04 October 2022

Two Birds, One Stone: Dorabot’s Solution to Tackle Both Unloading and Palletizing

Project Background: Meet Future Forwarding

Future Forwarding is an industry leader in the world of third-party logistics (3PL), providing unique solutions for its growing list of clientele. Their aim is to offer a forward-thinking and innovative approach to logistics through offering customized transportation options for a variety of sectors. By maintaining partnerships with numerous carriers, Future Forwarding is able to create and execute cost-efficient freight planning without sacrificing personalization.

As their operations continue to expand and they face greater demand, Future Forwarding has grappled with the pains of handling freight on such a large scale. Labor shortages have made it a challenge to meet staffing needs, especially for a process that requires strenuous activity, such as unloading and palletizing. The pandemic has only exacerbated this issue, leading to unexpected sick time off, sometimes for weeks at a time. 

The extremely detailed requirements for palletizing presented yet another issue. Both single and multi-SKU palletizing demands great attention to detail, including identical case and label alignment. This level of needed perfection can be difficult for human workers to provide without fail, and with so many expecting clients and customers, there isn’t much room for error.

When it comes to receiving shipments, consistent arrivals are not guaranteed. The number of inbound containers can differ day by day, hour by hour, making it difficult to predict the amount of operators needed to move things along. One day may see hours of high-volume shipments, followed by a period of very little activity. When finding labor is already an issue, it’s essential that staff is utilized when and where needed, which can be nearly impossible to determine.

Dorabot’s Solution

Dorabot is no stranger to solving the struggles of manual palletizing. The DoraPalletizer has been the key to increased efficiency and throughput for a number of logistics operations. The system is equipped with advanced vision and load planning software, ensuring that both single and mixed SKU pallets are built accurately, and with the most optimal use of space. 

The DoraPalletizer’s robotic arm is equipped with a pneumatic end-of-arm tool, allowing it to take hold of packages in a variety of sizes. With a payload of up to 200 pounds and the ability to build pallets up to 120 inches tall, operators’ risks of injury and strain are all but eliminated.

However, the building of pallets starts with an equally painstaking process: unloading shipping containers. The physical effort required to repeatedly transfer heavy boxes and items from the dock to be palletized is a demanding task for any operator. Dorabot’s solution to this challenge? The integration of the DoraPalletizer and Gorbel’s DeStuff-IT conveyor system.

DeStuff-IT is geared directly toward unloading shipping containers and trailers, speeding up and easing the aches of this arduous process. Portable and ergonomic, the conveyor system can quickly adapt to the operator’s needs, allowing for an easier transfer of shipments into the DoraPalletizer. The result is a nuanced and innovative solution that could address each of Future Forwarding’s needs in detail.

Results and Highlights

With the adoption of this integrated technology, Future Forwarding saw an increase in its productivity from start to finish of the palletizing process. With an ergonomic conveyor system in place, shipping containers are cleared three times faster than the previous manual operation.

Each DoraPalletizer cell is able to complete the process for upwards of 500 cases per hour. However, improving speed doesn’t mean sacrificing precision at all, as the DoraPalletizer has ensured Future Forwarding a 99% sorting accuracy rate. Multiple scanners allow for more successful barcode reads, and a leading to correctly built pallets every time.

With each of these improvements comes increased optimization of the limited available labor. As operators are no longer expected to work increased hours and tend to taxing workloads, the overall functionality of the operation is improved. Managers no longer have to experience the pressure of filling shift gaps with a team that’s already stretched thin.

Also eliminated are many of the physical risks associated with unloading and palletizing. The strain placed on the body from continuous bending and heavy lifting can lead to fatigue, muscle pain, and even musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)–the number one workplace injury to cause sick time off. With the adjustable conveyor system transporting units, operators do not have to worry about carrying heavy boxes over long distances to prepare them for palletization. The same goes for the palletizing process, which, when done manually, has height limitations set in place to avoid potential injury. Robotic palletizing takes your operation beyond its limits, all while supporting both the health and peace of mind of your operators.

The operational aches and pains faced by Future Forwarding likely feel familiar to any burgeoning logistics, e-Commerce, or manufacturing company. In a time when the bar for timeliness and efficiency is on a steady rise, the potential benefits of new technology, specifically AI, can be crucial to your operation’s success. 

Are you currently envisioning the future of your business? Let Dorabot help.