Finland’s leading logistics operators, Leanware Oy and Würth Oy, have introduced cobot. It is a robot working together with humans. Cobot is introduced in a joint pilot project with logistics automation supplier Vanderlande, a global market leader in its field. Cobot, named Siiri Würth, started working at the Würth logistics center in Riihimäki at the beginning of September. This is a unique development project in the logistics sector, and Finland is the very first country in the world to participate in the Vanderlande project. The goal here is to further develop the cobot that helps people in demanding picking and collecting of break bulk cargo. Siiri is one of the keys for transformation of working life, where work is increasingly done with smaller workforce than before.
Robots have been used in manufacturing industry for a long time and automated processes are nothing new. In the logistics sector, robotization of picking and collecting has in the past usually meant collecting clearly defined units or moving goods automatically. What is unique about Leanware, Würth and Vanderlande’s joint project is that the pilot project features a robot that is able to work in the same area with people and carry out demanding picking tasks meaning that the robot can pick breakbulk cargo.
“In practice, Siiri now enters graduate school, where it can develop enormously. In the beginning, we get to know each other and we want to learn what kind of products are best for the cobot to physically handle, how it can enhance the picking process, and what is the most sensible division of tasks in terms of overall efficiency of human-cobot collaboration so that strong points of both can be optimized. Effectively, we are testing what such a robot is capable of,” says Terhi Vesala, Logistics Manager at Würth.
Cobot Siiri’s greatest strength lies in that it can already grab very different products tirelessly. Also, it knows how to operate safely in the same space with people. When working alone, Siiri’s pace of work is significantly faster, but it recognizes people and slows down when collaborating with them. Siiri will be picking products for Würth’s customers, but the products it picks will be manually verified before being dispatched to the customer at this stage of the experiment. Siiri’s operations are integrated into daily work and it can be controlled via same user interface as other elements of logistics center’s process. Indeed, Siiri is Vanderlande’s first cobot in the world, which is used in real production environment.
Developing Siiri is part of larger change in the logistics sector, in which repeated and routine tasks are increasingly being transferred to robots. The goal here is for people to do the kind of work where they are superior to the robot; and conversely the cobot does the job it is good at. People are able to solve problems in special situations and, for example, do work that requires empathy, while a robot is helpless at this. Via this pilot project, we gain valuable experience in developing the overall efficiency of companies’ in-house logistics processes,” says Mira Sohlman, Business Director at Leanware.
Software provider Leanware integrates cobot to be a seamless part of Würth’s picking process. The warehouse management system is in use by all employees, and via the same user interface, the employee can also use the cobot.
This is the first time when such a solution has been reached. Cobots have now evolved enough. The ground for this pilot project was excellent since we at Leanware are constantly looking for new ways to streamline logistics processes, and our customer Würth want to test opportunities for the future as a pioneer. We have excellent expertise and know-how in logistics in Finland, so it was quite logical that such a pilot project should be initiated in Finland,” Sohlman concludes.
Logistics Manager Terhi Vesala (Ms.), tel. +358 (0)50 500 0344, firstname.lastname@example.org
Business Manager Mira Sohlman, tel. +358 (0)40 8444 323, email@example.com
Würth is a service provider offering tools and supplies for manufacturing industry, construction and maintenance. Würth operates close to their customers through nearly 200 Centers nationwide. Nearly 1,000 Würth people in customer service keep the wheels of manufacturing industry spinning and make the customer’s everyday life easier. Speed, innovation and reliability mean savings and ease for customers.
Headquartered in Tampere, Finland, Leanware Oy is a software house specializing in information systems in commercial, industrial and logistics sectors with the vision to make Finnish companies more competitive in the world. Leanware’s core expertise lies in building a more efficient process with business-friendly data and information systems, e.g. for warehouse management and logistics solutions. The company employs approximately 100 people and the turnover back in 2017 was 8.5 million euros.