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Tag: robotics

Next stop, Chicago! Intelligrated brings comprehensive automated solutions to PACK EXPO

It’s an exciting time of year in Chicago. Thanks to the World Series, Wrigley Field has taken over as the city’s epicenter in the north, but the Near South Side is primed to take center stage next week as McCormick Place hosts PACK EXPO International 2016.

From Nov. 6-9, attendees from more than 130 countries will find the latest solutions designed for today’s most influential challenges facing packaging and processing operations: constantly changing consumer demands, pressure to do more with less, labor challenges and advances in technology. At booth S-3666 in the south hall, Intelligrated will highlight high-throughput automation solutions, seamless integration capabilities and lifecycle support services.

The in-booth, live demonstration will feature the company’s new Alvey® 891i palletizer and a robotic depalletizing cell, integrated with vertical reciprocating conveyor and motor driven roller (MDR) conveyor. The solutions on display are ideal for food, beverage and consumer packaged goods operations with reduced or eliminated secondary packaging. This requires equipment capable of handling everything from display cases and polywrapped bundles to paper-board overwrap packs and more.

The Alvey 891i palletizer provides exceptional versatility and maintainability,  thanks to an updated user-friendly design. Ideal for both single and multi-line operations, this high-level, row-forming palletizer manages intricate stacking patterns and handles packaged food, beverage, converted paper and personal care products. The 891i also includes enhanced features for improved safety, ease of use and maintenance.

Intelligrated is recognized by the Robotic Industries Association as a certified robot integrator, and offers end-of-arm tooling designed and built in-house to handle a variety of applications and product types. This flexibility allows for quick product changeovers, frequent packaging changes and can handle single cases, rows or layers.

The vertical reciprocating conveyor offers a simple, cost effective solution to move cartons and totes in a compact footprint. The scalable solution offers  user-configurable input and discharge heights, and industry leading speed to match each operation’s unique requirements. 

Representatives from Intelligrated Lifecycle Support Services will offer advice to maximize return on material handling investments and keep critical systems running smoothly. Mechanical and risk assessments form the backbone of proactive lifecycle management and offer proven solutions to improve safety, system longevity and efficiency.

Stop by Intelligrated booth S-3666 to see the automation solutions that leading manufacturers depend on to exceed expectations for reliability, throughput and flexibility.

To schedule a meeting at the show, email info@intelligrated.com. Multilingual booth support in Spanish and French will be available.

Intelligrated, now part of Honeywell, invites you to also visit their booth in Upper Lakeside Center, E-7441, for workflow productivity solutions that optimize manufacturing and warehouse operations, and embedded sensors and controls that help keep teams safe and productive.

I look forward to seeing you at PACK EXPO International 2016

Six key considerations when choosing a palletizing strategy

We recently presented an On The Move webinar called "Conquering palletizing challenges in manufacturing and warehouse environments." One of the most interesting aspects of our webinars is the ability to poll the audience during the presentation and learn more about their operations and preferences. To kick off this webinar, we asked the audience what palletizing method they were currently using. Surprisingly, the majority of attendees were either using manual palletizing procedures (42 percent) or none at all (42 percent). The remainder of the polling group were equally distributed between conventional and robotic palletizing.

These results reveal something that we know all too well: that the importance of palletizing in manufacturing and warehouse operations is something that's often overlooked. Inadequate palletizing processes create a ripple effect throughout the facility's operations that ultimately jeopardize customer commitments and have a direct impact on the bottom line. So, to make sure you're selecting the correct palletizing strategy for your operation, we presented the following six key considerations:

1. Palletizing and line efficiency. The impact of palletizer downtime on operating performance has a direct impact on a facility's overall efficiency. It's important to think of the palletizing function as part of the overall production or distribution system, with inefficiencies causing backups to the whole operation. The speed of your operation plays an important role in the palletizing selection.

2. Packaging trends create new challenges. Less packaging, more fragile materials, smaller items and more totes are changing the palletizing landscape. In some cases, the pallet itself is becoming the consumer display method. All of these factors can dramatically affect stacking patterns and pallet stability.

3. Explosion in the number of SKUs. E-commerce has increased the variety of case and pack sizes, including large packs for club stores and small packs for convenience. This variance requires a palletizer capable of rapid, tool-less changeover to continually adapt. 

4. Changing load configurations. End-of-aisle display loads, "label out" preferences and reduced pack strength all impact how pallet loads are constructed. Palletizers must enable frequent pattern revisions and incorporate various options to shore up load strength, such as: shorter loads, stretch film, tier sheets, trays and cap sheets, and corner boards.

5. Increasingly stringent safety requirements. Deploying a palletizing solution in your facility requires careful consideration of applicable safety standards. Robotic and automated solutions must adhere to CAT 3 control system requirements. 

6. Labor market challenges. The dwindling pool of qualified workers, increasing minimum wages, high turnover rate in manual palletizing functions and the potential for injury are all reasons to consider an automated palletizing solution. 

With all of these factors to consider, the next topic we discussed in the webinar was the different palletizing solutions available - from high-speed row-forming and inline conventional machines to robotic and hybrid solutions. If it's time to consider a change to your palletizing strategy, please visit the webinar library on our website and view this presentation in its entirety. Then, consult with one of our palletizing experts to determine what the best solution is for your operations.

Cut labor costs and increase efficiency with robotic tote handling

Totes are used for e-commerce fulfillment, kitting, order consolidation, packing and other processes that leverage traditional material handling equipment, but quite often tote stacking and de-stacking are left to manual operations. The rigid structure of totes enables AS/RS, conveyor, sortation and other automated equipment to easily route them securely through material handling processes, and their design and size provide the flexibility to accommodate a wide range of products and primary packaging types.

From manual to automation: A fast track to efficiency

Recirculating totes back through automated systems or building pallet loads typically requires manual intervention, with employees bending, lifting and twisting to stack them. This type of arduous, repetitive task carries the risk of injury, and a lack of labor availability combined with high turnover rates means operations cannot rely on manual tote handling to deliver consistent efficient results.

An automated tote handling solution offers a much higher level of overall efficiency. Robotic tote handling delivers increased reliability, higher throughput, reduced long-term costs and ergonomic improvements that enhance workplace safety. From an operational standpoint, the increased speed of an automated solution enables operations to carry reduced tote inventory and use a smaller footprint for tote stacking and palletizing.

Advanced robotic tooling makes it possible

With the number of tote types and configurations, flexible, customizable end-of-arm tooling enables robotic solutions tailored to handle unique tote requirements. These can accommodate fluctuations in size, shape and weight to seamlessly handle totes in a variety of applications, from end-of-line palletizing to stacking in preparation for new fulfillment cycles. 

Flexible end of arm tooling can also handle other types of packaging and execute other tasks. Taking advantage of this modularity enables operations to maximize the utility from robotic systems and increase ROI. 

To learn more about robotic tooling best-suited to handle the products and packaging types in your operation, read the Intelligrated white paper, Picking the best robotic tooling for palletizing.

Latest On The Move webinar explores the potential of shuttles in the DC

The evolution of item picking in order fulfillment has taken giant steps toward automation in recent decades. Today's AS/RS, shuttle and robotics technologies have the potential to deliver revolutionary throughput advances. We are now in an e-commerce era where traditional fulfillment methodologies struggle to keep up with proliferating SKUs and escalating order volumes. But these advances come with a cost, and making the move toward shuttles and robotics requires a clear justification of the investment. In our most recent On The Move webinar, titled "Shuttles: The new face of the DC workforce," I examined this evolution and discussed the factors involved with making the transition to shuttle system efficiencies. 

To put things into the proper context, I began the webinar with an anology that illustrates the difference between traditional operator-to-goods (OTG), manual warehouse fulfillment methodologies and the goods-to-operator (GTO) philosophy employed by shuttle systems:

  • OTG is akin to a visit to the grocery store, where shoppers traverse from aisle to aisle to find the goods they're looking for
  • GTO is similar to a visit to the dry cleaner, where the item is delivered automatically to the stationary cashier via a carousel system

OTG fulfillment strategies are characterized by labor-intensive processes that can lead to time wasted walking and result in pick rates of approximately 250 items per hour. While OTG requires a low capital investment due to the absence of advanced automation technology, onging labor resources lead to high operating costs.

Although 99 percent of fulfillment operations today still utilize OTG processes, there are compelling factors driving the move toward GTO methods and the adoption of AS/RS and shuttle technology:

  • Rising minimum wage
  • Aging baby boomer generation and lack of qualified workforce 
  • Shuttles provide much higher throughput (1,000/hr)
  • Improved scalability, and layout and application flexibility

Generally speaking, GTO requires the presence of an AS/RS system with a stationary operator, and thus a relatively higher capital investment than OTG strategies. But when you factor in the labor savings, higher pick rates and the elimination of wasteful walking, GTO significantly reduces operating costs.

Continuing along the specturum of automation technologies, I introduced the concept of humanless warehousing, or goods-to-robot (GTR) fulfillment. While GTR also requires AS/RS shuttles, a robot performs the actual item picking at the point of fulfillment. As a result, GTR holds the promise of continuous productivity (with no breaks) while completely eliminating labor. GTR is an ideal fit for single-item picking and packing as SKUs proliferate and DCs strives for maintaining lean inventories. This sophisticated automation architecture requires the highest capital investment, yet results in the lowest operating costs. 

It's also important to understand the relationship between capacity and throughput in selecting a shuttle or automation technology, from unit-load and mini-load to carousel and shuttle systems. As the amount of storage space or throughput speed increase, these different technologies have unique applicability.

Finally, I closed the webinar by demonstrating the flexibility and efficiency of Intelligrated shuttle systems and how AS/RS is ideal for high-volume operators with high-turn storage and short order cycle times. To learn how to integrate shuttle systems in your DC operators, please visit the Intelligrated website to view this webinar in its entirety. 

Visit MODEX 2016 to learn what matters in distribution and fulfillment

Next week, Intelligrated heads to Atlanta, Georgia for MODEX 2016. Attendees will find Intelligrated solutions to maximize throughput, accuracy and ROI in booths #2747 and #2737 at "the greatest supply chain show on earth", April 4-7 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Intelligrated will feature several new technologies delivering speed, accuracy and product-handling flexibility, including patented dynamic discharge compensation (DDC) technology for IntelliSort® cross-belt sorters that ensures precise diverts and minimizes jams, recirculations and manual touches. DDC is recognized as a finalist in the 2016 MHI Innovation Award competition for "best innovation of an existing product." Featured IntelliSort sliding shoe sortation includes "soft touch" divert technology that provides high-speed carton control and accuracy, enabling the widest range of conveyables and highest capacity throughput.

The Intelligrated booth will also have demos showcasing advanced robotic and shuttle solutions for the endless aisle challenges that retail operations currently face. In the fully automated picking demonstration, Intelligrated's automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) integrates with a robotic arm to illustrate advancements in each picking technology.

The Intelligrated Software booth will showcase a robust suite of fulfillment technologies. Learn about our current warehouse execution system (WES) that provides the necessary components to enable accurate, high-velocity fulfillment processes throughout the DC.

Visitors will learn how Intelligrated Voice™ provides hands-free picking and putting to drastically increase order fulfillment productivity. Also on display, Intelligrated's GoalPost® Labor Management Software (LMS) demonstrates on-demand intelligence used to measure, manage and plan warehouse labor for increased efficiency and facility performance. The interactive light-directed fulfillment technology demos illustrate improvements in operator accuracy and picking and putting efficiencies for a wide range of operations. Additionally, visitors will learn how Intelligrated Store Solutions combines the accuracy of Voice technology and the insight of LMS to capture transactional data bringing DC-like accuracy, efficiency and predictability to in-store processes.

Finally, Intelligrated's Lifecycle Support Services (LSS) will introduce the Intelligrated Reliability Intelligence Solution™ (IRIS), a computerized maintenance management software program designed to manage everything from work orders to inventory to budgeting. LSS representatives will be available to discuss proactive lifecycle management and solutions to assist with regulatory compliance. 

Intelligrated will be doing several short in-booth thought leadership presentations, along with two educational seminars:

10 steps to improve operational efficiency 
Tuesday, April 5 at noon in MODEX Theater E

Robotics in the warehouse 
Wednesday, April 6 at 10:30 a.m. in MODEX Theater A

If you have not yet registered for the show, click here to sign up for a free attendee badge. 

We are excited to showcase a wide range of automated solutions at MODEX 2016 and look forward to seeing you at one of the largest material handling shows this year. 

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The information you provide is solely used by Intelligrated. Intelligrated will not distribute email addresses to third party organizations. For more information, please read our Privacy Information.