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E-commerce Poses New Automation Challenges

17 Aug 2021 | BY ANNE MARIE MOHAN, AUTOMATIONWORLD

Providing greater flexibility specifically for the growing e-commerce market are two new technologies—a multi-pick EOAT from Material Handling Systems, Inc. (MHS), and an AI- (Artificial Intelligence) powered picking solution from Plus One Robotics and Fanuc America.

According to MHS, today’s e-commerce landscape pushes supply chains to meet faster service levels and overcome labor challenges in the face of intense cost pressures. “The robotic multi-pick uses technology to help companies reduce dependency on a shaky labor pool, control costs, and boost output,” it explains.

Unlike robotic picking systems that handle a single item to fill one order at a time, the multi-pick robotic end effector can pick up and hold up to 36 items simultaneously and pack four orders at a time into four shipping boxes. This enables the end effector to act as an on-demand buffer per Lean Manufacturing best practices, a task typically reserved for accumulation conveyors or other automated components in an order fulfillment process.

Working as part of a goods-to-robot fulfillment system, the robot offers a throughput rate of 90,000 pieces picked and 42,000 orders fulfilled per day.

From Plus One and Fanuc is a flexible fulfillment system that incorporates a Fanuc robot and  Plus One’s PickOne perception system, which identifies, singulates, and sorts a range of conveyable items, without the need for traditional vision training. Powered by AI, the system can adapt to variations in product material, size, and shape, as well as intermixed, random delivery. If any exceptions occur, Plus One’s Yonder human-in-the-loop function notifies a “Crew Chief” who can remotely manage the exception, minimizing the interruption and providing seamless sustained automatic operation.  

Says Fanuc, combined with one of its high-performance industrial robots, the fulfillment system can outperform a comparable manual operation. “Users benefit from shorter pick times and better order accuracy, inventory security, higher productivity, reduced operating expenses, and improved ergonomics,” the company explains. 

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ARTICLE BY AutomationWorld

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