Case Study : Warehouse Automation

Situation

The holiday season was just around the corner. A mid-sized US based home and office equipment online merchant wanted to spruce up their warehouse management processes to prepare for the increased number of deliveries. With the manual system they were using, they required a staff of 20 people to manage the daily shipments of 3000 packages. To cut costs and speed up processes, they purchased an off-the-shelf warehouse automation system.

The system was supposed to ease the processes for them. Instead, it ended up adding to their agony. Within a weeks’ time, they realized the problems in the system. Around 50% of their shipments were incorrectly delivered due to incorrect shipment address. This not only resulted in financial losses, but also put the firm’s reputation at stake.

Task

To avoid further problems, the client first moved back to the manual system. But with hardly any days left for the holiday season to start, they knew they needed an automated system; and one that wouldn’t ditch them this time.

They approached e.Soft technologies and asked if we could improve upon the current solution. Our team was positive they could work out this problem. But there was a catch.

With the holiday season being 22 days away, e.Soft had very limited time to deliver a working solution. Like always, our enthusiastic team was up for this challenge.

Approach

A task force of 10 technologists was set up to resolve this problem for the client. Following our ADTI framework we drew a step by step solution

Analyze

An in-depth analysis of the warehouse process showed that the mismatch between the speed of the messaging queue that delivered the shipping information and the time the package spent on the weighing scale (where the shipping label was printed), is what caused the issue.

Develop

An appropriate 'delay' mechanism was developed to ensure shipping information MQ aligned with the time spent on the weighing scale.

We implemented and coded (using Ladder programming) PLC to control the backlog of packages on the belt.

To manage the entire journey of the package and adjust the system to the individual package’s movement, we coded and implemented multiple sensors that would make this process efficient.

Test

As is our rule, we tested and re-tested the solution and it was delivered to the client, all within just 18 days. Even when the client actually started using it, we monitored the entire process 24/7 for a month to make sure everything was working fine.

Improve

The client was very happy with the results and the solution was working very effectively for their business. The core issue was solved, but there was still scope for the solution to get better. Staying true to our tradition, we suggested further improvements to the solution.

  • Developed label printing process for off-conveyer-belt products to save shipping time
  • Developed 'multi-carrier shipping' solution to identify cheapest logistic partner for any package.
  • Integrated 'FBA shipping process' to ensure compliance for FBA packages
  • Integrated 'Qubiscan' with the system

Result

e.Soft’s custom-made solution enabled

  • Correct labeling 100% of products
  • Labor and cost reduction - Only 8 people were required to manage 13000+ orders.
  • Yearly savings of $450,000 +