EP 493 Automation-Mobility-in-the-Warehouse

Episode 493: Automation & Mobility at Momentum 2024 with Agility Robotics & Manhattan Associates

In this engaging session from Momentum 2024, I was joined by a panel consisting of Adam Kline and Matt Dermody from Manhattan Associates and Pete Allen from Agility Robotics to discuss the current state of automation and mobility in the warehouse industry. The discussion highlights advancements in robot technology, particularly focused on humanoid robots, their practical applications, user experience considerations in warehousing, and the future landscape of automation.

The Current State of Automation

There has been a huge uptick in automation solutions coming to market in the warehouse space and the panel agrees that labor challenges and finding ways to augment labor are one of the biggest driving factors for this uptick. Adam even mentions how just 5 or 6 years ago at Momentum you would not see robotic solutions at the show but this year there was a presence and most notably the presence of Digit from Agility Robotics, a humanoid robot. As we look at the many options that are on the market, Matt points out how there is a variation in form factors that are allowing for different processes to now be automated and how AI is allowing for more to be done as well.

Humanoids in the Warehouse

When it comes to form factors of robotic solutions, humanoids are certainly garnering a lot of attention. The combination of the humanoid form factor and AI allows for rapid training opportunities that can make a humanoid robot more flexible in what processes it can utilize. Agility Robotics is pushing warehouse automation forward with its humanoid option, Digit, and has firmly put its flag in the sand on being the warehouse humanoid robot. This has been further solidified through their partnership with Manhattan which allows them to integrate with the Manhattan Active Warehouse Management platform and help Manhattan’s users easily bring humanoid robots into their workflows. As of right now, these robots are just moving totes in different ways but Pete discusses the evolution of them and their pursuit to make them into collaborative robots that can work right beside you.

The Future of Automation

Without a doubt, automation is here to stay and will continue to evolve in the coming years. Manhattan is positioning themselves to be able to support these advancements and make utilizing these solutions easier for their end users. The most interesting concept from this conversation came from Matt who describes the future of robotics having a virtual gym where AI based robotics can easily go in to learn a new task. In this virtual gym the robot will be able to replicate the processes at a rapid rate allowing for new tasks to quickly be learned. Through these advancements, robots will be able to become more flexible and adaptable to new environments or tasks.

Key Takeaways

  • Undoubtedly, labor challenges are driving the uptick in automation solutions hitting the market and giving reason for these solutions to continue to be present in our industry.
  • Humanoids are a fairly new form factor to the robotics space and Agility Robotics is focusing on the warehouse specifically by positioning themselves with partnerships like the one with Manhattan Associates, Zion Solutions Group and GXO.
  • To help advance the development of robots, AI is playing a large part in how quickly these robots can and will be able to adapt to their environment and have additional flexibility to focus on more than one task.
The New Warehouse Podcast

EP 493: Automation & Mobility at Momentum 2024 with Agility Robotics & Manhattan Associates