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Automated replenishment optimizes manual order picking

Nov 15, 2006 Cimcorp Headquarter

Cimcorp’s MultiPick system automatically picks every full crate of products to be delivered to the customers. The smallest unit that is order-picked automatically is a single crate. Split crates are picked manually.

Manual picking is improved considerably when an extra feature is added to MultiPick, allowing replenishment crates to be transferred automatically to the manual picking racks. Automated replenishment accelerates order picking and reduces picking errors. In practice, a replenishment transfer car runs between the MultiPick robot and the manual picking racks, moving the replenishment stacks from the outfeed conveyors under MultiPick to the order picking racks in line with the rhythm of manual picking. The MultiPick robot collects the products going to the manual picking racks from the stock on the floor under the robot.

The Cimcorp Warehouse Control System (WCS) that guides order picking combines the needs of the manual picking area and the operation of MultiPick. When a product required in manual order picking falls below the alarm limit, MultiPick fetches the necessary replenishment batch from the stock and delivers it to the replenishment transfer car feed conveyor. Replenishment may take place with individual crates or crate stacks. The stacks in that case are mixed product stacks picked for the manual picking area.

Replenishment transfer car operation 

The replenishment transfer car runs empty to the outfeed conveyor of the MultiPick system and a stack from the MultiPick area is placed on board. Then the transfer car moves to the channel to be replenished and rises at the same time to the right height. The conveyor under the stack in the transfer car is thus at the height of the base of the flow-through-channel. The lifting device in the car grips the stack and lifts it so that a maximum of the three lowest replenishment crates remain on the transfer car conveyor. The conveyor is started and moves the crates into the flow-through-channel. If another stack can also be moved into the same channel, the elevator lowers the stack onto the conveyor, again grips the stack at the right point, lifts it up and the conveyor transfers the crates into the channel.

Finally, the stack in the transfer car is lowered onto the transfer car conveyor and the transfer car simultaneously moves to the next channel for replenishment. When the transfer car has been emptied, it fetches a new replenishment stack.