A large international logistics company with several sorting centers faced the challenge of improving sorting speed in their centers. They did not use a sorting machine as the investment was too big, so they kept to manual sorting. With 10 sorting-center employees, they managed to sort about 600 parcels per hour to 65 destinations in one of the sorting centers. This situation was similar in their other locations.
Challenge: Improve efficiency
The client asked us to come up with a solution to improve efficiency at a reasonable price. We proposed our autonomous sorting solution. Since the volumes were not too big, the distances between incoming and outgoing containers was not too long and there were a high number of sorting destinations, this was an ideal use case for our autonomous sorting robots.
Implementation and challenges
We started out by creating concept drawings of possible layouts in the sorting center. After the client gave green light to begin the implementation of the autonomous sorting solution, we had to figure out how we could roll out our robots in spite of Covid-19 travel restrictions being in place.
We decided to have our engineers quarantine for 14 days before they could start working on the implementation. Prior to the actual installation at client’s multiple sites, we set up a test center in a central hub, for the client to see the efficiency of the autonomous sorting robots in the sorting process.
The client liked and approved the test setup and we went on to install the autonomous sorting at multiple client locations. Even including the quarantine period for our robotics engineers, we completed the installation within a few weeks.
The efficiency of the client’s sorting locations has since improved significantly. Previously, one worker sorted 60 parcels per hour and 10 workers were needed to sort 600 parcels per hour. With the autonomous sorting solution, 1 worker and 10 robots can sort up to 600 parcels per hour.
Workers now only need to scan a parcel and place it on top of the robot. The robot then transports the parcel to the destination, where it is automatically dropped in the destination container. The robots can be deployed 24/7 and do not need lunch breaks or get ill.
Our customer is particularly pleased about the flexibility and scalability of the autonomous sorting solution and the flexibility and knowledge of our robotics engineers.
Benefits of the Autonomous Sorting solution
The autonomous sorting solution has many benefits for every logistics company. First of all, the solution requires a low investment and the ongoing costs are very limited.
The solution has a short implementation time. Even with Covid-19 travel restrictions and quarantine period, our robotics engineers finished the job of installing the system in multiple locations within a few weeks.
Autonomous sorting is flexible and easily scalable. The robots learn to ‘read’ the floor once and if more capacity is needed, it is a matter of simply adding more robots. The robots can also be deployed at other locations as soon as they can read the floor space of a location.
Destinations can be easily added to the system and in the event a robot fails, it can be easily replaced with another one, guaranteeing the continuity of the sorting process and making it the ideal solution for any logistics company that (partially) depends on manual sorting in a time of global staff shortages.
Many logistics companies are still working with inefficient, manual sorting systems and have to deal with dwindling staff numbers. With a relatively small investment and within a short time frame, these companies can make their systems significantly more efficient.
Our client’s results have improved with our autonomous sorting solution and they are interested in expanding the number of robots and locations to deploy the autonomous system.
In addition, the client has shown interest in a different easy to install solution for manual handling: the Flow Projector. This is a scalable solution with a short implementation time, that also improves the efficiency of the manual sorting process.