6 Common Material Transport Workflows Immediately Transformed by Automated Warehouse Carts
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Manual material transport has been a standard practice within 3PL warehouses and manufacturing facilities for decades. Even with the progression of industrial automation over the past century, multi-purpose utility carts have remained the go-to tool for material transport assignments.
With the rapid growth of ecommerce, warehouses have expanded significantly in size along with the distances materials must travel — all while lead times have gotten shorter, delivery expectations have increased, and a labor shortage continues.
As a result of these changes in the landscape, manned travel is no longer as efficient as it once was. Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) have helped bridge the gap, but the infrastructure changes they require (installation of wires, tape, magnets, etc. to create fixed pathways) limits their flexibility and hinders their ability to fully address the issues.
How the Market Has Reacted
Today, innovative 3PLs and manufacturers seeking an efficiency edge have turned to CartConnect from Fetch Robotics. Powered by the Fetch Cloud Robotics Platform for On-Demand Automation, CartConnect automatically picks up, transports, and drops off specially designed rolling industrial utility carts called FetchCarts without the need to follow a pre-fixed path.
CartConnect is flexible enough to deploy in any facility, for any workflow. It’s up and running just hours after unboxing and it’s certified safe to work alongside people, forklifts, and other modern material handling equipment. With a payload of up to 77 kilograms and a simple-to-use, web-based user interface that requires zero programming experience or knowledge, CartConnect significantly reduces manned travel time, walking distance, and overall order cycle time within 3PL and manufacturing facilities.
Several examples of workflows that CartConnect can automate include:
Receiving to Forward Pick
When bulk goods arrive at receiving for breakdown, fast and efficient material transport to forward pick is key to efficiency, especially when the bulk contains Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) or components for kitting and assembly. CartConnect accelerates receiving to storage workflows as well. The faster goods are moved from the receiving floor to staging or permanent storage, the less congested your warehouse is.
Key Benefits of CartConnect: 1) Saves movement and travel time and 2) clears up traffic congestion, and 3) potentially reduces overtime pay.
Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) Induction
In many existing operations, a material handler is still required to pick components from inventory shelves, place them into totes, and transport them to a conveyor induction point hundreds of meters away. An existing workflow like this benefits greatly from the introduction of CartConnect, which automatically picks up and drops off payloads for induction, therefore cutting down on travel time and increasing the number of picks a facility associate can perform. CartConnect can deliver the same benefits when items are removed from ASRSs for distribution to kitting, assembly, dispatch or any other area of your facility.
Key Benefits of CartConnect: 1) Saves movement and travel time, 2) increases picking productivity, and 3) is easy to introduce to existing workflows.
Storage to Kitting
Bundling and merging of SKUs in a kitting area prior to shipping is a popular Value Added Service (VAS) provided by many 3PLs. In factory settings, manufacturing kitting carts are used for transporting multiple smaller components to sub-assembly. In either instance, material transport from storage to to kitting can easily be completed by a fleet of CartConnect robots, allowing warehouse associates to focus on higher-level tasks.
Key Benefits of CartConnect:1) Saves movement and travel time, 2) increases VAS upsell margins, 3) streamlines production, and 4) allows personnel to focus on higher level tasks and activities.
Returns to Refurbishment, Defective Parts
In 3PL environments, after breakdown, returns can be forwarded to decanting/repair using CartConnect. For even more efficiency, once inventory is refurbished and ready for resale, CartConnect robots can then transport refurbished goods to a production line before their journey back to the customer retail market is complete. In manufacturing environments, this same workflow using CartConnect can streamline the transportation of defective units to quality assurance.
Key Benefits of CartConnect: 1) Saves movement and travel time, 2) streamlines transportation flow associated with refurbishment programs and 3) optimizes quality management processes.
Reserve Storage to Dispatch Area
When a customer receives the wrong product or a VIP client needs something fast, 3PL warehouses and manufacturing floors can quickly descend into a race to where runners rush to find what’s needed from reserve storage and have it ready for shipment before the cut-off for overnight mail. To streamline these inevitable circumstances, a CartConnect robot can serve as a dedicated resource for rush orders.
Key Benefits of CartConnect: 1) Saves movement and travel time, 2) streamlines rush order fulfillment, and 3) allows runners to focus on higher-level tasks.
Floorstock to Line Replenishment
A common scenario in manufacturing facilities, production lines typically require replenishment of consumables such as screws, labels, and more, multiple times per day. To avoid production rates taking a hit, a CartConnect robot can be dispatched ASAP to a stocking location on a manufacturing floor and serve as a dedicated resource for delivering totes filled with these non-inventory components to keep the trains running on time.
Key Benefits of CartConnect: 1) Saves movement and travel time, 2) provides consistent replenishment and, 3) production lines run uninterrupted.
Getting Started with CartConnect
CartConnect from Fetch Robotics is a productivity-boosting warehouse automation solution that accelerates material handling workflows in your facility. If you would like to learn more about how Fetch Robotics’ CartConnect solution improves productivity and efficiency while working alongside people, forklifts, and other material handling machinery, check out the links below.
As warehouse robots have become more common, questions around how to deploy them and what kind of value they deliver are natural and expected. If you are at the very beginning of your robotic automation journey and are not sure where to start, we are ready to help.
Fetch Robotics offers pre-sale consulting services to help identify workflows that will ensure you achieve maximum productivity once deployed. We can evaluate a selected segment of your operation, or your entire business model, and determine exactly how deployment of CartConnect can improve efficiency in your facility and lower your costs. Schedule a consultation with one of our solution experts today.
Learn More About How Fetch Robotics’ Solutions Improve Throughput, Efficiency & Productivity, While Working Alongside People: