AI technology powering warehouse safety

Friday, 21 July, 2023 | Supplied by: WesTrac

AI technology powering warehouse safety

Robots operating via artificial intelligence can help to maintain safer operations in distribution warehouses.

Caterpillar dealer WesTrac has incorporated this type of AI into day-to-day operations at its Tomago parts distribution warehouse in New South Wales, following the launch of its AutoStore system.

AutoStore uses robots with memory technology powered by AI to understand where specific parts are stored in the warehouse, before they go and retrieve the orders within five to 10 minutes.

Warehouse Operations Manager Natalia Trewin said the AutoStore system has made the distribution centre operate in a safe and efficient manner by using robots to pick up orders — keeping people out of harm’s way.

“WesTrac’s warehouse operates 24/7 to provide our customers with efficient service, and with the tight labour market, we needed a practical solution to fulfil our customers’ orders as quickly as possible,” she said.

“We decided to implement the AutoStore system, which is set up similar to a Rubik’s cube, with very densely packed plastic tubs sitting on top of each other in a large cube that robots dip down into to pull out needed parts.

“The system uses 24 robots — who are all uniquely identified with colours and names like Wall-E, Bumblebee and Pickeralla — that are capable of picking 500 product lines per hour.

“Not only does our warehouse operate more efficiently, but the design of AutoStore enabled WesTrac to gain an additional 1000 square metres of space.”

Trewin said over time, the AI-powered robotic system will adjust locations of the parts in the warehouse based on live usage data, so the most required parts are at optimal positions.

“Since these robots joined the WesTrac team, we have started looking at potential future growth thanks to their quick turnaround time, which includes increasing customer orders and boosting the scale of our operations.

“We are entering a new and exciting era as AI becomes more advanced, and for WesTrac, using AI to provide better support for our customers was a no-brainer.”

Image caption: WesTrac AutoStore robots.

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