FEATURE Robotics & Motion Control

AI power: how robots will transform retail

operations B

efore the 2020 pandemic, robots were making steady inroads into the retail sector, both in stores, warehouses and distribution

centres. By delivering trackable gains in ROI and effi ciency, frontline robots have consistently proved their value to retailers. The need for social distancing has accelerated the trend toward greater automation in the retail sector. As a result, we can expect to see technologies such as autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) become increasingly prevalent in the retail sector. Here are some ways increased technology deployment will alter the retail landscape in the near future:

Essential assets

Although self-driving machines such as autonomous fl oor scrubbers and vacuums could be found in dynamic public areas and workplaces, they sometimes seen as novelty. Fast-forward to 2021 and this reality has changed.

As cleaning becomes a crucial priority, American retailers and grocers, such as Walmart, Kroger and Sam’s Club, have harnessed robot cleaners to support staff and boost effi ciency. According to Brain Corp data, retailers boosted their use of robotic scrubbers by nearly 10% in 2020 compared to the previous year. Altogether, BrainOS- powered robots generated an estimated 3.3 million hours of additional productivity for commercial workers during that year. With robots taking on a greater share of manual tasks, retail staff have had more time

18 June 2021 | Automation

to focus on higher value cleaning tasks, such as disinfecting shop counters, and assisting with other retail store operations, including supporting customers. As cleanliness and effi ciency become

increasingly important, we expect automation to expand further in the retail sector in the coming months and years.

Enhanced performance A novel and overlooked feature of autonomous robots is the ability of email reporting and cloud-based user portals to provide near-real-time usage data. More specifi cally, cleaning operations can be monitored and data collected on performance indicators such as cleaning coverage, number of routes run, and percentage of autonomous versus manual usage. Heat maps showing areas cleaned can act as detailed, visual reference points. This high-resolution data allows routine cleaning performance to be optimised, as well as better conform with compliance goals. In the coming years, a greater number of retail operators will use data insights to adjust their operations and demonstrate clear ‘proof of work’ metrics. Centralised and cloud-based robotic

software platforms will play a large part in task management, allowing multiple automated retail applications from diff erent manufacturers to be managed in one place. Managers will be able to control entire robotic fl eets through a combination of centralised data hosting and reporting, built-in safety protocols, connected user

experiences and automatic software upgrades. A unifi ed, AI-driven approach will allow for an unprecedented level of user control.

User-friendly Autonomous robots have traditionally been deployed in warehouse and manufacturing environments in which specialised technical support staff are solely responsible for supervision and operations. But before robotic devices can be used at scale in public areas, such as retail and grocery stores, devices must be made easy to use for non- technical staff .

Robots designed for dynamic retail settings must include intuitive user interfaces, graphical reporting and easy deployment instructions, or employees will likely raise objections to working with them compared with traditional methods. Simplifi ed user experiences will become an essential requirement for all public-facing shop fl oor robots. Year 2020 was a watershed year for

robotics, owing to a once-in-a-lifetime global health crisis. Within a span of a few months, robots became retail must-haves and are an increasingly familiar sight in some major shopping locations. We expect this trend to accelerate in the next few years and be a mainstay long into the future.


Brain Corp

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46