The growth of omnichannel retailing means distribution centers and logistics warehouses need to transform their systems to handle both pallets and packaging destined for retail shelves, while also picking and packing highly varied items for shipping direct to individual consumers.
A significant driver for change has been the growth of direct-to-consumer (D2C) and direct-to-store (D2S) shipping, which is dramatically changing the way that consumers order and collect products. With these new models, consumers have an expanding choice of methods for receiving orders in addition to home delivery, which is becoming increasingly environmentally and economically unsustainable as more people shop remotely. These methods include click and collect, in-store collection and, more recently, robotic street kiosks, where shoppers pay for and receive the product of their choice.
Operators need the right infrastructure for maximum flexibility that can pick and handle a wide variety of goods in the widest range of combinations and in the shortest possible time.
During a webinar in lieu of this year’s Interpack trade show event, Marc Segura, ABB’s Managing Director Consumer Segments & Service Robotics, said: “We are helping retailers as they embrace omnichannel strategies to answer consumer demand for greater choice. The ongoing development of direct-to-consumer channels and the fusion of e-retailers acting as retailers and vice versa is creating pressure on traditional order fulfillment systems to handle a greater variety of items at higher speeds.”
Advances in technology, including robot speed and payload, as well as AI enabled by vision systems, will give customers the unprecedented ability to recognize and handle a greater variety of products in a more agile and flexible way.
With its FlexPicker® robot and PickMaster® software, including the recently released PickMaster® Twin, ABB is already helping logistics, e-fulfilment and retail operators worldwide to meet the consumer demand revolution.
This capability will be enhanced with the upcoming launch of IRB 390 FlexPacker at the end of 2020. The IRB 390 FlexPacker robot will be available as a four and five axis variant delta robot. It is 35 per cent faster than the IRB 360-8/1130 FlexPicker, with a 45 per cent increase in reachable volume and payload of up to 15 kg.
Designed for customers in Food & Beverage, logistics, pharmaceutical and consumer-packaged goods industries, the IRB 390 will be ideal for secondary packaging and higher payload applications, with the speed and flexibility to support Shelf Ready Packaging (SRP) and Retail Ready Packaging (RRP). Possible uses include secondary packaging in food (dry and wet), beverage, pharmaceutical, medical, personal care, pet care (food and more), CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) and logistics. The IRB 390 will have NSF H1 Food Grade Lubricants and built of FDA compliant material, suitable for use in hygienic environments. FGO and FGG (H1) is used in all exposed gearboxes and bearings.
“With the launch of the new IRB 390 FlexPacker, ABB will be able to offer an enhanced portfolio of automation products to help our customers meet the latest pick and place challenges,” continued Marc Segura. “We are combining the speed, payload and dexterity of FlexPacker with the proven high-speed picking and packing capability of FlexPicker and the advanced vision and digital twin capability of PickMaster Twin to help our customers make their lines more flexible than ever before, to handle the growth of low volume, high mix and higher payload production.”
Manufacturers will be able to build a complete solution for pre-sorting and group packing by combining the IRB 390 FlexPacker with the IRB 360 FlexPicker, which has been the leader in state-of-the-art high-speed picking and packing for the past 15 years.
FlexPacker is also designed to work with PickMaster Twin, ABB’s market leading robotic software for vision-guided random flow picking and packing applications. PickMaster Twin features digital twin technology, allowing the building of simulated packing stations to optimize the picking process. The software increases productivity by dramatically shortening commissioning times from days to hours and changeover times from hours to minutes, while maximizing overall line efficiency. The software also features a powerful color vision system that can support up to 10 cameras for accurate position guidance and feature inspection.
ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a technology leader that is driving the digital transformation of industries. With a history of innovation spanning more than 130 years, ABB has four, customer-focused, globally leading businesses: Electrification, Industrial Automation, Motion, and Robotics & Discrete Automation, supported by the ABB Ability™ digital platform. ABB’s Power Grids business will be divested to Hitachi in 2020. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 144,000 employees. www.abb.com
About ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation
ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation is a pioneer in robotics, machine automation and digital services, providing innovative solutions for a diverse range of industries, from automotive to electronics to logistics. As one of the world’s leading robotics and machine automation suppliers, we have shipped over 400,000 robot solutions. We help our customers of all sizes to increase productivity, flexibility and simplicity and to improve output quality. We support their transition towards the connected and collaborative factory of the future. ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation employs more than 10,000 people at over 100 locations in more than 53 countries. www.abb.com/robotics