From The Wall Street Journal
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