Surgere and robotics company Fetch created the Robotically Optimized and Balanced Inventory (ROBi) platform, a robotic inventory and cycle counting system that can be used in logistics facilities and warehouses.
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David Zingery, head of strategy and growth at Surgere, spoke to Aftermarket Business World about the development of the system.
Q: What are some of the pain points that this robotic cycle counting solution addresses?
A: It really comes down to having a large amount of assets and how frequently they move in and out of facilities. Real-time visibility is almost impossible. A lot of companies throw people at this problem. They have all of these assets that are worth different amounts of money, and they are paying a cost for the people that have to go out and count containers or find parts.
That also introduces more failure points and more human error. There’s now way to tell how accurate those cycle counts are. By being able to see what is in a container with an RFID tag on it, you can correlate that with our system. You have an asset ID, you know what the container is used for, and you have all of the extended information about how that box is going to be used in the facility.
ROBi can sense that RFID tag and see the current location of the asset.
Q: What role does RFID play in the system?
A: This is just one of several types of RFID technology we’ve developed over the years. There are systems you can put on a dock door to catch the asset as it moves in and out of the facility. Inside the facility you can use handheld units to count assets or search for a particular asset.
With ROBi, the system is hands-off. It can sense the RFID tags. There is a lot of power you can wield with this from an autonomous standpoint. It can do a lot of work that you would otherwise assign to employees who are busy with other tasks.
Q: What is the best use case for the robotics system in a warehouse or distribution center?
A: Areas with high turnover where goods come in and out quickly. In a warehouse, this would be good for an area where there is a lot of activity and you want to schedule regular times where the cycle counts can happen, or obtain ongoing visibility of the assets.
A lot of companies care about assets in addition to inventory. They want to know where their parts and tools are, as well as machines. Being able to audit that equipment is a powerful tool.
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