Konoike Transport and OSARO deploy Japan’s first fully automated warehouse

OSARO UR invia robots
Konoike Transport Co., Ltd. and OSARO have teamed up to showcase automated warehouse operations where autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) will work together with picking robots. | Credit: OSARO

Konoike Transport Co., Ltd. and OSARO are joining forces on a new project at the Konoike Institute of Technology Innovation Center (known as KITIC). The goal of the project is to showcase Japan’s first prototype of automated warehouse operations where autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) work together with picking robots to optimize the fulfillment process for warehouse and e-commerce applications.

Konoike Transport already is using AMRs from inVia Robotics to automate the storage and retrieval of a large variety of product SKUs within their warehouses. The addition of the OSARO autonomous piece picking stations enable the automation of the final pick and pack operation.

inVia Robot in a warehouse aisle
inVia robots can acquire and move boxes and totes from shelves. | Image credit: inVia Robotics

The pilot will demonstrate automation of logistics processes by linking inVia Robotics’ AMR and OSARO’s piece-picking robot to provide a smooth path from warehouse inventory to packing and shipping operations.

Here’s how it works:

  • The AMR locates the shelf in the warehouse where the required items are stored
  • It then retrieves the correct inventory storage bin and carries it to the pick-and-place robot station
  • The picking robot picks the item from the inventory storage bin and places it in a different bin, ready for shipment

The picking robot features OSARO’s advanced AI vision system, which enables the robot to perform advanced pick-and-place operations by recognizing transparent, deformed, reflective, and irregularly shaped items—even if they are randomly arranged in the inventory storage bins.

This pilot project is important as countries like Japan figure out how to address the global issues of increasing logistics volume and cope with accelerating labor shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The prototype will prove that tasks such as inventory movement and picking items for order fulfillment can be fully automated.

Through this pilot, the partners aim to identify issues that arise when multiple robotics automation solutions are interacting and to resolve these issues ahead of the planned operational deployment.

The picking robot features OSARO’s advanced AI vision system, which enables the robot to perform advanced pick-and-place operations by recognizing transparent, deformed, reflective, and irregularly shaped items—even if they are randomly arranged in the inventory storage bins.

The OSARO robots are able to pick individual items from bulk inventory presented by the inVia AMRs and cingulate this items into customer orders. The combination of robotics applied here automates the fulfillment process.

Editors note: inVia Robotics CEO Lior Elazary explains how inVia AMR work to automate warehouse workflow in a Mobile Robot Podcast.

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Written by

Mike Oitzman

Mike Oitzman is Senior Editor of WTWH's Robotics Group, cohost of The Robot Report Podcast, and founder of the Mobile Robot Guide. Oitzman is a robotics industry veteran with 25-plus years of experience at various high-tech companies in the roles of marketing, sales and product management. He can be reached at moitzman@wtwhmedia.com.