Engineering Sample Essay on Kiva Warehouse Automation Systems

Kiva Warehouse Automation Systems  3


Occasionally, developed industries are revolved upside down by innovations. The years of research on robotics and multi-agent systems are joining efforts to deliver fair such an interruption to the substantial handling trade. Despite the fact that autonomous guided vehicles have been used to move materials within warehouses, they have been employed mainly to carry very huge, weighty objects like reels of uncut paper or engine slabs. The convergences of low-cost wireless communications, computational control, as well as robotic elements are making autonomous vehicles low-priced, slighter and more proficient. The Kiva Warehouse Automation system establishes a new model for pick-pack-and –transport warehouses that significantly improves worker productivity (Wurman, 2009). The Kiva warehouse system uses portable storing tables that can be elevated by minor, autonomous machines. By bringing the product to the worker, productivity is increased by a factor of two or more, while simultaneously improving accountability and flexibility. A kiva connection for a large delivery midpoint may want over five hundred vehicle. This thus implies that the Kiva system signifies the principal commercially obtainable, all-encompassing autonomous robot structures. It is noted that the first permanent setting up of a Kiva system was organized in the summertime of 2006.

Key Innovation of Kiva Warehouse Automation Systems

Studies reveal that Kiva Warehouse automation systems publicized obtainability of an automated material handling system targeted at pick-pack-and –transport warehouses (Wurman, 2009). Therefore, the main innovation in the Kiva warehouse automation systems is the presentation of low-priced robots proficient in lifting and carrying three foot square shelving entities, referred to as inventory pods. The robots, named drive divisions, transport the inventory cases from stowage areas to locations where employees can take objects off the tables and put them into shipment boxes. All through the day, the picker remains in the location whereas a proceeding tributary of robots grants pick surfaces. Through shifting the inventory to the employee, instead of the employee moving to where the inventory is has resulted into employee productivity at least double. These outcomes have been born out in pilot ventures and at a stable installation that went online during the 2006 summertime.

Unlike other commercial robotic application systems such as Multi-Vehicle Systems, which comprise of a minority of robots per placement, a distinctive fitting of a Kiva system in a huge warehouse will include numerous robots. Accordingly, field conditions for Multi-Vehicle systems can be categorized in a range of magnitudes. The great case of an unidentified environment is an earthly exploration. Search and save situations and landmine discovery pose such challenging environment that robots to carry out these errands are still a long way from being cost effective (Tarek, 2012). In contrast, the Kiva drive units function in a controlled, known environment which greatly shortens the project problem and makes the solution useful. The business case for connecting a Kiva system usually projects a one to three year profit on investment. Accordingly, despite the fact that other systems are compliant, the Kiva robots are fundamentally self-determining. No robot depends upon any other robot to accomplish its duty, even though the system requires them all to succeed in order to complete a customer order.

Kiva Solution

The drive components are less ample to fit underneath the inventory case, and are outfitted with a mechanical lifting mechanism that permits them to lift pods off the ground. The pods comprise of a heap of platters, each of which is partitioned into containers. A variety of tray sizes and container sizes establishes the mixture of storage localities for the profile of products of the warehouse stores. Typically, a Kiva warehouse automation system installation is organized on a network with storage sectors at the central and inventory locations spread around the edge. The drive units are used to move the inventory pods with the correct containers from their storage places to the inventory where a pick employee removes the desired products from the container. It is significant to note that the pod has four surfaces, and the drive division may require to rotate the pod so that it can present the right face. Therefore, once a worker has accomplished his or her job with a pod, the drive division stocks in an empty stowage site.

Every site is equipped with a desktop computer that controls pick lights, barcode scanners, as well as laser pointers that are employed to identify the pick and put sites. For the reason that every invention is perused in and out of the system, complete selection faults decline, which possibly eradicates the necessity for post collecting superiority control. Generally, each site is proficient of being either a picking site or a renewal site. Virtually, pick sites will be placed near outbound conveyors and renewal sites will be placed close to pallet drop off points. The power of the Kiva solution emanates from the fact that it permits every employee to have unsystematic entree to any inventory in the warehouse. Furthermore, inventory can be recovered in comparable. This implies that as the picker is filling various boxes at the same time, the parallel, random access ensures that she is nit waiting on pods to arrive. Indeed, through maintaining a small queue of work at the station, the Kiva system supplies a fresh pod surface every five seconds, which sets a standard picking percentage of six hundred lines per hour. On the other hand, top proportions can be more than five hundred positions per hour when the worker can gather more than one object off a case.

Benefits of Kiva warehouse automation systems

There are noteworthy benefits that can be enjoyed from this system. For instance, there is greater accountability as each order is filled fully through a single person, improving accuracy and accountability through the reduction of number of touches on the product. Accordingly, there is no downstream dependencies; this implies that no single employee`s productivity relies on the performance of employees earlier in a sequential procedure. Rather, every employee`s location is comprehensive and self-contained. There is also no consignment dispensation; in a Kiva warehouse, the whole lot is accomplished immediately. This means that the customer`s order can be filled very fast, that is within minutes of being received. The systems renewal procedure is greatly streamlined because the site for renewal is free and any station can be used to put the product away (Wellman, 2007). Accordingly, the system is quite effective and there is no particular fact of disappointment. Unlike a transporter, in case a drive unit end from functioning, it does not interfere with the entire floor. The rest of the system proceeds to function, and most likely there is no noticeable effect on productivity. The system also experiences quick positioning; this is because there is no static substructure; a fifty point warehouse can be accepted online in a matter of days as a substitute of months. Kiva has developed a lesser, two location systems in a day. The system has spatial flexibility; this means that it can accommodate poles, flow into numerous rooms, and handle other Eccentricities of the environment. Through incorporating automated lifts, a Kiva installation can use entresols to seal the perpendicular space. In case there is need for expansion, a warehouse may simply add more pods, drives as well as stations. The simplicity with which warehouses can be conveyed virtually and extended implies that managers do not need to buy automation with the capacity to handle the volume forecast for five years out. On the contrary, they only require a huge structure, and they can acquire the Kiva constituents to deal with the enlargement as it transpires.

AI Techniques used

The Kiva warehouse automation system is extremely influenced by IA methods though several of the techniques employed are textbook applications of well-recognized systems. Accordingly, the software design replicates the point that the Kiva system is a multi-agent system because of its nature (Hompel, 2006). This is because every drive unit and every station is a computational gadget that can receive requests and act on them. Similarly, the system represents a huge and resource distribution difficult. In this case, the possessions encompass shelf galaxy at the location, drive divisions, stowage cases, as well as inventory and corporeal space.


To this end, it has been noted that the Kiva warehouse automation system has been well welcomed by the marketplace. Therefore, as this approach grows through the industry, there are likely to be various interesting new computational and organizational problems that require solutions. Kiva system has provided a great opportunity to researcher or engineers to work on systems including various robots to be very energizing and it is hoped that other people will be motivated to work on related issues.


Hompel, M. (2006).Warehouse Management: Automation and Organization of Warehouse and Order Picking Systems. Boston, CA: Springer.

Tarek, M. (2012). Prototyping of Robotic Systems: Applications of Design and Implementation. New York, NY: IGI Global Snippet.

Wellman, M. P. (2007). Economic principles of multi-agent systems. Artificial Intelligence. 94(1):1–6.

Wurman, P. (2009). Coordinating Hundreds of Cooperative, Autonomous Vehicles in Warehouses. Woburn, MA:  Sage.