Telecommunications : Automated Packaging for “Micro” Products

A big fulfillment opportunity that required the picking, scanning and insertion of tiny SIM cards in each order would have overwhelmed a manual pick and pack line.


Technology today is getting tinier, and the SIM cards for mobile devices is no exception. When an existing PSI customer had an exciting new distribution opportunity for a mobile provider, it soon became clear that the tiny “micro” SIM card design—which is less than half the size of a credit card—was going to be a significant challenge for order pickers to handle. Since the distributor had contracted an Integrator to automate the mobile phones and other devices picking, the pick velocity was very important. Plus, each individual SIM card had to have the Integrated Circuit Card Identifier (ICCID) barcode scanned as well. It looked like there was going to be an army of picking operators for this one single transaction.


Working with the Integrator, the customer was able to install a distribution center design that picks, inserts the devices into a tote, sends the tote to PSI’s LC In-Feeder to feed the micro SIM card, confirm the two pieces marriage of SIM card to device, and keep transporting the tote to an automatic rightsizing corrugated wrapping system. PSI then prints, folds and feeds the correct document pages, and the order is wrapped, labeled, and sent to the customer with a 100% guarantee of correct components.


To meet this unique challenge, the Integrator sought PSI Engineering’s expertise and products because of PSI’s existing installations for print-fold and feed systems, and the Integrator knew PSI’s LC In-Feeder had existing installations feeding small items at high rates of speed. PSI also had an existing LC In-Feeder installation at another mobile provider 3PL that was also scanning and feeding SIM cards.

PSI had recognized the challenge small SIM and other cards or inserts presented, and had developed a new version feeder to handle the small format SIM cards, scan the barcode, and then send the data information to the integrator for phone to SIM card marriage. Their rates using this new feeder exceeded 30 feeds per minute.


Overall, both the Integrator and the distribution customer were thrilled with the results. ROI for the customer’s new PSI feeding system is expected to be 9 months. Using automation dramatically increased their throughput to thousands per hour using a minimal labor force. In fact, PSI’s feeding system has reduced their manual order pickers by 15 to 20 associates.


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