Music in a box: packaging of multiple products in one large box, right on time, size and in sequence.
In the e-commerce fulfillment center of music store BAX (The Netherlands) the operators receive custom-made large boxes at their workstations to handle orders of multiple products that have been picked and sorted for them. Avercon not only built a smart case packer to pack the individualized boxes but also figured out the logistics to get the boxes to the operators at the right time, in the right sequence.
Order pickers at music store BAX collect all products in the warehouse and sort them in a rack before they get packed and shipped to customers. Once an order is completed, the case packer – with tray and lid box technology – automatically makes a on-size box with the size adapted to the size of the products. The machine basically does an automatic change over for every new box it makes.
The machine stands out for packaging XL products in a customized box to optimise the flow of material, waste, energy, transport and flexibility.
It’s a clever solution to a problem that many e-commerce players are struggling with because having boxes in the right size saves costs in both packaging and shipment: less weight, less volume, less material, less transport costs. But while sophisticated on its own, it became quickly clear that the solution also brought a new challenge: making sure that the operators wouldn’t have to wait for the boxes while simultaneously avoiding that the conveyor to the packing stations would have to buffer too many boxes, messing up the sequence in which they get delivered.
Avercon built a model of the operations using a plant simulation software that allowed to solve conflicts before production. The control system of the automatization could be fine-tuned by visualizing the effect of changes in speeds and timing on the flow of boxes. It allowed to find the perfect balance that keeps the operators utilized 100% of the time (no waiting time) without creating any bottlenecks in the conveyors between the box making machine and the packing stations.
Packaging large products: 10 boxes per minute, right on time, right on size, right in sequence.
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When the operator receives a box, he scans the code that has been printed on it, which tells him what goods to take from the sorter to complete the shipment. Once a box is ready, he puts it on another conveyor to the second machine that makes customized lids (covers) to close the trays (boxes).
At a rhythm of ten boxes per minute the machine, that packs multiple products with a the sophisticated choreography of the intern logistics, create a highly efficient order fulfillment process that wouldn’t have been possible without the optimizations created in the simulation.