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Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are material handlers that use sensors to detect their environment, which they can safely navigate without supervision. They are connected to a facility’s network and preprogrammed with the best path through their working environment. While in operation they have a series of features—including visual and audible signals, as well as emergency bump stops—to keep operators, infrastructure, other equipment, and goods safe.

AMRs can be quickly integrated into a warehouse environment without changing the facility’s infrastructure. For this reason, they are often used to fill labor gaps and meet seasonal or peak demand. Different models can be used to help picking operations, inventory control, sortation, and consolidation.

The benefits of AMRs

Reduce production and labor costs

In many markets, labor has been hard to find, expensive, or both since well before 2020. But in the wake of the supply chain disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have moved to re-shoring at least some of their warehousing operations and establishing a Just-in-Case inventory model.

As companies look to find ways to move products and goods through their facilities, AMRs have proven to be an affordable, flexible alternative to manual labor. They are also less expensive than many fixed systems, can be deployed in as little as a month, and have the added benefit of keeping the floorspace usable for operators and other equipment.

Improve space utilization

Like many automated warehouse solutions, AMRs can help save labor by reducing the time operators spend walking the floor to put away or retrieve merchandise. But the manner in which AMRs do this enables facilities to improve their operation’s organizational efficiency in a number of key ways.

Compared to other automation that offer similar benefits to AMRs — including improved safety, accuracy, and efficiency — AMRs simply take up less space. They don’t require specialized racking and can use the same routing as traditional forklifts and tuggers. Moreover, because they are connected to the facility’s network, they can help clear out bottlenecks and reduce the time that products spend in staging areas.

Depending on the exact technologies used, AMRs can even be integral parts of sortation and consolidation processes, which help warehouses minimize the space their products take up in storage.


AMRs require some basic infrastructure to get up and running, which most facilities either already have or desperately need. This includes a Warehouse Management System (WMS) capable of directing all of a warehouse’s many moving parts, and time spent mapping the AMRs routes.

Once those fundamental components are in place, a fleet of AMRs can be scaled up or down on a nearly as-needed basis. With Robotics as a Service (RaaS) payment options, if a facility knows it’s entering a season of peak demand, it can simply on-board more units. And when the demand is over, the units can be returned to their owner — the service provider. This also allows the units to be treated as an operational, as opposed to capital, expense.

Easy and fast installation

Fixed automation like conveyors and storage and retrieval systems certainly have their place in material handling. But they require dedicated floor space to function and can take as much as 18 months to implement. During this time, this space is typically not usable until the fixed solution is operational. This means a temporary loss of use of that space, which can be detrimental to ongoing operations.

While AMRs have some parameters that have to be met — including enough space in an aisle to turn around or slot merchandise — the only infrastructure they require is for a minimal amount of space to be dedicated to their charging stations. Other than that, they are designed to function in the same paths as other material handling solutions like forklifts and tuggers. This enables them to be integrated into a facility in as little as a month, with minimal effect on the rest of a facility’s operations.


One of the primary benefits of most automated material handling solutions — AMRs included — is that they remove operators from an injury-prone task. Operators who walk miles every day on unyielding concrete can develop problems in their feet and knees. If they are repeatedly moving heavy objects, they are subject to sprain and strain injuries. And driving heavy machinery like forklifts are some of the most dangerous jobs in a warehouse, for both the operators and nearby pedestrians.

On top of that, AMRs are equipped with a suite of safety features, including audible alarms, visual signals, and emergency bump stops, to keep operators in the area safe. AMRs continuously scan their environment using lidar (light detection and ranging) or similar technologies, and can detect when their path is obstructed by people, equipment, or merchandise. They are capable of finding alternate routes or, if none are available, will stop instead of putting anyone or anything at risk.

Typical applications of AMRs

Moving pallets between zones

AMRs are an integral component in many material handling operations, including the movement of heavy pallets. This can be achieved in a number of ways, depending on the needs of the facility.

AMRs can be equipped with top-side conveyors, can lift pallets from a transfer stand, or can look and act like conventional forklifts and pull merchandise from static racking. They can take goods from shipping to storage, pull pallets to pick faces in a goods-to-person operation, and easily move goods between environmental zones. In nearly any operation in which pallets need to be moved in predictable, repeated patterns, AMRs can be integrated to improve the consistency, accuracy, and throughput.

Line-side supply and delivery

AMRs can enable lean manufacturing processes by moving goods in and out of storage in a way that is dynamic enough to support line-side and point-of-use operations. AMRs can bring tools and inventory directly to operators at a height that is ergonomic.

This can help lean operations reduce their inventory and control their wasted motion, time spent transporting goods, and time wasted waiting for goods.

Moving eaches or small cases

As the use-case for AMRs has grown, manufacturers have continued to meet the industry’s demand, and AMRs are being developed with increasingly user-friendly designs. Peer Robotics, for example, has developed a line of AMR cobots (collaborative robots) that can independently move totes, small cases, or eaches.

Peer Robotics cobots use state-of-the-art, no-code deployment solutions that enable their system to be deployed in minutes. They can be used to deliver goods autonomously, or can be equipped with an appropriate user interface to work directly alongside an operator.

Important considerations when evaluating a systems integration partner for an AMR implementation.

Are they consultative?

When partnering with a systems integrator, one of the risks material handling companies face is trying to work with a partner that promises more than they can deliver. The integration partner smiles through consultations and then, behind the scenes, desperately tries to invent the technology they need to deliver on their promises. They miss deadline after deadline until their client reaches a point of no return — they’re willing to justify their costs by seeing any kind of benefit from their investment. Even if those benefits are well below what was originally planned and agreed to.

PeakLogix is not that kind of partner. We are fully consultative, and prioritize your goals and needs. We undertake a thorough discovery process so that we understand both the roadblocks you face now and the goals you have for the future. Our solutions are designed to help you move past your roadblocks, and scale with your business growth. We don’t offer solutions in a top-down fashion that refuses input and denies questions, but collaborate with you and provide the recommendations we believe will best suit your needs.

Are they vendor agnostic?

Vendor agnostic solutions providers like PeakLogix don’t push their favorite suppliers onto their customers. Instead, we work with our suppliers to find and test the applications for which their product is the best fit. We don’t pitch untested products as viable solutions, but rather look for the best solution that already has a track record of solid performance.

Being open to integrating the best solutions on the market — regardless of their manufacturer — means we can truly optimize solutions for our clients, and quickly adjust to changing demands.

Is there a robust software ecosystem?

AMRs and AGVs are uniquely versatile, flexible material handling solutions. One of their few prerequisites is that the facility has a robust computer networking system. Depending on your exact use-case, AMRs need to be able to track their surroundings, to follow their preprogrammed mapping, and to interface with conveyors or other machinery and operators. And they need to do this in the right way and at the exact right time.

This means that, to integrate AMRs and AGVs into your operations, you’ll need one of two things. Either a software solution flexible enough to interface with and control these disparate technologies. Or an integration partner that can provide an appropriate software system.

Can they scale to your needs?

The changing urban landscape, an aging workforce, the large-scale adoption of ecommerce, and the increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning have created challenges and brought opportunities that are continuing to change industries in every sector. Businesses need solutions that are more responsive than ever, with the ability to scale both up and down to meet a company’s growth as well as periodic changes in demand.

PeakLogix has been solving the material-handling needs of companies of every size, and in many industries, for over 30 years. We are dedicated to our own continuous improvement because we know that designing systems that will adapt to your changing business needs means being knowledgeable about changes in the industry. By offering adaptive solutions where appropriate, we bring added value to our partners.

Are they available when you need them?

PeakLogix started in 1989 as a material handling and systems integrator serving clients across the Mid-Atlantic. Over the past 30 years, we’ve completed thousands of successful projects and have grown to become a thought leader in the industry and a national provider of innovative solutions, software systems, and automated technologies.

From the beginning of our working relationships with clients, our team works to discover your goals and challenges. We collaborate with you to develop solutions that meet your needs today and also lay the groundwork for your future growth. When your project is complete, we offer services including 24/7 system support, operator training, and maintenance and repairs.

At PeakLogix, our partnerships are our priority.

What AMR solutions should you consider for your inbound handling?

WMS Software (PickPro®)

ScottTech PickPro® is our proprietary Warehouse Management Software (WMS). It’s a fully independent, system-agnostic, web-based software solution that can control all aspects of distribution, and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of any material handling company.

ScottTech PickPro® can serve as a standalone solution, or integrate with your ERP. It can incorporate AS/RS equipment and all the peripherals, control AGVs as well as AMRs, track and manage inventory of both parts and goods, and layer seamlessly with your software architecture to provide granular feedback on, and control of, your operations.

Autonomous Tugger

Alta Robotics’ Autonomous Tugger, powered by Vecna, is designed for high-capacity transport in high throughput environments. It can be programmed for line-side replenishment, and is ideal for non-conveyable goods at sortation hubs.

The Autonomous Tugger is a self-driving tow-tractor engineered to achieve industry-leading top speeds, and capable of transporting up to 10,000 lbs. It can tow a variety of carts at varying train lengths for up to 8 hours or more on a single charge, depending on use.

Autonomous Counterbalance Fork Truck

Alta Robotics’ Autonomous Counterbalance Fork Truck, powered by Vecna, achieves industry-leading top speeds and pallet pickup times, helping facilities increase their efficiency and throughput. The Counterbalance Fork Truck can move a variety of payloads and pallet types, lift to conveyors, and work in tandem with other materials handling equipment.

The Counterbalance Fork Truck is equipped with multi-sensor fusion for autonomous control, as well as a ride-on steering tiller for manual control. It can run for up to 8 hours or more on a single charge, depending on the exact application.

Autonomous Pallet Truck

Alta Robotics’ Autonomous Pallet Truck, powered by Vecna, is a self-driving center rider designed to improve workflow efficiencies, productivity, and profitability. It is the ideal autonomous material handling solution in many environments, including high-throughput facilities with long-distance hauling.

Powered with Mark 3 technology, the Autonomous Pallet Truck can reach an industry-leading top speed of 3 m/s (6.7 mph) and, along with Alta Robotics’ other autonomous vehicles, offers the quickest solution for autonomous pallet pickups.

Advance your automotive operations.

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