Warehouse robot for e-commerce fulfillment

An autonomous fulfillment robot with a 50 kg payload for warehouses. The robot has IP-45 ingression protection to operate both indoors and (temporarily) outdoors.

Industry:

Robotics

,

Electric Transport

TRL:

3 → 7

Project duration:

6 months

Challenge

A startup company engaged in industrial robotic automation approached EnCata with a POC (TRL-3) prototype. Their robot does a fulfillment job in warehouses similar to KIVA robots of Amazon and QUICKTRON from Alibaba.

The startup’s team consisted of prominent software and electrical engineers. They engaged EnCata to:  

  • refine their concept and progress  the industrial design,
  • optimize the BOM,
  • implement a DFM approach in prototype development,
  • prepare for low-volume production and proceed with their pilot projects.

Our Role

  • Technical Concept development
  • Industrial design
  • Kinematic computer simulations 
  • CAD development
  • DFM
  • Custom IC design
  • Full documentation development
  • Custom jig design
  • Prototype manufacturing

Technologies Used

Wireless battery charger design

Wireless battery charger design

DC motor wheel

DC motor wheel

CNC milling & lathe

CNC milling & lathe

Laser cutting CNC

Laser cutting CNC

Sheet metal bending CNC

Sheet metal bending CNC

Kinematic simulations

Kinematic simulations

Welding

Welding

Video camera for MV

Video camera for MV

Lidar technology

Lidar technology

Vacuum forming

Vacuum forming

Onboard Wi-Fi

Onboard Wi-Fi

EnCata offers comprehensive hardware and IoT product development services at a fraction of the cost

For Enterprises

R&D + design + manufacturing under ONE roof
Scale up and down your team
Intergrated hardware + software development
New technologies and research 

CORPORATIONS click HERE for more info

For Startups

MVP and POC prototypes
Affordable consultancy rates
All IP is yours
In-house batch production

STARTUPS click HERE for more info

Approach & Solution

EnCata began the project by refining the concept and conducting robot carriage/suspension simulations to ensure its stability and effectiveness in a variety of situations.

Having completed a multitude of various kinematic simulations and use-cases, EnCata’s engineers proceeded to finalize the concept while our industrial designers gave the robot a fashionable touch.

We tried to move away from the typical chunky straight lines of industrial robots and suggested a streamlined clean robot shape, while at the same time having the DFM in mind. Thus the industrial design phase left the customer with the design of the cover made with vacuum forming technology in order to reduce the robot production costs.

We worked closely with the startup team on the electrical development, BOM optimization, and components procurement. The robot implemented several essential components such as:

With the detailed prototype CAD, we proceeded to source components, design tools, and manufacture the alpha.

The robot was then first assembled as a ‘skeleton’ chassis. Components, electronics and wires were added later. The startup team took an active role in robot assembly and wiring.

The “Stripped alpha” robot prototype was produced in-house and underwent the EVT (TRL-5 tests).

Following the tests, a mold for vacuum forming was designed and manufactured.  The ‘skeleton’ was upgraded with the enclosure of the DVT (design validation tests).

After the prototype tests, we finished with the DFM, updated the CADs, and produced the documentation/drawings for batch production.

When the load is unevenly distributed on the robot, some motor wheels can detach from the floor, lose grip and slide. Thus the robot’s chassis design has to ensure that all wheels are in contact with the floor even in the case of asymmetrical cargo stowage. 

When designing the fulfillment robot chassis, one must implement kinematic and motion simulations as early as at the concept phase to ensure the cargo mass is uniformly administered to all the drive wheels.

Results

The client made a leap from a proof-of-concept prototype to production readiness level (TRL-8), covering the DFM, and had a set of tooling designed. Work with EnCata allowed the startup to focus on what they do best: embedded robot systems and warehouse/enterprise-level software integration.

5

months took EnCata to design and manufacture the robot


IP-45

is the Ingress Protection Code of the robot, protecting it from rain and water jets

50 kg

is the robot’s designed payload

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