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EU: Order processing solution for fruit and veg

Fully automated systems are not always feasible in fresh produce distribution centres which have both crate handling and other operations, such as manual order picking, handling of whole pallets or handling of items in cardboard cases, here a combination of logistics technologies is best.

Cimcorp, one of the leading companies for robotics systems worldwide, has a solution. The company can provide order processing islands which can be a highly effective solution for automating the handling of full crates. In this way, the islands are ideal for the handling of fresh fruit and vegetables within the distribution networks of large grocery retailers.

Order processing islands
An order processing island is clearly defined within the surrounding manual environment, with product pallets going in and customer pallets coming out. The island prepares orders for retail stores, enabling them to be transported to the supermarkets without the need for any further processing. The island is self-sufficient, taking care of goods reception; put-away; location of stored items; retrieval planning; picking of crates; sorting and assembly of crates into discrete orders; and loading of the orders onto transport units ready for delivery.

How it works
Cimcorp’s order processing solution for plastic crates uses robots that operate on an overhead gantry to combine buffer storage and order picking functions into one flexible operation. The robots handle, store and pick crates of product in stacks. With the gantry design being modular and able to accommodate any number of robots, the system can handle large volumes with ease. Goods arrive at the island by
conveyor in stacks of crates that contain just one stock-keeping unit (SKU). A robot
collects the stack and stores it on the floor within its working envelope, before
either collecting another stack or moving into order picking mode. For picking, the
robot moves to the relevant stack for the first product of the order. After picking the required number of crates of this SKU, the robot moves to the next product, and
so on. When the stack being picked is complete, the robot either stores it for dispatch later or sends it to a transport unit loading station where it is moved
onto a pallet or into a roll container.

Key features
As the system is modular, it can be constructed in phases and expanded to accommodate the number of islands needed for a particular throughput, with typical daily volumes of 25,000 to 40,000 crates per island. The solution can process hundreds of different SKUs for hundreds of stores, with each island able to handle several different types and sizes of crate.

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