AGVs for order picking

Ecommerce has come to our lives to stay and it is based on flexible logistics (very quickly updates) and efficient (in time and money). Years ago, Amazon surprised the world with the application of a new order picking technology: AGVs.

This application of AGVs is based on the fact that the operator does not have to move to pick the products throughout the warehouse, but rather the products are directed to the operator to be picked. This way of working is known as “G2P” (Goods to Person).

Why is it common to decide on this solution and not another? What does the AGV solution provide compared to others?

The AGVs solution has two unique features:

· Installations, modifications and extensions of this type of technology can be carried out in a simple and fast way.

· The design of the solution and the wide freedom of movement of the AGV allow a very fast amortization of the application. In other words, the investment is made for the entire warehouse and not exclusively for certain aisles (it is the case in many automated warehouses). It is common for AGVs to carry out 80% of their movements in 20% of the warehouse area.

Today, there are 2 possibilities on the market to carry out G2P order picking with AGVs. These two options are differentiated by the load transported by the AGVs.

Option 1: Boxes or Crates

· If there is a spectacular proposal, without a doubt we are talking about that of the French company Exotec, in which the AGVs even move vertically on the shelves:

· The climbing AGVs of the Israelis Bionic Hive are also quite a novelty:

· Guozi's Chinese AGVs have the characteristic that they carry more than one box at a time, increasing the AGV's efficiency:

Option 2: Shelves

This is the most common solution and the one used by Amazon. AGVs carry shelves full of products that have been designed according to the size of the AGV. In some cases, they also transport pallets.

In this case, the AGV application has an additional advantage: it works with various depths of shelves, so that high runners (high consumption products) can be stored at a depth and low runners (low consumption products) at various depths. This supposes a very compressed warehouse in space.

The main providers worldwide of this type of solutions are:

· The Swiss Swisslog:

· The indian Grey Orange:

· The Chinese Geek +:

· The Spanish ASTI:

Apart from these two options, forklift AGVs (automated forklifts) have also been used in the past but this is a trend more and more downward due to the dimensions of the vehicle. Today's picking solutions tend to transport smaller and smaller load units.