Transforming Material Handling at Lockheed Martin
Security & Aerospace Leader Reduces Costs and Improves Worker Satisfaction with 6 River Systems (6RS) Collaborative Mobile Robots
Listen to Corey Cook, Senior Solutions Architect at Lockheed Martin
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 105,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services.
Within the company’s Rotary and Mission Systems group, there were material handling challenges. The internal warehousing operations wanted to increase productivity by implementing processes and technology to assist workers with order picking. While robotics and system automation have been a component of Lockheed’s overall product portfolio in other businesses for more than a decade, it was not utilized in internal warehousing.
“6 River Systems increased our productivity. We also found that associates felt better about the work they were doing because it created a better environment for them.”
Considering a change
While the primary function of Lockheed’s warehouse operation is the same as most other companies, there were unique considerations that Lockheed had to consider in terms of replacing its manual pick-to-cart function.
- Integration with a WMS that is not a commonly used commercial product.
- Managing an operation with 100,000+ SKUs.
- Complex work environments.
- Non-standardized warehouse processes.
Plus, the overall productivity was only one part of the equation. The company was committed to ensuring an improved environment for its warehouse associates.
Making a decision
The Lockheed team invited a variety of solution providers to submit business cases and proposals to address the operations challenges. The team analyzed the proposals and assembled a shortlist for a detailed review.
Lockheed leadership gravitated to the 6RS business case and financial justification, but needed feedback from the associates before making a decision.
This was an important step in the process because of Lockheed’s security requirements that limits the pool of available workers, plus the typical distribution center labor challenges, including:
- Worker retention
- Rising labor costs
- Lack of qualified personnel
The Lockheed associates recommended 6RS. It was the easiest system to learn, eliminated physical strains of pushing a cart, and reduced fatigue caused by long walks.
Quick and easy implementation
6RS was up and running in less than 3 months. The fast implementation was possible, in part, because no new infrastructure was required. The system also provided flexibility to scale as needed to support business growth. Additional benefits included:
- Fast integration with the WMS, while enhancing system capabilities.
- Standardized order picking processes.
- 6RS allocation intelligence to minimize in-aisle travel.
- Rapid training and worker acceptance
- 381% increase in lines picked per hour achieved in six weeks
- ROI achieved in 9 months, with estimated savings of $1.5M
Why do associates like the system?
By implementing collaborative robots, Lockheed Martin saw worker productivity — and employee morale — increase.
Carries the totes, keeping associates hands-free.
On-screen pictures "show" the product to pick, ensuring picking accuracy.
Confirms picks and indicates which container to put items into.
Provides context specific reason codes to make exception handling a breeze.