When you operate a fulfillment center, you face a daily optimization challenge because of the sheer quantity and variety of products moving in and out. 

The team at Accenture Applied Intelligence simulated a fulfillment center to find the best way to pick and put away those products. Using reinforcement learning with Pathmind’s platform, the Accenture team increased picking and putaway efficiency, and their results show how AI can help warehouses make better operational decisions. 

Challenge

The fulfillment center has inbound and outbound docks and a central warehouse space. It handles four different types of products. Every fifteen minutes, a truck arrives at an inbound dock carrying boxes of a single type of product. At the outbound docks, trucks arrive every sixty minutes and are loaded with boxes of products intended for their destination. 

Five hallways connect the warehouse to the docks. When workers move boxes from an inbound truck to the warehouse, or from the warehouse to an outbound truck, they must choose the hallway they take. The goal of optimizing the simulation is to show which hallways will reduce the distance travelled by workers as they load the outbound trucks. 

Why Pathmind Was Needed

Since this model features a dynamic, complex environment, other optimization methods would struggle to produce good results. A traditional  heuristic would also not be entirely efficient in this situation since there are several contributing factors that need to be considered when choosing a hallway. 

Outcome

Pathmind’s AI found the best hallway to cut the total distance that warehouse workers travelled as they loaded outbound trucks with product boxes. These decisions lessened the time that outbound trucks needed to wait to be loaded, adding yet more efficiency. 

Using Pathmind in this fulfillment center simulation shows how reinforcement learning helps optimize simulations in complex environments, and can be an empowering tool for businesses looking for better results in their models as they seek new paths to profitability.

Want to know more? View this model on AnyLogic Cloud.

About Accenture Applied Intelligence

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