Staples Inc., Walgreen Co., and the online shoe store Zappos.com have embarked on a new approach to picking in their warehouses. Instead of employees moving to various locations to pick items, these companies now use a specially designed system of autonomous orange robots that speed around distribution centers deftly picking goods that they deliver to worker ‚â€œpicking stations.‚â€ The robots were designed by engineers at Kiva Systems Inc., Woburn, Mass., who used SolidWorks CAD software.
In addition to the robots, the engineers designed an array of computers, scanners, and laser pointers for these picking stations.
The Kiva Mobile Fulfillment System‚â€™s breakthrough approach to order fulfillment improves picking speed, accuracy, and flexibility. Workers stand in one place while the products come to them on the orange robotic drive units. Pallets, cases, and orders are stored on inventory pods that are picked up and moved by the fleet. As a result, the product can go to any operator.
A fleet of robotic pickers brings items to workers to prepare for shipment rather than have
employees pick items.
The software helped the engineering team develop a revolutionary lift mechanism for the robotic drive unit. Based on a helical ball bearing, the Kiva robot rises and falls as it spins, stopping itself at the right height to grab shelf units it will carry to a picking station, where workers collect and box goods for shipping. Kiva manufacturing workers also use SolidWorks software to manage bills of materials when engineering changes occur.
‚â€œOur design challenges were to obtain high performance from our products at a reasonable cost,‚â€ said Brett Anderson, senior mechanical engineer. ‚â€œSolidWorks simplified custom configurations of any part or assembly, not to mention initial part design, and many of our vendors use the software themselves. The COSMOSWorks‚Â® design validation software helped us design for strength and material economy on the robotic drive unit. The PDMWorks‚Â® data management software helped us manage revisions, and its eDrawings‚Â® collaboration software helped streamline communication with engineering colleagues, marketers, and clients.‚â€
:: Design World ::
Filed Under: 3D CAD, Software