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04 Jan 2021

Automation providers vs Robotic Resellers – What supplementary technology do you offer?

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The robots might be the stars of the warehouse automation show, but the supporting cast are vital too.

 

Flexible automation is an ensemble performance, not just in the sense of software integration, but other hardware sections also. Industry 4.0 as a whole is about the ways that distinct yet interconnected systems work together to create a more efficient operation. Being the centrepiece of the operation, the robots do a lot of important work, but far from all of it.

Supplementary technology means the other equipment that you will need to make an automated warehouse run to schedule. Everything from the racks that the robots will be carrying, to equipment to assist pickers at pick stations, to safety gear to keep robots and staff securely separated.

When you’re looking for a warehouse robotics supplier, you need to be looking for the full package. You need someone who doesn’t just have reliable robots and stable software. You want someone who can offer the best technology for every aspect of the process. Technology that can ensure your company is moving to the very front of the pack. That’s why you need to ask the question:

 

“What supplementary technology do you offer?”

Depending on whether you are dealing with just a robotic reseller or a real automation provider, you’ll get very different answers to that question. The following framework will help differentiate the two.

 

Robotic resellers

Both robotic resellers and automation providers may be selling robots that they themselves didn’t design or develop. However robotic resellers need only be good at selling, their offerings in the range of supplementary technology will be noticeably limited. Specifically, limited to what the robotics company they bought from has to offer. Which is very often just robots.

Robotic resellers need not be experts in the field of warehouse operations in general. They won’t necessarily be able to adjust tailor, or otherwise customise the surrounding equipment. They may even expect you as a client to provide your own storage racks, rebuilt with the size and carrying capacity of the robots in mind.

It is also probable that robotic resellers won’t provide any scanning or picking related equipment. Not being engineering specialists or warehouse experts, they will defer to your judgement about what you need to make that side of your system work best. Your business will be left with robots, and a set of guidelines about how best to build your wider operation around them.

 

Automation providers

Automation providers are there to go beyond merely providing robots. They are there to provide a solution. That means hardware, software, support, training, and everything and anything else you might need to get the most out of industry 4.0. When you ask an automation provider about the solutions they provide, the robots will be the centrepiece, but there is plenty more on offer.

The solution that automation providers offer naturally comes with tailored storage options. An automation provider will ask about the specific products and volumes you’re going to be dealing with, and design racks that fit the robots with you in mind. Whether you’re dealing with giant pallets for construction materials, hanging rails for apparel items of every size, or dozens of tiny boxes for machine parts or pharmaceutical supplies, an automation provider will work to put together a storage solution that suits your needs.

The expertise that automation providers have on hand to keep your robots up and running is often also put to good use developing new and improved supporting equipment. This ranges from things like mobile pick walls for the manned portion of your warehouse solution to computerised pick lights that can target and highlight the specific products your pickers need to be moving without complex and more error-prone procedures like voice picking or paper lists.

Automation providers understand that you need the robots for a specific task, be that sales logistics, manufacturing processes, storage organisation, or any combination thereof. They work to build a solution to that task, specifically. They don’t just supply you another tool to assist you along the way.

 

Exemplary equipment

Discover what the research and development teams at OW Robotics can build and design for your warehouse solution. Learn why the robots are only the beginning when it comes to the technology we have on offer. Take a tour of our warehouse automation demonstration centre, and learn how your business can reap the benefits of a full and complete flexible automation solution.

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