Visitors to the CeMAT exhibition in Hannover (19-23 May) will get a taste of the startling efficiency and speed at which robots can handle a variety of goods. Cimcorp will demonstrate how its gantry robot technology – proven within car tyre factories and postal sorting centres – is now proving its worth in food retail and e-commerce warehouses.
Centre stage on the stand of the Finnish robotics specialist (G23 in hall 27) will be Cimcorp 3D Shuttle™, the company’s innovative goods-to-person picking solution. The simple addition of a shuttle device to an overhead gantry has made Cimcorp’s robotic technology suitable for the storage and retrieval of totes required for order picking – opening up the burgeoning grocery and e-commerce sectors to the enormous potential of robotic handling.
With the robot placing retrieved totes on the shuttle for transfer – along the gantry – to the outfeed conveyor and then the picking stations, the robot can move directly to its next task. In fact, with one third fewer robotic movements than a conventional overhead gantry system, Cimcorp 3D Shuttle™ allows a massive 80% of system time to be dedicated to the task of feeding totes to the picking staff, enabling Cimcorp 3D Shuttle™ to make order picking six times more efficient than a manual solution.
The benefits of Cimcorp 3D Shuttle™ really do stack up. Explains Paula Ovaskainen, Marketing Manager, "Rapid handling combined with ergonomic order picking means that clients can fulfil a greater number of orders per shift, with precise sequencing of totes ensuring fulfilment accuracy. Unlike other automated picking systems," continues Paula Ovaskainen, "Cimcorp 3D Shuttle™ needs no racking – saving both cost and space, as well as avoiding the need for fire sprinkler systems." Other advantages include an excellent ratio of cost to storage capacity; easy cleaning due to the simplicity of floor-based storage, accessed from above; and the fact that goods can be received and dispatched in the same totes, whether standard or bespoke. In addition, the modularity of the concept allows Cimcorp 3D Shuttle™ to adapt to changes in order structure, inventory scale, throughput and seasonal fluctuations.
While Cimcorp 3D Shuttle™ is the ideal solution for e-commerce applications and for ambient and non-food goods in the grocery sector, fresh produce has slightly different logistics needs that make Cimcorp’s MultiPick® robots the ideal solution. Some of these fresh applications – such as for dairy and bakery goods – are suited to full automation, where MultiPick® gantry robots take care of the entire intralogistics. An example is the solution currently being installed at the new dairy facility of US retail giant, The Kroger Co., in Denver.
Islands of automation
Many fresh produce applications – whether fruit, vegetables, meat or other chilled foods – are not suitable for total automation. They are, however, suited to what Cimcorp calls ‘islands of automation’. These are zones of robotic automation within facilities that also have manual operations or different automated technologies. The islands are self-sufficient – taking care of material flows from goods-in to dispatch – and ensure rapid and accurate order preparation, shorter lead-times, customization of picking rules to ensure shelf-ready replenishment, full tracking and tracing, space optimisation and the ability to clean the floor area hygienically. Cimcorp has supplied such a system at Mercadona’s new distribution centre at Guadix, Spain.