Packaging: Robot arm lifts cases, reduces damage
Consumers these days want what they want, how they want it, when they want it. So, to meet the demand and gain market share, especially in the highly competitive beverage market with the number of SKUs constantly growing and order profiles constantly changing, a leading beverage manufacturer needed an order fulfillment, palletizing and distribution strategy that delivered on all fronts.
This beverage manufacturer in the southeastern United States has created an overall strategy that delivers warehouse cost savings, reduces system-wide inventory, and creates a flexible environment that adapts to changing market demands. A major part of that strategy focused on its complex pallet building requirements and the need for daily sales orders to be picked and loaded within an 8- to 12-hour window.
The company installed a new automated solution that integrates pallet-building lines (KUKA Systems), and has provided a major increase in throughput over manual operations. The system can process 5,000 cases per hour, a rate that is about six times the volume palletized manually. It features an automated high-speed layer-picking system, as well as a layer-forming and mixed palletizing cell. The mixed palletizing cell features a layer pick head on a robot arm that lifts cases from underneath, reducing the risk of product damage.
Not only can the automated pallet-building line handle large volumes, it ensures greater order fulfillment accuracy and less manual lifting for the manufacturer.
“By combining the layer-picking and mixed layer-building technology with strategic order sequencing logic, our system is able to handle peak volume while optimally building and staging pallets for loading onto trucks,” a company spokesperson says. “The equipment’s overall design of layer picking and layer-forming provides a system that works intuitively, reliably and accurately, which is the goal of any world-class automated order-picking system in the logistics world.”