Zebra Technologies introduces warehouse automation at MODEX 2024

The Fetch100 Roller Guide AMR has an enhanced user interface. Source: Zebra Technologies
The Fetch100 Roller Guide AMR has an enhanced user interface. Source: Zebra Technologies

At MODEX in Atlanta last week, Zebra Technologies Corp. announced mobile robots, back-of-hand scanners, and wearable computers intended to help supply chain workers and streamline productivity.

“Managing the supply chain has become more complex, with increased consumer expectations for inventory and same-day deliveries,” stated Andre Luecht, global strategy lead for transportation, logistics, and warehousing at Zebra Technologies. “Zebra helps businesses work in new ways with technology and automation to drive the right outcomes in their operations and build an agile supply chain through better accuracy, visibility, and efficiency.”

The Lincolnshire, Ill.-based company said it helps organizations manage workflows by “ensuring that everyone and everything is visible, connected, and fully optimized.” Zebra’s portfolio includes autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) acquired with Fetch Robotics in 2021, as well as software, machine vision, automation, and digital decisioning.

Supply chain challenges require tech investment

“Operations leaders in the manufacturing, warehouse, retail, and transportation and logistics industries worldwide continue to grapple with fostering resilient supply chains amid heightened omnichannel demands for speed and accuracy, ongoing labor shortages, and economic uncertainty,” said Zebra Technologies.

Eighty-nine percent of decision-makers surveyed in Zebra’s 2023 Global Warehouse Study said that if their organizations do not invest in technology to improve operations, they will not meet their business objectives.

The company has more than 50 years of experience in scanning, track-and-trace, and mobile computing. With an ecosystem of 10,000 partners across more than 100 countries, Zebra said its customers include over 80% of the Fortune 500.


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Zebra offers automation to boost productivity

Augmenting front-line workers with automation is a top technology priority for manufacturing and supply chain leaders, according to Zebra Technologies. The company unveiled enhancements to the Fetch100 AMRs at MODEX.

They included the Fetch100 Roller Guide Autonomous Mobile Robot, which combine simplified human-machine collaboration and conveyer delivery into one system. Workers can easily see tasks, destinations, and status via the Roller Guide’s integrated touchscreen and smart LEDs, Zebra said.

The Fetch 100 Roller Guide is able to autonomously load and unload totes and bins from existing mechanized equipment such as conveyors. This can improve warehouse worker productivity, the company asserted.

Along with its channel partners, Zebra also showed machine vision-based “ready solutions.” The company said its flexible automation offerings enable businesses to do everything from simple track-and-trace operations and complex quality inspection checks to deep learning-based optical character reading (DL-OCR) of manufacturing work in process.

Zebra said its scan tunneldock door, and packing bench demonstrations showed how fixed industrial scanners and machine vision can reduce errors as well as improve productivity, visibility, and overall operational efficiency.

Connected Frontline Workers Drive Productivity

According to Zebra Technologies’ study, eight in 10 decision-makers and frontline workers said using more technology and automation would help meet or exceed productivity goals. In addition, 54% of decision-makers and 49% of workers agreed that worker comfort and ergonomics should be top workforce initiatives.

At MODEX, the company showed its new RS2100 wearable scanner, which it claimed is the industry’s smallest back-of-hand (BOH) scanner. The mount on the RS2100 leaves the palm unobstructed, providing greater freedom to handle items, it said.

The Fetch100 Roller Guide AMR from Zebra
Zebra showed the Fetch100 Roller Guide AMR and wearable technologies at MODEX. Source: Zebra Technologies

Zebra also launched the WT6400 and WT5400 wearable computers. They are engineered to streamline hands-free workflows and improve accuracy and efficiency for picking orders, sorting items, and managing inventory.

With a larger display and integrated keyboard, the WT6400 is designed for right- and left-handed access, and its integrated angled camera captures images to document damaged items or completed tasks. The WT6400 is built for demanding environments including freezer operation (-30°C), while the WT5400 introduces a new class of wearable computers for hands-free retail workflows.

New to Zebra’s TC5X series were the TC53e/TC58e/TC53e-RFID mobile computers. They offer 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, integrated RFID, and premium security features and contain 25% post-consumer recycled plastic by mass.

The TC53e-RFID offers integrated short-range UHF RFID, enabling associates to take inventory in the backroom, validate tickets at a concert, or verify all items in a shopping cart from up to nearly 1.2 m (4 ft.) away with the same device ergonomics as the standard TC53e, said Zebra.

The TC5Xe series, WT6400, and WT5400 all use the Qualcomm QCM4490 and QCS4490 processors, which provide long lifecycles and more processing power compared to previous generations. These devices can run multiple applications including apps powered by augmented reality and AI, apps designed for voice and line of business, as well as simple “green screen” legacy apps, said Zebra.

“We are excited to be a part of the next evolution of Zebra’s TC5Xe series and new WT6400 and WT5400 wearable computers,” said Art Miller, vice president of business development and global head of retail IoT at Qualcomm Technologies Inc. “Our collaboration with Zebra equips front-line workers with intelligent computing, enabling them to be more efficient and more productive.”

Beyond its new wearables and mobile computers, Zebra recently launched the MC9400 series ultra-rugged mobile computer. It said it can enhance workflow efficiency and device security.

Written by

Automated Warehouse Staff