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Pressure from accelerating e-commerce, labor shortages, and international competition is forcing materials handling operations to turn to robotics. Fortunately, a new generation of warehouse automation technology is enabling greater efficiency, throughput, and connectivity to enterprise systems.

In this webcast, Robotics Business Review chatted with Jeff Hedges, president of warehouse automation at OPEX Corp., about the challenges facing the supply chain industry.

OPEX's Jeff Hedges

OPEX’s Jeff Hedges will describe why supply chains need more and better automation.

He described how labor-intensive piece picking is unable to keep up with the demand for small-batch orders and why the warehouse industry is actually on the cutting edge of robotics adoption and use.

Because of this market opportunity, both traditional materials handling providers and technology “upstarts” are looking to serve this demand with robots, according to Hedges. Improved machine vision, cloud computing, and the emerging Industrial Internet of Things are also enabling technologies.

While the common perception is that robots threaten jobs, they can augment existing capabilities, working alongside people. Hedges also explained how mobile robots and manipulation systems can save time and money.

OPEX exemplifies new warehouse automation

In addition, Hedges described how OPEX’s Perfect Pick and Sure Sort can help simplify supply chains and provide scalability for operations. For instance, Sure Sort can sort up to 2,400 items per hour into individual bins.

Perfect Pick has a limited footprint and includes OPEX’s iBOT delivery vehicles, and the Perfect Pick HD offers even greater storage and payload capacity.

These robots can be helpful in operations besides warehouses, including in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and custom box subscriptions. Finally, Hedges touched on other rapidly evolving ways in which robotics and drones could help supply chains.

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