Distribution
Article
RMT Robotics, a subsidiary of Cimcorp Oy recently announced the sale of an automated crate storage and picking system for The Kroger Co. in Denver, Colorado in the United States. The equipment will be installed in a new dairy facility with the initial system operational in the second quarter of 2014.

“We look forward to providing Kroger with leading edge technology that will demonstrate the collaboration of solution design between our Finnish head office, Cimcorp Oy, and RMT Robotics” said Derek Rickard, Distribution Systems Manager, RMT Robotics Ltd. “This solution will be the first application of its kind in North America after having many years of success in the European market.”

“The system developed by Cimcorp OY and RMT Robotics Ltd. achieves our objectives of faster picking, accuracy and reliability enabling us to give our customers excellent standards of service”, says Larry Noe, Manufacturing Engineering Manager, Kroger Mountain View Foods. “The system will reduce our operational costs, while ensuring customer orders are picked and shipped quickly and accurately.”

30,000 crates per day

The system is designed to store up to 36,000 crates and process in excess of 30,000 crates per day. Crates are stacked, accumulated and conveyed to four MultiPick Gantry robots. The robots then move the inventory to storage positions on the floor until order fulfillment. Order pallets are picked by the robots, palletized and banded before being loaded onto a route truck.

TEXT&PHOTO: LORI VAUGHAN

 

System Overview

1. Jugs of milk are inserted into the cases from 3 separate filling lines, then upstacked 6-high. A conveyor line will hold back a slug of 9 stacks before releasing them onto the main infeed conveyor line. For tracking purposes, all 9 stacks from the same filling line will convey as one entity to one of the four Multipick gantries.

2. Products from outside the plant can be injected into the system via the manual induct station.

3. Stacks are singulated into the pickup zone where the robot will pick the entire stack and place it in storage. Storage is completely dynamic, which maximizes floor space usage by automatically adapting to ongoing production and picking fluctuations.

4. As soon as orders are released for picking the robots start to build customer stacks and place them on the outfeed conveyors. As each stack is placed, data associated with the stack including the target pallet is passed to the outfeed conveyor information system. Data management is an important aspect of the system - all characteristics of each case are logged and tracked throughout the system.

5. The stacks required for a given pallet can come from either a single MultiPick gantry or several. In either event, the conveyor system will control and merge all stacks required for a given pallet in the desired sequence.

6. The slug of stacks is then conveyed to the palletizer where they are automatically palletized and banded.   At this point, a label is printed and a marquee screen will inform the operator of the dock destination.

Kroger Co.

The Kroger Co., one of the world's largest retailers, employs more than 339,000 associates who serve customers in 2,422 supermarkets and multi-department stores in 31 states under two dozen local banner names including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Jay C, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith's. The company also operates 790 convenience stores, 344 fine jewelry stores, 1,141 supermarket fuel centers and 37 food processing plants in the U.S.

 

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