3PL : Outsized ROI Achieved from Fulfillment Line Automation

A 3PL company fulfilling orders for a large industrial manufacturing company was looking to introduce automation into their facility. The customer met PSI at a tradeshow booth and engaged the PSI team to design a solution to increase order volume and reduce errors, eliminating the overtime that was currently being used to complete the day’s orders. An additional challenge was that the Company only had about $500,000 left to spend that capital year on a project. 

PSI did a time study of the 3PL’s entire fulfillment process and three areas were identified as the automation opportunities that would provide the highest and quickest ROI: order weighing, shipping label application, and sortation to carrier.  

The PSI team designed a solution that took the slowest processes and automated them at the end of the line; the operators still manually packed each order and sealed the container, but once the box was closed, it was placed on a conveyor where it would be weighed by a Checkweigher to confirm the contents of the container. If the weight was incorrect, it was diverted down the “reject lane”.  If the contents of the package were correct, the next step would be to automatically print and apply the shipping label. With the package labelled, it would then be sorted into the appropriate shipping lane based on the destination. 

Once this solution was installed, the 3PL’s entire order volume was handled in one shift. This simple, efficient solution increased throughput and reduced errors – all within budget. The ROI on this project was so high that the 3PL’s management team decided to implement this solution in their other facilities across the country and are investing in automation throughout the rest of the process at their larger centers. 

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