COMMENT: Cut risk through modular, flexible and robotics driven technology

Swisslog examines the use of modular warehouse equipment to mitigate long term business risk
Alain Kaddoum, general manager, Swisslog Middle East, Dubai.
Alain Kaddoum, general manager, Swisslog Middle East, Dubai.

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With technology rapidly advancing and evolving, now is the time to assess the available options in intralogistics management solutions that use Industry 4.0 technology, are modular, and mitigate long term business risks. Intralogistics is evolving from large, rigid systems into modular, flexible, and software-driven solutions – robot-supported and self-optimising.  Using technology such as CarryPick, PowerStore and ACPaQ can help businesses mitigate long term risk.   

Do you want your business to grow without having to make any changes to your building? CarryPick is a modular and flexible AGV storage and order picking system ideal for forward thinking companies.

CarryPick: a flexible solution for unique mobility 

When it comes to deploying automation technologies, although intriguing to many supply chain professionals, many do nothing, but end up spending more and ultimately lag behind in investing in state-of-the-art technology. The warehouse and picking system CarryPick was developed to boost employee productivity, provide scalability and drive substantial cost reductions. Even though highly automated, this goods-to-person system delivers the desired flexibility and adapts quickly and cost-efficiently to future business growth, thus being a completely scalable and forward-looking system.

The CarryPick mobile storage and picking system.

Unlike traditional warehouses with fixed racks, the modular CarryPick goods-to-person system completely organises the picking warehouse using mobile racks. Low-profile robot vehicles drive underneath the mobile racks and deliver them to workstations, where the requested items are picked and placed in the shipping boxes provided.

Floor space savings of 30 per cent or higher 

To maximise the picking rate per mobile rack, each picker is able to process a larger number of orders in parallel, assisted by lasers that illuminate the appropriate picking compartment on the mobile rack (pick to light). The workstations themselves are equipped with put-to-light technology – small lights let the picking employees know to which order a picked item belongs. Compared to traditional systems, the productivity of the employees at the workstation is considerably higher. At the same time, picking errors are virtually non-existent and floor space savings of 30 per cent and higher are made possible. 

Low initial investment – maximum flexibility 

The main benefit of the CarryPick system lies in its flexibility. If the product range changes, the rack structure can be modified accordingly. If the quantities to be processed change, the system can be flexibly extended. The initial equipment needed includes a basic number of mobile racks, at least one workstation, and a small number of ‘Carrier’robot vehicles. As shipping volumes increase or the product range grows, the CarryPick system can be extended with additional components such as racks, carriers or workstations. There is no need to make major up-front investments in systems whose full performance capacity will not yet be needed. 

CarryPick is easily integrated into legacy structures that normally would not have the space to support automation. The compact storage system, consisting of a workstation and mobile racks, can be installed in buildings with a ceiling height under three meters. 

CarryPick supports sustainability 

At Swisslog, sustainability is a top priority. CarryPick saves energy. Workplace regulations mandate that only the relatively small workstation areas be provided with heat and light. Any unmanned warehouse areas housing the mobile racks therefore do not need heat, lighting, or ventilation. 

Furthermore, CarryPick is a model of ergonomic workplace design. Employees in the warehouse concentrate mainly on their core abilities: see, touch, and pick. Pushing heavy picking carts over long distances becomes a thing of the past, leading to an improved working environment due to a higher levels of health and safety, allowing for a  broader range of people being capability of completing the required tasks. CarryPick provides a highly flexible solution that enables small to medium sized operations to access the benefits of goods to person technology without the investment in infrastructure required by higher throughout systems.. 

Do you want to maximise available floorspace, remain flexibility and increase throughput? PowerStore is a high-density pallet shuttle solution, ideal for warehouses with low ceilings and high throughput requirements.

PowerStore: increase capacity and maximise resource savings

The pallet shuttle system PowerStore provides reliable cost benefits and maximises resource savings. This innovative warehouse equipment boosts capacity, is suitable for high-density environments and can be used in deep-freeze environments. This technology allows businesses to be at the forefront of Industry 4.0 initiatives. 

PowerStore allows the storage of up to 60% more pallets in the same space.

The modularity of the PowerStore pallet shuttle system enables storage of up to 60% more pallets compared to manual systems. It can also be individually tailored for all shapes and sizes of warehouse buildings. The PowerStore pallet storage systems can be used in a wide range of environments, from -30°C in frozen food storage to 50°C. It can be used in buildings with unusual shapes. The modular design of the PowerStore system opens completely new possibilities for automation in existing warehouses. The system is also suitable for manufacturing businesses, especially those in the fast-moving consumer goods such as the food and beverage industry.

Unique and modular 

PowerStore is backed by over 40 years of global experience in optimising systems with high throughput and reliability. PowerStore’s control software is fully integrated in Swisslog’s SynQ suite of warehouse management software and is designed to work seamlessly with customers’ WMS and host systems. Furthermore, low-height carriers save storage space while still enabling industry-leading lift heights. This allows for normal pallet deflections and minimises the need for troubleshooting within the rack.

PowerStore is a compact pallet shuttle solution that contains vertical conveyors to utilise virtually every square metre of available space. The compact system supports storage depths of up to 20x per channel within a rack design. This rack design can have ten or more levels and adapts to virtually any building topography, accommodating existing support walls as well as multi-level and barrel roofs. 

At Pepsi Bottling Ventures (PBV), for example, PowerStore increased storage capacity by as much as 60%. 

Row and aisle carriers are used for pallet storage and retrieval. Vertical conveyors allow these carriers to be used on any rack level. At PBV, PowerStore’s high dynamics support 580 pallet operations (storage and retrieval) per hour. At the same time, customers benefit from state-of-the-art software control and energy-saving operations, thanks to advanced mechanical and electrical components from a manufacturing process that meets ISO 14001 and emphasises environmentally friendly product design. 

Powerstore provides a solution that is focussed on delivering the horsepower required by high throughput operations whilst maximsing storage density to enable you to meet the business challenges of responding to the increasing demands of your customers in the smallest footprint possible.

Do you need a mixed case palletizing solution that is fast, reliable and able to grow with your business? ACPaQ is a fully-automated, robotic and data-driven solution for store-friendly pallets.

A fully automated way for creating mixed pallets 

ACPaQ will automate one of the most important areas of intralogistics operations: creating customised mixed pallets for individual stores from single-SKU pallets. ACPaQ is universally applicable for fully automated order picking of mixed case pallets. 

Store-friendly pallets are automatically built in distribution centres using the combination of proven technology, such as the CycloneCarrier case or tote shuttle system, conveyor systems and high performance de-palletising and palletising robots. It is configured using modules and scalable for small, mid-size and large distribution centres handling up to 500,000 cases per day. This innovative palletising system has a highly modular design and enables a fully automated process controlled by the SynQ warehouse management software which, compared to traditional methods, doubles or even triples the speed of picking cartons in distribution centres based on store layout, item groups or item classes. 

The CycloneCarrier is a fast and efficient shuttle system.

The palletising software allows you to customise the palletising order to increase efficiency during in-store replenishment. ACPaQ can be used in ambient temperature and chilled warehouse zones, and can handle almost all types of cartons, shrink wrapped or foiled packages, and pallet types used in retail & beverage industries.

ACPaQ provides fast and reliable automated mixed-case palletising.

At the core of ACPaQ is the robot cell featuring (RowPaQ) a state-of-the-art 5-axis jointed-arm KUKA robot. It is equipped with a flexible gripper with adjustable forks that allows it to pick up as many as four cartons at a time, even if they don’t have the same dimensions or weight. A RowPaQ cell is capable of setting down up to 1,000 cartons per hour in the exact location predefined by the palletising software. It is completely scalable and additional RowPaQ cells can be added one cell at a time to the system to increase throughput as required. 

Networking new and proven technologies 

Robot-based palletising builds on an intelligently organised process. Before cartons can be palletised in sequence, they are first separated  and stored temporarily in the highly dynamic CycloneCarrier case shuttle system. Even before the warehouse management system issues the palletising order, Swisslog’s software autonomously performs a complex calculation process based on product parameters and business rules to determine the best way to load the pallet. The cartons are then transported in the exact sequence from storage to the RowPaQ cell. After palletising is complete, it is shrink-wrapped and transported via conveyor directly to the right shipping station.