A graph of productivity rates with Chuck and manual pick carts

How we help you prepare for an unprecedented record-breaking peak

Fergal Glynn Last Updated: June 29th, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world overnight. Buying behaviors that were predicted to become the norm by 2030 are suddenly a reality. According to Forbes, ecommerce grew nearly 130% in April and May 2020 over the same period in 2019. Small to midsize 3PLs have been placed under tremendous pressure to meet this demand. With consumers slow to return to main street and the holiday peak fast approaching, the direct-to-consumer volume being fulfilled in warehouses shows no sign of slowing down.

We see evidence of this acceleration in the data from our fulfillment solution. When we compare our customers’ average off-peak lines per day in 2020 to 2019’s data, we see big increases in volume going through their buildings. Our customers are using this data to reforecast their own 2020 peak projections and their corresponding automation and labor needs.

2020 Holiday Peak Volume Forecast

The table above, pulled from historical data in our analytics solution powered by Tableau, shows 2019 mean-peak data, current site data and 2020 peak forecasts for two of our active sites. Site A has been regularly operating at rates higher than their 2019 peak levels since the beginning of the pandemic. Site B has on average 50% more daily volume compared to their 2019 off-peak days.

2019-2020 Peak to Mean Projection

We use this data, coupled with our customers’ own projections, to estimate the number of Chucks they require for a successful peak. The ability to use up to the minute data to project labor requirements (including collaborative mobile robots) means our customers have one less thing to worry about as they prepare for peak.

It’s not too late – how we can help you meet peak 2020 demand

Prior to this pandemic, retail, ecommerce and B2B fulfillment operators were increasingly turning to collaborative mobile robots to gain operational flexibility to support their growth. We’re seeing that the pandemic is accelerating this surge.

In addition to being more efficient and requiring fewer associates in your building than manual operations to get the same throughput, the 6 River Systems solution delivers the added benefits of protecting your warehouse associates during the COVID-19 crisis and an immediate savings on training costs.

Our ability to rapidly and remotely qualify, design and deploy a solution means you can have collaborative robots working in your building for this year’s peak.

Save $1,000 on every new hire’s first 2 weeks with Chuck

Our collaborative robot “Chuck” uses a directed picking workflow which self-trains an associate as they work. Chuck will guide associates to picking locations following the most efficient path: they don’t have to know where products are stored. Chuck offers simple and clear instructions on how to quickly perform their picking work: associates don’t need to learn complex inventory-tracking patterns. In addition, Chuck’s scanner and easy to follow on-screen and physical indicators deliver a huge reduction in mispicks and other errors.

Related: Why training time matters more than you think

We see this if we analyze a typical new-hire scenario for a site using both traditional pick carts (grey) and Chucks (blue). Associate A (grey) is trained to pick with a cart and associate B (blue) is trained to pick with Chuck. On average it takes 4 weeks to train an associate at a cart pick operation. Alternately, associates can be trained on Chuck in under an hour and are picking at higher rates than a cart on day one.

Training Costs: Chuck vs Manual Pick Carts

A graph of productivity rates with Chuck and manual pick carts

You can see in the chart above that the associate with Chuck picks more on their first day than the associate with the cart picks over their first two days combined. Associates with Chuck take fewer hours to complete the same amount of work as an associate picking with a cart – which means it costs less to complete the same amount of work.

Over the course of 10 days, associate B (blue) has picked 2X more SKUs than associate A (grey). In terms of real dollar savings, this accounts for $1,000 in the first 2 weeks for every new hire using Chuck. Now, think about this immediate performance benefit multiplied by the number of temporary workers you plan to recruit this peak season. This savings can have a real bottom line impact on your operation.

Learn More…

…about how our customer sites prepare for peak by watching the on-demand Future of Fulfillment webinar: Optimizing Warehouse Operations for Peak.