Subscribe to our free, weekly email newsletter!


Mobile robots provide flexible courier services

Autonomous system supports transition to lean manufacturing.
By Josh Bond, Associate Editor
October 02, 2012

In 2005, Otis expanded its Lyons Falls, N.Y., operation by opening a 43,000-square-foot manufacturing facility. The project offered the opportunity to reassess manual materials handling practices by evaluating each process to improve efficiencies, increase accuracy and eliminate waste throughout the building. An autonomous mobile robot system with just three units saved nearly 100 labor hours per day, boosting safety, savings and accuracy.

At the new facility, product must safely move from random origin to random destination, undaunted by obstructions, machinery and people. The system is comprised of three mobile robots, automatic battery charging stations, wireless “call” buttons, and an interface computer. Each production station features a wireless robot call button. When the call is received, the central computer uses a dispatch algorithm to select the appropriate vehicle for the task and then wirelessly sends the dispatch instruction to the selected vehicle. Once given the destination and task, the vehicle is free to autonomously navigate through the facility.

At an operator station, the robot is manually loaded with product and then assigned delivery locations with an onboard keypad interface. The operator can select any destination in the building from a pick list, or choose to send some of the load to a first destination and the remainder of the load to a second destination. En route, the robots monitor the state of their batteries and, if time permits, will automatically stop at one of the opportunity charging stations for a rapid top-off taking just 30 to 45 seconds.

Before the implementation of the new system, the only handling solution capable of accomplishing the task was manual labor. Otis is now able to save 94.2 labor hours per day and has improved on-time deliveries from a success rate of 85% to 99.92%. With better visibility into the management of inventory, the company has already seen savings of more than $2 million dollars.

RMT Robotics
905-643-9700
http://www.rmtrobotics.com

Read more from the 2013 Casebook.

About the Author

image
Josh Bond
Associate Editor

Josh Bond is an associate editor to Modern. Josh was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and contributing editor, has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce.


Subscribe to Modern Materials Handling magazine

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Find out what the world’s most innovative companies are doing to improve productivity in their plants and distribution centers.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Recent Entries

This complimentary white paper addresses areas of potential benefit to a grocery distributor considering an investment in automated case picking technology.

In 2015, a new era in shipment pricing will go into effect when major carriers implement dimensional ("dim") weight pricing for all ground packages regardless of their size. This complimentary white paper, "Dimensional Weight: Don't Let it Weigh You Down", can help you optimize your packaging operation to minimize the financial impacts of dimensional weight pricing.

Replacing older, less-efficient lift trucks at the right time can reduce your maintenance costs, improve your productivity and, most importantly, save money and maximize your return on investment. So how do you determine the right time to make a new, significant purchase? Download this complimentary white paper for guidance on how to determine the ideal time to replace lift trucks and how planned replacement can benefit your operation.

The prolonged operating hours of automated distribution operations leave limited time for maintenance. For tightly-scheduled fulfillment operations, unplanned downtime not only cuts into slim profit margins, it jeopardizes future business and customer loyalty. Download this complimentary white paper to learn five mission-critical benefits of implementing a resident maintenance program.

Debut of Pharma EXPO plays crucial role in increase.



© Copyright 2013 Peerless Media LLC, a division of EH Publishing, Inc • 111 Speen Street, Ste 200, Framingham, MA 01701 USA