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Award Winning Solution for Complex Cubing and Palletizing Problem

The Client & Objective

One of the world’s largest supply chain management companies tasked with contract packaging for a global electronics company reached out to MMCI Robotics for a very unique packing and palletizing solution for one of its order fulfillment facilities.

The goal was to develop an integrated system that improved order accuracy, enhanced quality control and increased labor efficiency while reducing shipping and operating costs.

However, with products ranging from small, lightweight devices to large, heavy equipment, any solution would require extensive flexibility.  Plus, since individual orders could include an infinite amount of product combinations, the solution would need to integrate with order fulfillment software that could determine the optimal method of packing cartons and building the pallets.  Finally, the system would need to work fluidly with the existing ERP software from SAP.

The Solution

MMCI was able to propose a single-source solution with MMCI designing the material handling system, MMCI Robotics developing the palletizing cell and MMCI’s sister-company providing the order fulfillment software.

The comprehensive and completely integrated system was designed to facilitate the following process:

  • After a new order is received, the cubing software provides instructions to operators on how to pack cases or trays, which sizes to use, and the packing order.
  • This order is processed on one of the two packing lines and the instructions are displayed at each of the packing stations on a large screen.
  • Items to be packed are scanned and tracked at each station.  
  • After packing the parts in the container, the container is transferred to the strapper.
  • Trays are automatically strapped and cases continue through without being strapped.
  • Before a container enters the robotic palletizer, a scanner identifies the container, a scale confirms the required weight, and a dimensioner confirms the package size.
  • The container is then conveyed into the palletizer and the scanned and tracked information from the container tells the robot if it is a tray or a case.

The Fanuc robot is equipped with a custom-designed and highly versatile end-of-arm tool that can handle both trays and cases. If the container is a case, the robot will flip down a vacuum pad to pick the case from the top. If container is a tray the robot will pick it from the bottom using the forks.

  • Once a pallet is completed, it leaves the robot cell and enters a pallet strapper.
  • Strapping is initiated based on tracking of the product on the pallet.  
  • The pallet then conveys to the stretch wrapper and onto a scale where the weight is checked. 
  • Once complete, the system sends a confirmation that the order has been processed and a label listing all containers on the pallet is printed and placed on the load.

To ensure delivery of an operational order fulfillment processing system, the equipment was engineered, manufactured, assembled and tested at MMCI’s facility in St. Louis, Missouri prior to shipment.  The software for order-fulfillment was developed and then the entire system was tested at MMCI prior to installation at the customer’s facility.

The Result

The solution was so successful that this facility won an internal award for the design and implementation of the system. 

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