Fulfilling birthday wishes from the warehouse
Top-ten 3PL slashes new hire training time by 10 days
Doubles pick rates and improves order accuracy to 99.9%
Warehouses workers help bring birthdays to life. And no one knows this better than Jill. She doesn’t know Frankie, but she’s learned a lot about the little boy through picking his birthday order. Nine keychains, nine sets of boys pajamas and party plates and cups — could it be a boy’s birthday sleepover? Jill feels the weight of her work. Get it done right, get it done fast. Because right now Jill isn’t just fulfilling orders — she’s granting wishes.
Short-staffed and struggling with a challenging labor market
Jill is a warehouse associate at a top-10 global third-party logistics provider that ships merchandise out of an approximately 50,000 square-foot space in the southern U.S. Items picked, packed and shipped range in size from keychains to teddy bears. Jill’s job isn’t easy. She grappled with the following issues that impacted order fulfillment each day:
Labor shortages. Situated in the hotbed of the warehousing industry, this 3PL struggled to hire associates to meet its growing demand. Managers constantly sought to fill vacant positions. They saw 6RS as a solution to help them get the most out of their existing workforce.
Inaccurate orders. Prior to using 6RS, this 3PL used a manual system comprised of paper tickets and push carts. This hurt their accuracy, leading to expensive and time-consuming re-work to correct orders during the packing process. They needed 6RS to help them cut down on errors and increase the service levels of their operation.
Introducing Chuck, a collaborative robot that leads your warehouse associate
Chuck is a turn-key, drop-in replacement for cart picking. Chucks communicate directly with the Collaborative Fulfillment System (CFS), a scalable, cloud-based server that coordinates all work on the floor. The CFS integrates to the site’s existing Warehouse Management System (WMS) so that Chuck can be used throughout the warehouse.
Once the associate badges in, Chuck leads them, showing important task information — item image, description, quantity, location, etc. - on a display the size of a tablet. This keeps associates on task, spending less time searching for items. Chuck lights up to indicate which side of the aisle to pick from and which order container to place the item into.
Chuck’s high-powered, mounted scanner captures all necessary product information, including lot and serial number, in a single scan - allowing operators to pick hands-free. Work is prioritized by the system and assigned to associates through intelligent algorithms that maximize productivity and utilization — like Google Maps for your warehouse.
Live in 4 weeks
An agile, cost-effective fulfillment system vs. traditional automation
Before choosing to work with us, this 3PL considered a proposal from a traditional warehouse automation provider, which quoted them at five times the cost of 6RS and five months to go live. They became interested in the 6RS fulfillment solution because of its flexibility of deployment: they needed a product that could get to work fast within its existing infrastructure.
6RS is a drop-in replacement for cart picking, and an alternative to yesterday’s anchored-down automation, like conveyors, AS/RS and goods-to-person robots. Chuck requires no additional warehouse infrastructure and integrates easily with any WMS. Prior to deployment, the 6RS Solutions team worked with the 3PL’s senior operations managers and floor supervisors to build a system that team leads could easily train pickers on. The initial deployment took 4 weeks, including integration and testing. Additional Chucks were required for peak season. They were delivered and up and running in a matter of days.
Milestones: the 7-week snapshot
2.3M UNITS PICKED
Prior to our solution, the site’s baseline productivity was 63 UPH. With the Chucks up and running, they increased productivity to 127 UPH and this rate keeps increasing each day. This has led to reduced overtime costs and better fulfillment of customers’ service-level agreements. The 3PL picked approximately 2.3 million units in seven weeks.
99.9% ACCURACY RATE
Mistakes cost time and money. In conversations with the floor supervisors, 6RS learned that prior to deploying, the site struggled with order accuracy. Correcting mispicks is an expensive process because it increases the average time it takes to get orders out and pulls already barebones staff away from tasks on hand. Mispicks can cost an average of $22 per mistake, and, if they’re not caught in a verification process, they can lead to unhappy customers and damaged brands.
With 6RS in place, the 3PL created a picking process that puts verification first. The 3PL moved off of a manual, paper-based process to one that includes scanning at the beginning, instead of just the final stages of the picking process.
1 day vs. 2 weeks
Prior to 6RS, new hire training took two weeks. With 6RS, new associates were out on the floor on day 1 picking and achieving 80 percent of their target pick rates.
Why is onboarding with 6RS so easy?
It’s because Chuck:
Meets associates and leads them through the picking process, directing them to sequential pick locations in an optimized manner. This eliminates the need to memorize layouts and paces them through their work.
Displays a picture of the item to be picked, quantity and the pick location during transition between tasks. This significantly improves rates.
Once a pick is confirmed using a high-precision image scanner, Chuck uses lights to indicate which container to place the item into, improving accuracy. He instantly guides the associate to the next task.
Provides the associate context-specific reason codes in the case of exceptions (e.g. shortage or damage) via a large touch screen display, which keeps them on task.
“What’s really nice is that when you see everything in operation, you’ll notice that the operators are really comfortable with the Chucks,” the 3PL manager said. “They don’t even give them a second glance. People just work alongside the Chucks. They look like they belong.”