Robotic handling systems are increasingly applied in distribution centers. The require little space, provide flexibility in managing varying demand requirements, and are able to work 24/7. This makes them particularly fit for e-commerce operations. This paper reviews new categories of automated and robotic handling systems, such as shuttle-based storage and retrieval systems, shuttle-based compact storage systems, and robotic mobile fulfillment systems. For each system, we categorize the literature in three groups: system analysis, design optimization, and operations planning and control. Our focus is to identify the research issue and operations research modeling methodology adopted to analyze the problem. We find that many new robotic systems and applications have hardly been studied in academic literature, despite their increasing use in practice. Because of unique system features (such as autonomous control, flexible layout, networked and dynamic operation), new models and methods are needed to address the design and operational control challenges for such systems, in particular, for the integration of subsystems. Integrated robotic warehouse systems will form the next category of warehouses. All vital warehouse design, planning, and control logic, such as methods to design layout, storage and order-picking system selection, storage slotting, order batching, picker routing, and picker to order assignment, will have to be revisited for new robotized warehouses.

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Keywords Control, Planning, Robotic systems, Warehousing
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Journal Transportation Science
Azadeh, K, de Koster, M.B.M, & Roy, D. (2019). Robotized and automated warehouse systems: Review and recent developments. Transportation Science (Vol. 53, pp. 917–945). doi:10.1287/trsc.2018.0873