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Omron mobile robots ramp up efficiency in African warehouse, distribution sector

With supply-chain management and logistics increasingly under the spotlight in Africa due to remote locations and time-consuming transportation, warehouses are turning increasingly to industrial mobile robot solutions to improve their efficiency and turnaround times.

This has resulted in Omron introducing its first industrial mobile robot product line, the LD platform, on 20 January 2017. “The fact that this latest technology is now available to the broader African market bears testament as to how highly we regard the opportunities presented by the continent to accelerate its uptake of innovation,” Omron Field Application Engineer Evert Janse van Vuuren comments.

Omron mobile robots provide a new level of efficiency and cost-savings when it comes to moving goods around large facilities. This unique family of mobile robots is developed for rapid and reliable materials transport on a 24/7 basis.

Ideal for conveying goods throughout warehouses, distribution centres, and manufacturing facilities, the LD mobile robot platform has a payload capacity of up to 130 kg, depending on the model. Compared to traditional Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), Omron mobile robots can self-navigate entirely based on the natural features of the facility.


Omron mobile robots provide a new level of efficiency and cost-savings when it comes to moving goods around large facilities

No costly and time-consuming infrastructure modifications are necessary, which means no need for floor magnets, tapes or laser beacons, all typically associated with classic AGV deployment.

“The simpler the technology is to get up-and-running, the sooner the end user can start to reap the benefits. This is of particular importance in Africa, where skill levels in terms of automation and robotics are scarce,” Janse van Vuuren highlights.

Flexible factory layouts are now also possible, taking into account space and size constraints in industrial areas. “This is now possible as delivery points can be modified for the mobile robots. Omron mobile robots also complement traditional automation, such as conveyors, and provide traceable movement of goods,” Janse van Vuuren adds.

This means that the latest Omron technology can integrate seamlessly with the older systems that are quite prevalent in Africa, where technological development lags mature markets like Europe and the US by a significant margin.

Equipped with patented Acuity technology, Omron mobile robots have a robust self-navigation system, even where there’s constant movement of people, pallets, carts and forklifts, and shelves being emptied and restocked.

On-board intelligence allows them to not only avoid obstacles, but also to choose the best path in order to complete a task. This ‘smart’ movement also makes them safe to operate alongside people.

A typical fleet can comprise up to 100 vehicles, which can now be managed centrally by fleet-manager software, who can interact with the factory or warehouse management software such as MES (Manufacturing Execution Systems) or WMS (Warehouse Management Systems).

In addition, the LD Cart Transporter is an automated materials-handling solution. It includes an automatic engagement device, and is able to adjust its approach path to engage the cart automatically. This makes it an ideal solution to provide line-side replenishment for assembly line or for e-commerce order fulfilment in any distribution centre in Africa.

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