Brightpick today announced Brightpick Autopicker, a robot combining a mobile base and a picking arm for e-commerce and grocery order fulfillment. The Erlanger, Ky.-based company claimed that its system is the only commercially available robot capable of both picking and consolidating orders in warehouse aisles.
Like humans with carts, the autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) can move around a facility, retrieve storage totes from shelving, and pick items from those totes to consolidate orders while still in the aisles, said Brightpick.
“Our patented Brightpick Autopicker is the most advanced fulfillment robot ever created and is a game-changer in the warehouse automation space,” stated Jan Zizka, co-founder and CEO of Brightpick. “Until now, there has never been a robot capable of both picking and consolidating orders on its own as it moves around a warehouse.”
“A few companies have tried to do autonomous mobile picking, but it has been difficult,” he told Robotics 24/7. “We've found a good way to combine our industry-leading picking capabilities with mobile robotics. We're targeting fulfillment, e-commerce, 3PLs [third-party logistics], and, of course, e-grocery.”
Brightpick said its system picks, consolidates, and dispatches orders in fulfillment centers of all sizes. It added that its robots take less than a month to deploy, enable warehouses to reduce their picking labor by 95%, and cut costs for order fulfillment by half.
“Eighty percent of fulfillment is walking, and only 20% is picking, so customers are more interested in our product if we can solve both problems for them,” Zizka said.
The company is part of Photoneo Brightpick Group and said it has more than 300 employees and 5,000 technology installations across the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Its customers include General Motors, Volkswagen, and KUKA.
Brightpick Autopicker designed for e-commerce, grocery
“Brightpick Autopickers can pick and consolidate orders faster than any other fulfillment system,” Zizka said. “They do not need to travel back and forth to pick stations, which means warehouses need fewer robots, resulting in lower cost and complexity.”
“What makes Brightpick Autopicker special is not just that it is an autonomous mobile picking robot, but also that it is part of an end-to-end solution for order fulfillment,” he added. “Brightpick started as a goods-to-person system that used AMRs to take items to centralized stations with robotic picking arms. Combining an AMR with a robotic picking arm always seemed like a natural next step for us.”
Brightpick Autopicker uses proprietary machine vision and artificial intelligence, said the company. Its advanced AI algorithms have been trained on more than 250 million picks to date and use machine learning to improve with each pick.
“To get a high percentage of robot-pickable SKUs, we use a combination of 3D cameras and machine learning,” Zizka explained. “We started with the best robotic eye on the planet—developed by Photoneo—developed our CMOS [complementary metal-oxide semiconductor] image sensor, and added robotic intelligence.”
The company added that Brightpick Autopicker's design enables it to deliver a lower cost per pick than any other system on the market. The robot can reliably pick groceries, cosmetics, personal care products, electronics, pharmaceuticals, apparel, and more with 99.9% accuracy, asserted Brightpick.
“If the robot is unsuccessful at picking an item three times, the software automatically routes it to a human picker, who sees onscreen what the order is and can press a button after manually picking an item,” said Andrey Bakholdin, head of marketing at Brightpick. “It also works with humans in goods-to-person [G2P] stations for picking items that require human dexterity.”
Brightpick chose to develop the full stack of component technologies including control software to address the complexities of navigating without collisions or traffic jams, as well as steering robot arms and improving item-picking output, said Zizka.
“In order to maintain the highest quality in Brightpick Autopicker, we manufacture everything onsite at our own manufacturing plant,” he said. “Another technical reason is that our AMRs need to be super-accurate to maximize density. We haven't seen another robot with accuracy within 1 cm [0.39 in.].”
CEO Jan Zizka with Brightpick Autopicker, which picks and consolidates orders within warehouse aisles. Source: Brightpick
Robots increase existing storage density
Brightpick said Autopicker works with standard shelving and totes for fast deployment and easy integration with any warehouse environment, including existing operations and mezzanines. Companies can increase storage density in their warehouses by 250% using standard, 10-ft.-high shelving, added the company.
Storage density can be enhanced even further using multiple levels, it said. Unlike many automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS), Brightpick Autopicker has no single point of failure and is easy to maintain, said Zizka.
“In G2P systems, the AMRs need to bring the whole shelf or tote to the picker, then return empty to fetch the next rack,” he said. “Cube storage can be inflexible, while our robot can fit in existing aisles. We created this system with micro-fulfillment in mind.”
A typical Brightpick Autopicker fleet in a warehouse consists of 15 to 100 robots. The Brightpick Intuition software orchestrates and optimizes the entire fleet and fulfillment process. During seasonal peaks, operators can simply add more Autopickers to increase throughput, the company said.
Brightpick Autopicker is available in two purchase models: robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) and capex (outright purchase). Several customers in the U.S. and Europe plan to roll it out in their warehouses in 2023, according to the company.
“Our pilots with a 3PL, a large grocer and a smaller grocer, and a pharmacy/e-commerce provider are booked for this year. We can barely keep up with the demand we are seeing,” Zizka said “The system in our video [see below] has already completed 100,000 orders in a grocery environment.”
Brightpick will be showing its technology at ProMat in Chicago next month and at LogiMAT in Stuttgart, Germany, in April.
About the Author
Eugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
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