Medical apparel company doubles pick rates, achieves same-day shipping with 6 River Systems collaborative robots
When fashion-forward becomes fulfillment-forward
Scaling a business can bring some unique challenges, and Sid Lakhani, CEO of Healing Hands Scrubs, is all too familiar with them. As the leader of a fashionable medical apparel company, Sid witnessed firsthand the gains—and pains—of sudden growth. About 10 years ago, his company launched a line of medical uniforms that skyrocketed in popularity, pushing him to build a faster, more effective fulfillment process.
When the time came to double his warehouse footprint to meet the greater demand, Sid began searching for a warehouse automation solution that would level-up Healing Hands Scrubs’ current fulfillment process. The team needed something more than manual carts and paper pick lists. Sid’s goal was to:
- Improve his warehouse order fulfillment process
- Increase pick rates and order accuracy
- Create a same-day delivery business model
- Provide the best possible shipping experience for his customers
- Invest in a solution that could scale with his business.
Sid considered traditional automation such as conveyors, pick-to-light and goods-to-person systems, but ruled those out based on lead time alone. He began looking at other options and turned to collaborative mobile robotics.
“I felt like 6RS had the best technology for our needs. And I also felt like they had a great team that our company could work with, and the team loves using the robots.”
CEO, Healing Hands
“I felt like 6RS had the best technology for our needs. And I also felt like they had a great team that that our company could work with, and the team loves using the robots.”
CEO, Healing Hands
Sid started his due diligence on mobile robot vendors in 2017. He chose 6 River Systems because of the directive, follow-the-leader approach of the robots, called “Chucks.” The associates follow the Chucks to the pick locations. They no longer need to memorize warehouse layouts. Plus, the 1-year-payback model was attractive.
“We looked at a few different options, and we felt like this was the best technology for our application,” Sid said. “And also, we felt like we were going to achieve a good ROI on the investment.”
Healing Hands deployed a 12-Chuck solution that is designed to pick 13,000 units daily. The solution accommodates 8 pickers and multiple takeoff locations. The system was integrated, implemented, and live within 1.5 months and is the primary fulfillment method for pick-and-pack.
The Healing Hands Scrubs team witnessed improvements in productivity, accuracy and happiness on the job.
With the 6 River Systems robots, Healing Hands Scrubs team has been able to double productivity to about 180 UPH, with bursts of up to 300 UPH. Associates are now able to shuttle around more than one order at a time.
The robots have also improved job satisfaction at Healing Hands Scrubs. Because the Chucks direct the workers, they are able to find the location of items much faster. They’re guided by the Chuck’s tablet sized display, which shows them pictures of which products to pick, and Chuck’s put-to-light function aids them in showing which shipping box to place the items into.
Prior to 6RS associates were manually picking with one order per cart. With Chuck Healing Hands is picking at 180UPH with some associates picking at 300UPH.
The Chucks come equipped with scanners, so associates can scan products hands-free more easily and validate on the spot, that the item they picked is the right item.
When they first moved to the new building, team members were walking up to 12 miles a day. With the Chucks, they’re walking about 3 miles a day.
Chuck eliminates needless walking by autonomously driving to and from induct, active picking and takeoff areas. This frees the associates up to stay focused on picking.
An eye towards the future
One of the greatest advantages of going with robotic automation is the flexibility it affords growing companies like Healing Hands Scrubs, where the future is bright - but uncertain. When demand increases, Sid knows he can rely on robots to deliver.
“The best thing about robotics is that they’re very scalable, they’re very flexible,” Sid said. “I know that if I have a surge in business I can get more robots shipped here in under a week. I also know that if we continue to grow and we need to leave this facility, I can take the robots with me.”
“I know ultimately that this was the right decision,” Sid added. “Productivity is more than double of before and this is going to take us into the future for the next 10 years.”
Why do associates like the system?
It’s because Chuck:
Optimizes the picking route to reduce walking.
Carries the totes, keeping associates hands-free.
Confirms picks and indicates which container to put items into.
Provides context specific reason codes which makes exception handling a breeze.