This case history about NASA comes courtesy of Dematic. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.
Since its inception in 1958, NASA has accomplished many great scientific and technological feats in air and space. When inefficiencies were discovered in their logistics complex, NASA partnered with Dematic Corp. to automate their parts fulfillment operation.
The challenge: inefficient parts selection
Prior to automating their order fulfillment system, NASA’s logistics complex at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida had workers retrieve components by hand without the use of Radio Frequency (RF) or barcode technology. After each item was picked, it was placed on a conveyor system that would take it to its destination.
The overall result was a labor intensive and inefficient process. NASA required a sophisticated system to eradicate these issues.
The solution: automating parts fulfillment
Dematic designed a solution that included an Automatic Guided Vehicle System (AGVS) and an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS) that interfaced with the existing conveyor network. With the new process, components are received and processed for storage by part number and entered into the Warehouse Management System (WMS). This software system tracks parts from receiving to their final destination and keeps real-time inventory data. Items are sorted according to size.
Large items are moved by AGVs to pick-up and delivery stations where forklifts move them into storage. Smaller items are placed into totes, and then placed on AGVs for delivery to workstations that process and enter components into the AS/RS system.
Component Retrieval and Order Fulfillment Component requests can be placed from anywhere within the Kennedy Space Center. Large component orders are moved by forklifts to pick-up and delivery stations where AGVs deliver them to shipping stations. Small component orders are received at AS/RS workstations where operators use the AS/RS system to retrieve the tray(s) with the required parts. Once retrieved, the components are placed into totes which travel via conveyor to an AGV workstation. AGVs then deliver the totes of small components to shipping. The components are checked for accuracy before being loaded into a delivery truck and sent to their final destination within the complex.
The results are in
Kennedy Space Center has a more efficient order fulfillment system requiring less labor, improving order accuracy and providing greater inventory visibility. Orders are received and processed automatically. All components can be delivered to their required location within a half hour. During peak times, the system can deliver up to 200 components per hour. The previous processing rate before automation was only 94 components per hour.
- Faster delivery of components through efficient processes
- Increased accuracy through automated pick and delivery
- Reduced labor cost through automated processing
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