Increased productivity and happier associates at Barrett Distribution Centers

3rd Generation Family Owned Business Leverages New Automation To Increase Productivity & Employee Retention

Barrett Distribution Centers is a third party logistics (3PL) provider established in Massachusetts in 1941. It has grown to a family-owned network of warehouse facilities operating in the United States and Canada. Supporting a variety of regional and national customers, Barrett warehouses encompass more than 3 million square feet. They facilitate the movement of practically everything from consumer packaged goods and on-demand auto parts to the varied products of online retailers.

As e-commerce has become a larger portion of Barrett’s business model, they’ve had to adapt to shorter cycle times and higher order volume. In addition, like other 3PLs, they face the challenges of warehouse worker retention and struggle to find quality labor to support their operations.

“6 River Systems’ software and their collaborative robot Chuck has increased our productivity, reduced error rates 50 percent, and reduced training times to a matter of hours.”

Lewis Frazer
SVP, Barrett Distribution Centers

 

“6 River Systems’ software and their collaborative robot Chuck has increased our productivity, reduced error rates 50 percent, and reduced training times to a matter of hours.”

Lewis Frazer
SVP, Barrett Distribution Centers

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Managing peak season

With some customers doing 50% of their business during the Black Friday to Christmas period, Barrett needed a way to increase productivity while attracting and retaining associates.

Barrett partnered with 6 River Systems to meet their customer service level agreements. The 6 River Systems solution includes autonomous robots ( “Chuck”) and a cloud-based software solution that intelligently groups orders together to maximize task density and optimize worker productivity.

Chuck comes in a variety of configurations, with up to 2,900 in2 (2 m2) of workspace. Slots on the workspace can be configured a number of different ways to accommodate various operational needs. The robots collaborate with workers by guiding them through warehouse tasks. They facilitate tote induction and then lead associates through the picking process from bin location, item identification and confirmation, to job completion.

Keeping pace with growth

Collaborative robots have more than doubled the productivity of Barrett’s pickers. With the robots, Barrett can route work in a more sophisticated way so their pickers walk less and are picking more lines per hour.

Employees say the bots help with retention and they know bots aren't here to replace but to help them. Operations leadership like the flexibility of the new way of automation which allows them to spot deploy robots to different facilities as customer demands surge and contract.

Why do associates like the system?

It’s because Chuck:

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Optimizes the picking route to reduce walking.


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Carries the totes, keeping associates hands-free.


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Confirms picks and indicates which container to put items into.


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Provides context specific reason codes which makes exception handling a breeze.