Hughes Enterprises

New Robotic Packaging Technology Allows E-Commerce Distributor to Improve Process, DIM Weight Costs

E-commerce distribution success story

As the sole U.S. distributor for a major electronics brand, one of our partners ships a wide variety of products from their distribution centers. This high volume of high-dollar products means attention to detail without losing speed during packaging is important. Find out how we worked with them to improve their packaging process.

Challenges

Because our partner ships an incredibly wide variety of products that require different case sizes, their distribution centers’ packaging process was getting bogged down with multiple machines and changeover delays. In order to keep up with demand, they needed to address the following:

  1. Distribution centers used multiple case erectors to handle a variety of sizes of electronics products.
  2. Each case erector could only handle two sizes of cases. They have eight case sizes in total.
  3. Changeover to handle swapping out case sizes caused downtime.
  4. The solution needed to be conscious of DIM weight.

In 2019, we looked at two distribution center locations, each with four case erectors. One machine cost about $60,000, so eight case erectors added up quickly. We came up with a less expensive solution that had even better technology.

Solutions

At Hughes, we have a deep understanding of packaging and distribution for a wide range of industries, including e-commerce fulfillment centers. We knew that adding a Combi Robotic Random Case Erector (RCE) would greatly improve their packaging process and be more cost effective.

The RCE uses newer technology to erect random sizes of cases on demand. As the SAP calls out an order, the robot selects the appropriate size case, erects it and adds a license plate so the case can be tracked down the packaging line. The ability of one unit to select from various case sizes eliminates the need for additional case forming machines.

We added a customized Robotic Random Case Erector to two distribution centers. These machines replaced eight total case erectors. They also eliminated the occurrence of downtime caused by changeovers.

The RCE features impressive technology: a FANUC six-axis robot; flexible end of arm tooling with vacuum and dropped case detection; 1-6 powered case magazines; bottom flap folder with 3M tapehead; Allen-Bradley touchscreen; and more.

Using this new technology means the RCE can not only compete with but exceed the production of brands the e-commerce and distribution industries might be more familiar with. For example, the RCE exceeds other brands of case erectors in both cases per minute and variety of changeovers.

So how did this technology help our partner?

Results

By switching out four case erectors for one machine – in two locations – Hughes was able to help their distribution centers get incredible results:

  • Production was increased by 300%
  • Ability to fully automate DIM weight conscious packaging
  • Reduction in the amount of energy used
  • Manual labor time was reduced for the end-of-line process
  • Using a custom, fully automatic machine reduced the amount of capital needed

Our partnership is growing as our client’s packaging processes improve. We’re working on adding robotic random case erectors to more locations. We currently supply the cases used for packaging and hope to provide more consumables for them in the future.

If you’re interested in learning about a customized solution for your end-of-line packaging process for your business, contact the experienced consultants at Hughes Enterprises today.

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