GENCO Supply Chain Solutions

April 16, 2009
Achieves immediate ROI with industrial mobile robot tugger. The results—reduced labor costs, streamlined trash removal processes and fewer carts in use.

This case history about GENCO comes courtesy of Seegrid. It has been selected and edited by the MHM editorial staff for clarity, content and style.

The Challenge
GENCO Supply Chain Solutions is North America’s second largest provider of supply chain services. The company manages 120 operations and over 34 million square feet of warehouse space for a diverse range of retail, manufacturing and government customers. GENCO pioneered the practice of “reverse logistics,” or processing the goods returned by customers to major retailers. In GENCO’s reverse logistics center in Grove City, Ohio, goods returned to retailers are sorted, stripped of their packaging and packed into boxes for delivery to contract wholesalers. This creates plenty of garbage--enough to fill 30 or more carts in a single shift. Once a cart is full, a teammate must walk it approximately 380 meters to the trash compactor where it is unloaded, then takes an empty cart back to the work area. This time-consuming work takes teammates away from their primary duties and creates bottlenecks of work for those responsible for trash compacting at the end of each shift.

The Solution
GENCO is committed to providing value and the industry’s best customer experience. As part of its continuous improvement, GENCO was looking to reduce the costs associated with processing returns. GENCO learned of a new solution from Seegrid Corp. The GT3 is the industry’s first industrial mobile robot tugger that transports materials and finished goods without wire guides, magnets, lasers and human intervention. The GT3 employs Seegrid’s patented Industrial Mobile Robotics (IMR) technology which enables it to move through manufacturing, warehousing and distribution operations utilizing stereo cameras to build a reliable 3D map of the environment. The GT3 then uses the map and its own reasoning ability to navigate a predetermined path to complete its assigned transport task. The GT3 was purpose built to do facility-wide transport.

GENCO initiated a two-week pilot program using the GT3 to automatically haul full carts to the trash compactor and return with empty carts for teammates to use on the line. The GT3’s paths were installed in about an hour and teammates were trained to use the GT3 the same morning.

The Results
Now compacting teammates send the GT3 with empty carts while line teammates replace the empty carts with full carts and send them back to the compactor. Using the GT3, teammates are not interrupted and are able to stay focused on their primary work, walking only 5-10 meters to the GT3 to swap carts instead of 380 meters to the compactor.

The trial yielded extremely positive results for GENCO. The GT3:
• Realized 100% operational uptime
• Experienced 97.5% path completion rate (including human-caused errors)
• Regulated the flow of trash from the production line to the trash compacter resulting in more consistent work and less end-of-day pileups
• Eliminated need to manage large inventory of empty trash bins
• Offered dramatic ROI for GENCO with a 12-month payback

“Our facility is a product returns processing center for our customer (a major retailer) where, as you might imagine, we process a large volume of packaging waste which needs to be cleared and moved to disposal areas to keep the operation productive,” said Gary Siefert, Vice President of Customer Service at GENCO Supply Chain Solutions. “We use the GT3 to move the packaging material waste from numerous work stations spread throughout our facility to a central disposal point. The GT3 is constantly traveling along its designated route, driving productivity and freeing up our teammates to perform other more valuable work. After utilizing the GT3 for a number of weeks we were able to determine that the ROI on the GT3 was outstanding.”

Shortly after the trial GENCO purchased the GT3 and continues to reap the benefits today. welcomes relevant, exclusive case histories that explain in specific detail the business benefits that new software and material-handling equipment has provided to specific users. Send submissions to Mary Aichlmayr([email protected]), MHM Editor. All submissions will be edited for clarity, content and style.