Retailer adds capacity to outdated automation with 6 River Systems (6RS)
Business places faith in 6RS for goods-to-person overhaul
When growing is a pain
“Why should we be penalized for doing well?”
That’s what Paul, the SVP of Supply Chain at a global home goods retailer thought when faced with a peculiar problem: his goods to person (GTP) warehouse automation system couldn’t handle his business’s growth. For the fourth consecutive year, the system couldn’t keep up with burgeoning ecommerce orders. Paul wanted to upgrade the solution to handle more capacity, but was skeptical. If goods-to-person automation couldn’t handle his business’s needs now, how would it handle its future growth?
To meet the additional capacity, Paul added a manual pick cart operation to help fulfill orders that the GTP couldn’t process due to constraints on production dimension, capacity and throughput. But even Paul knew this was just a band-aid fix. He needed a longer-term automation solution, particularly for the upcoming peak season: one that would be quick to learn, speedy to implement and provide the horsepower to get his team through its busiest days.
What was Paul going to do?
Choosing the best automation solution
Paul had a few options at his disposal to handle his “growing” problem:
Continue to enhance his GTP throughput with manual carts. Paul implemented a manual cart operation that ran alongside the GTP system, but it came with its own workflow challenges. Pick rates lagged at 37 UPH, a pace he knew wouldn’t be fast enough for peak.
Replace the GTP system with another GTP system. Paul didn’t have the option of upgrading his current GTP system, because the vendor who sold him the solution was no longer on the market. The only other option was to replace the system. This would certainly help with capacity, but it was extremely costly, and there was no guarantee that his business wouldn’t run into the same capacity issue again five years down the line. The cost outlay was immense. Replacing the system would mean a nearly 12-month setup, five-year payback and eight-figure up-front cost.
Deploy proven collaborative automation a third time. Paul had already implemented a 6 River Systems project in a store replenishment operation within the same warehouse. The solution had been live for one year, and in that year he saw significant success with 6RS collaborative mobile robots, including:
- 62% increase units picked per hour from 250 to 407
- 4-week deployment
- ROI in one year
Going with the financially-sound choice
When he did the math, Paul realized his budget would be better spent on collaborative robots instead of another goods-to-person system. For a fraction of the cost of GTP, Paul could increase his pick rates significantly. Paul felt confident in choosing 6 River Systems because he trusted the team’s ability to craft an application-specific, powerful collaborative robotics solution that would meet his operation’s needs.
How Chuck works
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 real-time validation of 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.
6RS and the GTP system work side-by-side, replacing Paul’s manual cart operation with a system of 10 Chuck+ robots, which are larger than the standard Chuck. The operation's order profile is approximately 2 units per line. Chuck+ handles orders that are:
a) too large dimensionally to fit in the GTP system, such as pillows and comforters.
b) too heavy for the GTP system, such as blenders and other home appliances.
c) additional SKUs that simply do not fit in the system capacity of the GTP system.
More than 3x pick rates over manual carts
Within the first month of deployment, Paul saw much faster rates than the manual cart operation he had in place to supplement his GTP.
There’s no new infrastructure required with 6RS robots and software, making the solution quick to implement and deploy. The solution was deployed right before the retailer’s holiday peak.
A brighter future
6RS cobots have become the go-to each-picking solution for this retailer. Paul is now working with 6RS on a new solution that will replace the obsolete GTP system entirely. The fourth solution is projected to be live in the next few months.
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.
Contact us at 1-866-60-CHUCK to schedule a 30-minute introductory meeting and demonstration.