An online beverage subscription company was fulfilling orders completely manually and due to a labor shortage, management wanted to automate the process in the next two years. In addition to a shortage of labor, the number of erroneous orders was steadily increasing; as demand increased, the pressures to fulfill orders in a timely manner was going up. This led to imperfect orders going out the door – orders containing the wrong beverages, or the wrong quantity of beverages would end up being delivered to the customer. As customer complaints about imperfect orders rose, so did the costs to fix these orders.
The manual process required 10 operators on two lines, packing orders into boxes and including the proper documentation in each box. The average throughput of 400 orders per hour was barely keeping up with current demand. The company was forecasting that demand would double in the next 12 months and they needed to make improvements that would allow them to fulfill the orders in a timely manner.
At a tradeshow, the VP of Operations for the Company became aware of PSI’s product verification system and print on demand products and reached out to the PSI team discuss how the products could improve their facilities. After completing a time study at their facility, PSI’s solutions team recommended an Autoslip to handle their documentation insertion needs. The team included in the pack station design: an automatic carton closer, a checkweigher to verify the orders contained the right number of products, and multiple reject lanes to divert the incorrect orders to another area for correction.
The Automated Pack Station
The new process would see operators pack each container, place it on the conveyor to the carton sealer. Once the carton was closed, the Autoslip printed, pouched, and applied the documentation to the top of the box. Further down the line, the checkweigher would verify the box contained the correct number of products before it reached the sortation area. If the weight did not line up with the customer’s ordered products, the carton would be diverted down a reject lane for inspection and correction.
Once the pack station was automated, each of the two lines were able to handle 900 orders per hour – more than enough for current demand and meet the projected demand over the next year while reducing the number of operators required from 10 to 2. The redundancy in the pack lines allowed for zero down time when one line was undergoing maintenance or repairs.