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Dematic order assembly breakthrough delivers the goods

Supplier: Dematic
06 May, 2010

Most order pickers actually spend much more time travelling between picks than they do picking - even if they are equipped with forklifts or pallet trucks - adding significantly to distribution costs.

So imagine how much more efficient, productive and safe your order picking team would be if the goods they needed to fulfil orders came to them, instead of them having to go, find and transport the goods.

Goods to the Person (GTP)

The principle of Goods to the Person (GTP) picking is not new. But changes in government regulations combined with advances in technology and software are increasingly making GTP a very attractive option for many distribution operations.

Dematic's innovative semi-automated GTP distribution solutions comprise two key sub-systems:

  • Ergonomically designed, manually operated Pick and Put Stations for high rate order fulfilment (1,000+ picks/hour across several hundred line items): and
  • Automated buffer storage systems which sequence and transport the required items to Pick and Put Stations in the correct order to facilitate efficient order assembly.

Ergonomic Pick and Put Stations

Dematic has developed and implemented Ergonomic Pick and Put Workstation configurations capable of fulfilling multiple orders concurrently.

Workstations can facilitate split case picking, with designs including the use of Pick to Light (PTL) displays or voice-directed computing to further improve accuracy, productivity and throughput.

High Rate Put Stations for Fast Movers

Dematic High Rate Put Stations can be an ideal solution for fast moving product lines. Directed by PTL or voice, pickers fulfil batches of orders without having to leave their workstation. This is only possible where sophisticated sequencing software and controls seamlessly supply the right stock to the Put Station, precisely when it is needed to match a corresponding order. Human errors are virtually eliminated and productivity is optimised. In fact, pick rates of up to 450 lines and 1,000 items per hour are possible. This is suited to high volume applications where the same product line is needed to fulfil several orders, such as for multiple retail grocery, apparel or publishing stores.

High Rate Pick Stations for Slower Movers

The High Rate Pick Station is also suited to the requirements of slow moving product lines within a DC. Fed by Dematic's new high throughput Multishuttle storage and retrieval engine, these stations can deliver pick rates of up to 700 lines per hour. This means one person at a pick station can do the work of up to ten people in a traditional picking environment. Furthermore, the space efficiency of the GTP solution means the building footprint may be reduced by up to 50%.

How Dematic Pick and Put Stations Work

Empty order totes and full inventory totes carrying the goods for picking are transported by an integrated conveyor system, arriving concurrently at the workstations in the exact sequence required to fulfil the next order(s). The minimum manual handling and effort is needed by the operator to pick and place the required items to the order(s) being picked, with the conveyor system transporting order totes to despatch and the inventory totes back to storage.

Dematic Multishuttle: Automated Storage Buffer & Order Sequencing

Picking goods efficiently through Ergonomic Workstations is one thing; supplying the goods needed to fulfil orders in the correct sequence to facilitate order assembly is the other half of Dematic's Goods to the Person (GTP) solution.

Dematic's Multishuttle is the next generation solution for automated storage and retrieval of cases, totes and trays. Designed to enhance the interface between bulk storage and functions like order assembly, the Multishuttle dramatically increases speed, accuracy and throughput.

With sophisticated controls and performance enhancing software, the Multishuttle can interface with a wide range of storage media and handling containers. Its inherent flexibility enables it to be easily adapted to any shape or size of building, including existing facilities.

Multi-function Multishuttle

Dematic's Multishuttle extends the range of applications possible with automated storage systems, allowing a completely new range of automated solutions to be developed.

The Multishuttle differs from conventional ASRS (automated storage and retrieval systems) in that instead of a single crane per storage aisle, the Multishuttle uses intelligent self-propelled carts throughout different levels of the storage system.

The carts 'shuttle' goods in and out of the very space-efficient storage system, interfacing with an integrated conveyor system, which transports and delivers the goods to the pick face in exactly the correct sequence to facilitate efficient order assembly and load building.

Dematic Multishuttle: How it works

The Multishuttle buffer storage system houses all of the stock required to assemble the next batch of orders. As items are being picked and sent to the pick face, new items are automatically inducted to replenish the storage buffer.

It provides a vital interlink and buffer between bulk storage and order fulfilment, ensuring the necessary stock to fulfil orders is always on hand, improving order fill rates and customer service levels.

The Multishuttle can operate in two configurations - Captive and Roaming. The "Captive" format is ideal for high throughput applications such as order picking and order consolidation buffers. Dematic's Roaming Multishuttle meets the needs of low to medium throughput applications while providing maximum flexibility.

Real Time Logistics and Software Integration

Scheduling and sequencing stock to fulfil a large number of orders at the same time requires smart software and integrated controls.

Dematic's DC DIRECTOR interfaces with the user's host computer system, typically a warehouse management system (WMS) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software suite.

Order information downloaded from the host is processed and sequenced by DC DIRECTOR to ensure the goods required to assemble orders arrive at the pick face in the correct sequence. This includes reverse stacking of containers to ensure the heaviest goods are located at the bottom, or in reverse drop sequence for delivery of mixed orders to multiple locations.

Dematic Goods to the Person (GTP) Solutions

Dematic is progressively developing the GTP concept, with several of the world's leading manufacturers, retailers and distributors implementing systems with varying degrees of complexity. Locally Dematic is currently commissioning the first two semi-automated GTP systems in Australasia, with several more in process.