Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Fetch provides instant warehouse automation

Steve Rogerson
March 10, 2020

Fetch Robotics has launched Workflow Builder to provide instant warehouse automation. The drag-and-drop automation toolkit enables deployment in days, iteration to perfect workflows and integration if required.
The toolkit lets users implement flexible automation in existing manufacturing, distribution and fulfilment facilities without the time, expense and inflexibility of fixed automation or traditional autonomous mobile robots (AMRs).
Based on Blockly, the language used to teach non-programmers to code, Workflow Builder provides a visual and intuitive tool that can be used to deploy flexible automation in days, iterate to perfect workflows, change workflows as needs evolve, and later integrate into WMSs (warehouse management systems), WESs (warehouse execution systems) or fixed automation, and do all of this in-house without having to rely on third-party resources.
Workflow Builder was created as a simple to use, on-demand alternative to fixed warehouse automation or traditional AMR. Fixed automation requires the expense and time of a third party for design, installation and maintenance. Fixed automation is also difficult and costly to modify, making it challenging for warehouse managers to adapt to changing business needs or workflows.
Traditional AMR often requires facilities to be modified, floors to be labelled with QR codes, and integration with a WMS is immediately required as part of the implementation. While these can be impactful, they are expensive and time consuming to deploy, and often lead to workflows that can't be updated or changed without extensive outside support.
Workflow Builder removes these pain points by allowing users to design, implement and redesign their own custom automation workflows using Fetch's AMRs, removing the need for any third-party integration work and saving time and cost. With an easy-to-use automation development environment that requires no coding, Workflow Builder provides a platform that enables them to develop and deploy their own automation in days, and continue to iterate on workflows as business needs change or are added.
When paired with Fetch's RaaS (robots-as-a-service) cloud-based business model, Workflow Builder allows companies to see RoI almost immediately, modify workflows until perfect and then complete the integration work later if desired.
"Our customers have long desired to get the richness of integration without the onerous requirement of actually having to do the integration," said Melonee Wise, CEO at Fetch Robotics. "We are excited to introduce Workflow Builder and empower our customers to quickly deploy automation in their facilities and iterate the workflows until perfect. Workflow Builder allows even the most risk-averse organisations to feel confident with their investment in money and time."
Although Workflow Builder is used for device, WMS and WES integration, it is not dependent on the use of a WMS or WES, and does not require an integrator, giving the user full control over their facility in the short- and long-term. It can be deployed with WMS-related workflows such as picking and putaway, or workflows completely outside the WMS such as pack station replenishment, empty tote return or recycling removal.
Additionally, Workflow Builder partner blocks enable the use of the same drag-and-drop automation development with devices such as barcode scanners, RFID detection devices, mobile printers and network buttons so that there is no custom coding required to support these types of devices. Since Fetch provides over-the-air updates to AMRs, partner blocks can be added and used right away without anyone having to visit the user's facility.
"Workflow Builder fundamentally changes the way we can manage our warehouse automation," said Lee Weisenberger, managing director of IT at Universal Logistics. "With Workflow Builder, all we have to do is drive a robot around the facility to map it, lay out workflows, drag and drop device triggers into workflows, and then deploy the AMRs. We can easily change workflows or add new workflows on our own. Workflow Builder puts the power and control back in the hands of the customers instead of being held hostage by months and millions of dollars of outside integration work."
Fetch Robotics is an intralogistics automation company headquartered in Silicon Valley. By combining autonomous mobile robotics with the power of the cloud, the Fetch cloud robotics platform provides on-demand automation for material handling and inventory management, with the power to find, track and move almost anything in any facility.