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How shuttle technology is revolutionising order fulfilment

15-07-2013
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in 
Dematic’s Revolutionary Multishuttle
Pas Tomasiello, Head of Integrated Logistics Systems at Dematic ANZ, explains how, in just a couple of years, Dematic’s Multishuttle has revolutionised the market for automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) worldwide. Dematic’s innovative new approach to automating the handling of small units loads like totes and cases has made a whole new range of integrated logistics solutions possible, with many Multishuttle systems now driving high rate order fulfilment and assembly operations in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.
 
Unlike conventional ASRS, which typically use cranes to access stock, Dematic’s Multishuttle uses a fleet of selfpropelled carts to retrieve and put goods away in an ultra space-efficient storage system, at very high speeds.
 
Lifts at the end of each aisle transfer goods in and out of the system via integrated conveyors.
 
Given that each Multishuttle is capable of performing at rates significantly faster than cranes – imagine the phenomenal productivity and throughput rates that can be achieved when tens or hundreds of Multishuttles are integrated within a single system.
 
Another significant advantage Multishuttle has over conventional ASRS is its ability to sequence workflow and do parallel processing, by handling multiple loads across multiple levels at the same time.
 
Just as more powerful software drives the need for faster computers and vice versa … so too does Multishuttle technology drive the possibility for faster sequencing and integration of stock and orders.
 
Multishuttle’s very high throughput rates suddenly made it possible for Dematic to develop a series of clever applications that have the capability to bring customers to a new level of efficiency – arguably the ultimate in split case picking and order assembly.
 
The Multishuttle system had the capacity to move stock and order totes so fast, that new picking stations became necessary to allow pickers to keep up with the flow of goods.
 
To take full advantage of Multishuttle’s very high throughput, Dematic developed a new concept of high speed picking station, enabling operators to achieve previously unheard productivity rates of up to 1500 picks or 1000 order lines per hour.
 
Dematic RapidPick System configurations include one-to-one workstations where a single order tote and stock tote are presented to the operator.
 
One-to-multiple stations can also be used depending on requirements. In these cases a single stock tote is used to fulfill multiple orders at the same time.
 
Configurations may include any arrangement from 1:1 up to 1:24 or more, depending on order volumes, order profile and the type of products being handled.
 
As picking stations began to facilitate faster picking, operator ergonomics became an important issue.
 
With a design objective of working smarter, not harder, the RapidPick workstations include height-adjustable platforms and screens to optimise comfort, minimise fatigue and ensure sustained productivity.
 
The operator picks only in the “golden zone”, and does not need to move hands above shoulder height or extend arms beyond a comfortable reach. Stock and shippers are automatically delivered to and removed from the workstation eliminating the need for operators to lift or push cartons and totes.
 
The Multishuttle storage buffer concept can also be applied to sequencing mixed cases for manual or automated palletising. Manual mixed case order assembly, in particular, can be done more safely and with much greater efficiency, accuracy and productivity when goods are presented for palletising in the correct sequence.
 
Dematic ErgoPall Palletising Stations enable operators to build mixed SKU pallets by simply sliding sequenced cases into position on a pallet. As each layer is completed the pallet automatically lowers enabling assembly of the next layer to begin, significantly reducing the physical effort required and improving the safety, speed and quality of manual palletising.
 
The next challenge for Dematic was finding a way to keep the stock and orders flowing to pickers fast enough to optimise the high throughput rates achievable with the new pick station designs.
 
This led to the development of sophisticated sequencing software. Complex sequencing algorithms ensure stock and orders flow to the picking stations in the correct sequence, when required. And, with less than one second tote exchange time, picking station operators don’t have to wait for the next item to be picked.
 
With the logistics landscape changing at a faster pace than ever before, it is essential that integrated distribution solutions be modular, scalable and flexible so they can be replicated quickly, and scaled to suit the necessary volumes as business needs change. Multishuttle’s modular design and inherent flexibility means it can be designed to fit in practically any shape or area of building, even unused roofspace. Simply adding additional Multishuttles to a system can also significantly increase throughput capacity.
 
One certainty is, as each new customer comes to Dematic with their own unique distribution requirements, Multishuttle and its associated enabling technologies will continue to evolve and create powerful new solutions for optimising distribution for many years to come.
 
Dematic Pty Limited
Ph: 02 9486 5555

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