Thursday, August 2, 2007

Running Robots

I saw a video of some new technology installed in one of Staples' fulfillment centers. The technology was impressive. I've seen some amazing automation but this may be the most impressive.

I've included a recent article excerpt on the techology, click the link for the full article.

Staples’ robotic retrievers offer new take on break-pack picking
By Corinne Kator, Associate Editor -- 7/1/2007

Each picking. Piece picking. Split-case picking. Whatever they call it, most companies find picking and shipping individual items hard to do cost effectively.

Staples—the world’s largest office products company—is no exception. There, picking individual items to fill online and catalog orders is known as break-pack picking. And, according to Roger Will, vice president of transportation and logistics planning and engineering, it’s a challenge.

“The break-pack pick module is the pinch-point in throughput in our DCs,” he says.

Staples uses pick-to-light systems in a few of its break-pack operations, but most of the company’s facilities, including the one in its 500,000 square foot Chambersburg, Pa., facility, are conventional pick-and-pass operations:

paper lists direct picking in the facilities’ pick modules, and
conveyor lines carry away finished orders for shipping.
The Chambersburg facility is one of the best in the Staples network, says Will, but when it was time to expand the break-pack picking operation there last fall, Staples decided not to add more pick modules and conveyor.

Instead, the company installed a radically different fulfillment system in which robots bring inventory to order pickers.

2 comments: said...

Just a matter of time before they handle inventory management.

Phil said...

Thank goodness. I need the help