In order to keep up with growing eCommerce orders, follow through on the promise of speedy shipping, adapt to the globalization of supply chains, and adjust for labor shortages that can affect all three, 3PL technology is vital.
A 3PL fulfillment company needs the right software, automation, and integrations to allow eCommerce clients to succeed. While fulfillment technology can help 3PLs achieve maximum efficiency in all the areas their eCommerce clients care about, usage of AMRs (Automated Mobile Robots) is a huge contributor. Continue reading to get the FYI on AMRs, and the benefits they bring to your eCommerce business. You can also check out ShipMonk’s eCommerce fulfillment platform video for a deeper look at our overarching tech-forward approach to fulfillment.
What is an AMR?
AMR stands for Automated Mobile Robot. These aren’t your grandpa’s stationary robots. AMRs are capable of moving around on their own through the surrounding environment. Today they have become a pivotal part of surviving and thriving in the eCommerce industry, empowering 3PL fulfillment facilities to work more efficiently in spite of increasing demands and challenges, thus getting eCommerce orders out the door quickly and accurately.
Though 3PLs and fulfillment centers have been around for decades, many were slow to modernize, resisting the advancements that digital innovation and technology have to offer. This has created huge gaps in service levels and efficiency, and is why 3PLs that do embrace moving forward, like ShipMonk, are able to run more effectively than fulfillment competitors that don’t. AMRs are a huge part of that progress, literally and figuratively driving business forward.
In the last five years Amazon began employing the use of over 200,000 AMRs across warehouses in addition to drastically increasing its regular workforce. This is only the beginning. Studies show that more than 70% of fulfillment warehouses that use AMRs have reached double-digit improvements, which leads to immense growth for eCommerce merchants. Based on the high-level results, top 3PL fulfillment companies are acting now. In a recent whitepaper ABI Research asserted that AMR purchases are predicted to increase 65% in 2022. The change would increase the number of AMR shipments from 274K in 2021 to 452K shipments by the end of this year.
The 3PL fulfillment companies that are finding ways to incorporate this technology today are setting themselves (and their eCommerce merchants) up for success tomorrow. There are, of course, many types of AMRs to choose from. The key is to utilize the technology that fits into a warehouse’s existing fulfillment platforms, processes, and demands. At ShipMonk, we use Locus Robotics as our AMRs because the advanced machines fit perfectly within our suite of existing automated fulfillment technology.
ShipMonk prides itself on having automation integrated into every step of our process. Locus AMRs allow us to minimize pick time and cost while speeding up fulfillment times and living up to industry-leading quality standards. As a result, we can give our eCommerce clients amazing, dependable turnaround times so they fill their orders promptly and keep their customers happy.
Locus Robotics is focused on optimizing warehouse operations. The company’s founders were early adopters of the idea to utilize robotics to enhance warehouse productivity. With that drive at the core, enormous engineering went into creating powerful, intelligent AMRs that defied the limitations of previous robots, i.e. robots that would meet the evolving needs of eCommerce environments on the front and back end.
Add to that, Locus robots aim to empower people, not replace them. Locus AMRs are meant to collaborate with 3PL fulfillment employees, working safely alongside them to handle growing inventory, increased demands for speed, and more complex global supply chain networks. As Locus notes: “We’ve built more than just a great robot. We’ve built a complete, end-to-end system that’s designed specifically to meet your eCommerce fulfillment needs.”
AMRs = Better Fulfillment
Fulfillment robotics companies are only continuing to become more important as they work on new ways to improve warehouse productivity. As a 3PL, learning to incorporate the right robotics with a skilled workforce is key to achieving smoother warehouse operations. As an entrepreneur, if you are looking for a 3PL, you want to select a partner that will give you the most effective fulfillment services so your customers are delighted, your brand can grow, and your business is set up to scale. All three goals are tied to warehouse efficiency, and achieving that is tied to the technology behind the 3PL fulfillment process. Overall, AMRs like the Locus Robots used at ShipMonk, provide the following benefits to eCommerce businesses:
- Increased order fulfillment capabilities
- No warehouse disruption or reconfiguration to delay order fulfillment
- Quicker responses to SKU volume growth and seasonal shifts
- Better control over labor costs, keeping things moving at all times
- More efficient fulfillment processes
- Enhanced safety for employees, reducing any slowdowns from injuries
Do the Robot
The film Kung Fu Panda 3 notes that “If you only do what you can do, you’ll never be more than what you are.” Such is the nature of any competitive industry. We have to evolve if we want to grow; we have to test new methods to achieve higher potential. A lot of companies, 3PL or otherwise, can be hesitant about change, particularly in regards to technology. But the fact is technology isn’t meant to be some scary AI from a sci-fi story; great technology is meant to help people.
While traditional 3PL fulfillment providers might be clinging to the old ways, utilizing technology that works alongside employees fosters a safer, more productive environment that gets eCommerce orders, picked, packed, and shipped with the highest efficiency. AMRs are a pivotal part of that formula. Millions and millions of orders are shipped across the globe every day and Automated Mobile Robots, like the Locus Robots ShipMonk utilizes, help 3PLs meet that demand and keep our clients and their customers smiling. Isn’t that what it’s all about in the end?
If you’re looking for a 3PL fulfillment company that knows how to pair advanced technology with a skilled workforce to yield great results for your brand, contact the ShipMonk team to speak with one of our award-winning “Happiness Engineers” now!