Heavy lifting eliminated using a robot and roller conveyors
An automation of the order picking process has now eliminated this health and safety issue and led to increased productivity and accuracy in order picking.
The new system consists of a number of roller conveyors placed side by side. One or more conveyors are allocated a specific product. Fully automatic transfer carts are running along the infeed and the out-let ends of these conveyors. One of the transfer carts will bring full pallets to the approach conveyors.
The other transfer cart is equipped with two conveyors, one for a stack of empty pallets, the other one for order picking. A robot with catchers and a vision camera is placed between the two roller conveyors on the transfer cart.
The robot has “eyes”
The robot will automatically pick-up and place a stack of empty pallets and an “order picking pallet” on the two transfer cart roller conveyors. When the transfer cart receives an order from the order processing system it will drive to the conveyor where the first product of the order is located.
The robot is equipped with a vision camera enabling it to place the suction cups correctly and find the right suction point. This enables the robot to place the sacks correctly on the picked pallet so that a stable pallet pattern can be built.
The transfer cart will drive to the relevant conveyors and the robot will pick the products ordered. When all the goods of the order have been placed on the picked pallet the transfer cart brings the pallet to the outlet conveyor where a bar code label is automatically attached. The pallet will then be transported to the shipping dept. on a pump truck.
Having delivered the pallet on the outlet conveyor the robot will pick another empty pallet from the stack of pallets on the transfer cart and place this pallet on the “pick conveyor”. Now, it can start the picking of goods for the next order.
Empty pallets on the approach conveyors are removed by the robot
The robot can “see” an empty pallet on an approach conveyor and it will pick this up and use it for an order. When the robot has removed an empty pallet the pallet behind it will move forward. Simultaneously, a message is sent to the stock control system that another pallet with the product in question must be delivered from the production.
Prepared for future extensions
Today, the order picking system starts up a few hours before the start of the working day meaning that pallets with orders are ready for removal when the staff shows up. Alfix, however, have prepared for future requirements: the system can work night and day and it has been placed strategically to the effect that it is possible to increase the capacity by doubling the number of approach conveyors.