In a recent pilot at an Illinois logistics center, DSC explored robo wrapper technology: an automated mobile robot that circles a pallet fastening stretch wrap to prepare and secure the pallet’s contents for storage and shipping. The robot is moved to the pallet so it is not necessary to transfer pallets to the machine.
Productivity was a win with the robo wrapper, according to Richard Heintz, Supply Chain Leader II, who leads the logistics center team involved in the pilot. “While not necessarily faster, the robot uses less stretch wrap, 70 percent of what humans use,” Heintz said. “And productivity is gained when the operator performs other duties while the machine is wrapping. So using the robo wrapper technology results in hard savings.”
The logistics center team tracked human versus machine wrapped pallets with tags in order to compare the results. They found the robot-wrapped pallets to be more stable and secure, a gain in this particular environment where requirements to column stack create a challenge for hand wrapping pallets effectively.
All of the technology pilots are close collaborations between DSC’s TES engineers and Operations. In the robo wrapper project, headed up by TES Engineer Peter Garcia, when operators identified issues such as the stretch wrap tearing at the corners of the pallets, Garcia assessed the situation and recommended adjusting the multiple settings on the device or improved product placement on the pallet to prevent this occurrence.
“In our TES pilots, we are seeking to optimize each piece of equipment and leverage technology to enhance productivity and lower costs, creating value for the customer,” said Kevin Walsh, Senior Manager, TES. “Our pilots are an important commitment for us because we want to ensure that we have confidence in the new technology we offer to customers.” The customer involved in the robo wrapper pilot is purchasing several of the units DSC tested.