Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

AI-based warehouse robot can lug up to 1600kg

Steve Rogerson
March 13, 2018



Singapore-based robotics and supply chain automation company GreyOrange unveiled at this week’s LogiMat in Germany its expanded range of Butler robots capable of managing payloads from 100 to 1600kg.
 
The goods-to-person Butler system lets warehouses run high-speed operations by automating inventory storage (putaway) and order fulfilment. It has been deployed in distribution centres in Japan, Hong Kong, India, Europe and the Americas for industries such as 3PL, ecommerce and retail.
 
The robotics systems handle a variety of items including apparel, home furnishing and personal care, reducing cost per shipment and enhancing productivity of warehouse operations by more than four times, claims the company.
 
The latest Butler XL handles payloads of up to 1600kg. Its versatility suits the handling of bulk inventory in factory warehouses, omni-channel fulfilment centres and large distribution hubs. A wide range of loads from raw materials to finished goods, including automotive components, manufacturing material and liquids, can be moved on and put or picked from pallets, drums, sacks, crates and cases.
 
"We are delighted to add the Butler XL to the growing Butler family,” said Sid Chatterjee, vice president at GreyOrange. “The entire Butler range operates with minimal supervision using our software platform, GreyMatter, developed by GreyOrange to revolutionise warehouse operations by connecting people, process and technology more efficiently using artificial intelligence. In real time, it integrates and delivers all of the functionality, intelligence and services required for optimum warehouse operations."
 
At every step of the order process, from receiving to storage, picking to fulfilment, the orders are managed by the GreyMatter software platform. One of the key advantages of the family is its ability to manage multi-floor operations with the use of an elevator. This provides flexibility in handling material and inventory on multiple floors, and optimises space utilisation vertically in a warehouse.
 
Large and heavy pallets or slow moving inventory may be stored on one floor, while fast moving goods may be stored on another level. GreyMatter manages the Butlers across floors. Such auto-fulfilment improves order-to-dispatch time, with enhanced inventory traceability, increased fulfilment accuracy and reduced order returns.
 
Putaway and picking processes often take up the majority of resources of warehouse staff, between 50 and 70%. Using the Butler system can lead to faster stock availability, improving efficiency multifold and shortening delivery times from days to hours.
 
The system can be added to existing operations as it requires few changes to the infrastructure. The range shares a similar footprint and can navigate within the same width of aisles. This versatility makes it easy to configure the Butlers to work in different parts of a warehouse for end-to-end autonomous fulfilment.
 
Several units of the new Butler XL will be integrated in sites by mid-year.
 
The Butler system conforms to applicable international safety and regulatory standards such as CE Marking, Ansi and ITSDF B56.5 (USA), JIS D6802 (Japan), and RoHS emergency response to fire and earthquake.
 
The chemistry of lithium-ion batteries used in the Butler XL – similar to those of high-end electric vehicles – provides a continuous and long runtime on a single charge to complete a 24-hour shift, with a fast charge when necessary. Based on the workload and schedule during a shift, its artificial intelligence assigns robots for opportunity charging to help the system deliver the optimum uptime.
 
Founded in 2011, GreyOrange is headquartered in Singapore with offices in India, Hong Kong, Japan, Germany and UAE, and a research and development centre in Gurgaon, India.