Looking back to peak 2019, 6 River Systems (6RS) enabled our customers to pick millions of units a day while maintaining a 99.5% uptime across all sites with our fulfillment support. Alexa Mellon, the product manager leading the 2020 peak preparations at 6RS, shared at FLOW 2020, “the systems [our customers] have implemented in [their] warehouses are larger and more complex than they ever have been before.” Despite an unprecedented number of bots, customers and volume expected during peak 2020, Mellon explained during the session, “what we really want to tell you is we’re ready.”
During her session about peak preparation, Mellon broke down the three areas 6RS is focused on to prepare for what we’re forecasting could be the largest peak yet.
Focus Area 1: Software Simulation
At the top of Mellon’s list is ensuring that all software is fully stress-tested and perfected before being launched at sites. “You can be confident that the software you’re getting and the software that’s on your robots is the best of the best,” Mellon explains. “It’s already been through the volumes you see during peak, and we’ve made sure of that.”
Stress testing involves simulating the largest expected volumes from our largest sites and increasing that volume by over 5X. By aiming to break down the simulated operation, our engineers are able to make software enhancements that better prepare our customer sites for the incoming demand.
Focus Area 2: Hardware Tune-ups
Second on the list is testing and tuning up hardware across all of our customer sites. Within 6RS, our hardware engineers run our products through high intensity physical simulations to make sure that hardware will meet the rigors of peak demand. Additionally, the hardware engineering team has traveled across the United States, Canada, and Europe to make sure that every Chuck, every Mobile Sort kiosk and every Packout terminal gets touched to make sure that it is 100% ready to be utilized coming into the peak 2020 season.
Focus Area 3: Comprehensive Support Plans
Finally, Mellon’s team has been hard at work to ensure that we continue to provide the highest level of customer support while keeping everyone safe. This year’s comprehensive support plan includes both onsite and remote coverage.
Leading up to Q4, our customer success team ran a historical analysis of our sites’ activities which informed unique forecasts of the coming peak period as well as recommendations for operational tweaks. Recommendations included changes to the workforce, updates to picking methodologies and in some cases, increasing solution designs through seasonal rentals of robots, sort walls and packout kiosks.
Non-Disruptive Hardware Support
Unlike traditional automation within a warehouse, the hardware that brings the 6 River Systems solution to life is modular. If one kiosk or one robot is known to have a problem that needs repair, we have the ability to ship a pre-configured replacement to keep all activities running smoothly so orders can get out the door while we make repairs to your assets.
On-Site and Near-Site Support
In addition to some of this proactive planning of assets, we are sending engineers and customer success managers to strategically-located regional centers where they will be available at a moment’s notice for any necessary support if or when an issue arises. Depending on current restrictions on our customer sites, we are prepared to provide support on-site or remotely.
6 River Systems closely monitors specific KPIs to track our and our customers’ success during peak. It is our goal to have over 99.5% uptime at our customer sites so they can have the most seamless and smooth peak that we can make possible.
Product managers at 6RS meet every single day during the peak period to make sure that we understand how our customers measure against the volumes they expect and experience the uptime we expect. Once the peak season has completed, we will revisit lessons learned from our customer sites so we can better understand what can we improve on to make sure that peak 2021 is even more successful than last year’s.