How Shelf-Moving Robots Increase Efficiency in Food and Beverage Distribution

by Prime Robotics
April 26, 2024
shelf moving robot in food and beverage warehouse

Ever wonder how robotics can be beneficial in the food and beverage distribution space? We break it down here.

The food and beverage industry is increasingly adopting shelf-moving autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to move goods through their warehouses and distribution centers. Automated shelf-moving robots store, transport, and retrieve products with little to no reliance on human labor. This technological advancement is significantly improving the distribution process. 

A Look into Food and Beverage Distribution

Traditionally, food and beverage distribution relied heavily on manual labor. From picking and packing to inventory management, warehouse operations have always needed human workers to complete critical processes. Automated shelf-moving robots are now able to handle repetitive tasks that human workers used to do. 

The introduction of this technology is solving many of the food and beverage industry’s long-standing challenges. With human labor, there is a higher risk of errors, work-related injuries, and slower order processing times. Humans can only do so much and move so fast. Labor shortages and challenges are often seen within this sector, especially during peak seasons. 

Automated robots fill in these gaps and make the distribution process more efficient. They are built with advanced sensors and navigation technology to help them move around and transport goods through warehouses and distribution centers easily and accurately. Plus, they can operate 24/7, exponentially speeding up order processing. 

Key Benefits of Automated Shelf-Moving Robots in Distribution

  1. Greater Efficiency

The biggest benefit organizations see when implementing automated systems is greater efficiency. Because AMRs streamline warehouse operations, order processing becomes faster than ever. Whether retrieving, transporting, or delivering goods, robots complete tasks faster than their human counterparts. 

Faster order processing also results in greater customer satisfaction. If customers can rely on your business to deliver their items quickly and safely, they will return to order again, building customer loyalty. 

  1. Improved Accuracy

Automation reduces the risk of errors in picking, packing, and inventory management. Automated shelf-moving robots are programmed to follow exact instructions so orders are fulfilled more accurately. 

This increased accuracy also results in greater customer satisfaction. Fewer packing errors means fewer customer frustrations. This consistency helps build customer loyalty over time. 

  1. Increased Safety

Manual labor, such as heavy lifting of cases and eaches, is hard on human workers’ bodies and often leads to injuries. With robots, however, the risk of work-related injuries decreases. Since many of the dangerous or repetitive tasks in the warehouse are now handled by an automated system, humans no longer have to risk their safety to get the job done. This ultimately creates a safer work environment for warehouse employees. 

  1. Scalability and Adaptability

Another advantage of automated shelf-moving robots is their ability to scale operations up or down depending on demand. This is particularly helpful during busy seasons, such as the holidays, when distribution centers would typically need more workers. Warehouses may adjust the system and reallocate robots to handle packing and transporting a higher volume of goods.

The food and beverage industry particularly benefits from this capability since certain products tend to be more popular during certain seasons. A factory that makes candy canes, for example, may need to scale down during the summer, but it will need to scale up during the winter.

  1. Cost Savings

Implementing shelf-moving robots also leads to cost savings. While these systems tend to be an expensive investment up front, they reduce operational costs long-term., From lowering labor costs to increasing picking, packing, and order fulfillment rates, shelf-moving AMRs save organizations a significant amount of money. 

Plus, increased safety and accuracy means less spending annually on workplace injuries, insurance claims, and product returns and refunds. 

Challenges and Considerations

Though there are many benefits to using automated shelf-moving robots, there are also challenges warehouse operators should consider.  Since the initial investment can be costly, organizations need to prepare a realistic and detailed budget for the system. 

Warehouses or distribution centers with existing automation technology will need to carefully integrate it with the new system. Proper planning and integration are essential, as an automated system will deliver underwhelming results if it doesn’t work with your existing tools and processes.

Finally, the implementation of any new system requires training and education for staff.  Employees need to be trained on how to work efficiently alongside these robots, and your business may need to hire new IT experts to manage and maintain the system. Partnering with an experienced automation provider who will understand your needs and processes is an important first step to a successfully integrated automation system. 

The Future of Automated Shelf-Moving Robots

The adoption of automated systems like shelf-moving robots is only going to increase in the future, as distribution centers rely on technology to make operations safer and more efficient. 

With technology always evolving, future automated shelf-moving robots will likely be developed with advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. These innovative solutions may be able to predict stock levels, automatically reorder products, and even perform quality checks. With more of these processes streamlined, operations will become simpler and more productive.

Final Thoughts

The widespread use of automated shelf-moving robots in the food and beverage industry is making operations safer and more reliable. From addressing labor shortages to speeding up delivery times, these robots are solving many complex issues within distribution. 

Organizations that embrace these automation technologies are staying ahead of the competition and achieving more profitable operations.

Interested in exploring shelf-moving robots for your warehouse operation? Contact us to get started on your automation journey.

Prime Robotics