Development phase myth: “You should start with one mobile robot”
The notion of starting with a single mobile robot and then building upwards as the scope increases is misguided. An AMR project never begins just with a single robot. The first element of such a project should always be to install the fleet management system, which is where most of the integration work will take place.
The challenges of starting your AMR implementation with a single robot has to do with the facility infrastructure design. In our 30 years of project experience, we’ve seen that most AMR project costs lie in the integration stage. Robots should be connected directly to your ERP or MWS systems that manage AMR job allocation, battery charging, route planning, and so on.
A single, manually operated robot doesn’t show a fleet’s full potential in terms of flexibility or traceability. Furthermore, a fleet architecture solidifies process changes. Most of our customers who replace manual cart or pallet operators with AMRs never go back to manual process. Once the robots are in place, customer see many benefits to scale up for more automation.
It’s extremely important to have the correct architecture installed upfront, since robots with different payloads are optimized for different types of tasks within your facility. In addition, AMRs with the same payload can use platform tops that are variably engineered to perform other tasks should the need arise.
Consider the different material flows in your facility, since each of these will ideally be automated by a mobile robot. Even if you’re only planning to use a single robot at the beginning, you should always have the fleet management system in place first, since that will make it easy and inexpensive to add more robots later.