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Customer-driven product development resulted in the

New king of the tote warehouse

Cimcorp 3D Shuttle developmentCrate handling by CimcorpDesigning Cimcorp 3D ShuttleHandling trays of mail

When Cimcorp’s sales manager Jarno Honkanen and technology director Jyrki Anttonen are asked how the product development work on the Cimcorp 3D Shuttle came about, they answer in unison: from listening to the customer

The aim of Cimcorp’s product development is simple: offering customers systems that meet their needs. During its history, the company has developed several automation products that can be customized for many different applications in different areas - but from time to time challenges arise that demand something totally new. The new Cimcorp 3D Shuttle automatic storage and retrieval system for goods-to-man order picking is the answer to such challenges.

“Product development work stemmed from the customer’s need to store a larger amount of products than with the conventional MultiPick system,” says Jyrki.

Generally in such situations, the starting point is the adaptation of an existing product for a particular purpose. “In this case however, we very quickly realized that our products couldn’t be molded to the task in the way we wanted,” states Jarno.

Creative problem solving

Each Cimcorp product development process progresses in line with a predetermined model, taking into account customer requirements. As products are designed for different purposes and on the basis of different kinds of demands, no two development processes are ever exactly alike. Nevertheless, the Cimcorp 3D Shuttle development process did not start completely from scratch: a new robot series purpose-built for the tire industry and MultiPick grippers were ready to be used.

“We were able to utilize the mechanics and control concept of the MBR700+ series robot, as well as the MultiPick grippers, in the new system. With small modifications, they could be adapted for the needs of the customer and thus the new Cimcorp 3D Shuttle system,” says Jyrki.

In addition to the technology, all the necessary knowhow was also found in-house.

“Over 200 people work at Cimcorp, all specialists in their own field, and the most suitable team for the needs of each project is hand-picked. In-house design is divided between the various departments. The sales department is responsible for the overall system compatibility and system design, and the product development side, in turn, focuses more on equipment and attention to detail. Often, the entire company is fully involved in these projects and everyone’s expertise is available if required,” explains Jarno.

“Over the years, we have supplied our customers with a wide range of automation solutions for various industries, for handling and transporting a variety of products. Our experience naturally provides us with a solid base for developing new products. Product development projects are led by people who have strong knowhow within the particular sector concerned,” continues Jyrki.

Besides physical robots, the software for controlling the automation systems is also developed at Cimcorp.

”Software is playing a more and more prominent role in automation systems, and a lot of in-depth expertise is also required in product development. When this software know-how is combined with Cimcorp’s extensive expertise in system development, we are able to deliver solutions to customers on a turnkey principle, from a single location,” says Jyrki.

Appropriate tailor-made work

Jarno and Jyrki both agree that customer needs played a key role in the product development process for the Cimcorp 3D Shuttle, as with everything else in product development.

Feedback from the customers is also crucial after installation.

”In this case, the requirements that could not be met with our existing technology led to the creation of a new type of order picking system,” says Jyrki.

”The communication channels with the customer remain open after delivery. Thus we can monitor how the system we supplied has been working and, if required, react and develop the solutions further,” adds Jarno.

Efficiency through simplicity

The new Cimcorp 3D Shuttle order picking system has even been characterized as revolutionary. The benefits for users are quite substantial: six times greater order picking efficiency than in conventional manual order picking, up to 1000 retrieved totes per hour, and for example excellent storage capacity with minimal amount of equipment.

“A reduced number of devices simplifies factory layout design and decreases the amount of conveyor meterage required. A small number of devices also reduces the need for maintenance and increases availability,” says Jarno.

“No-rack storage also delivers clear benefits. The ease of cleaning the floor enables a high level of hygiene, and fire protection solutions can readily be implemented in the floor storage area,” adds Jyrki.

Successful product development is also shown by the fact that the system can be adapted for many different applications.

“The Cimcorp 3D Shuttle has opened up a new world of plastic tote handling. The same product is ideal not only for use in distribution centers for daily consumer goods, but also for instance for mail tray sequencing, warehouses for major e-tailers, and the automotive industry,” states Jarno.

CIMCORP 3D SHUTTLE – THIS IS HOW IT WORK

In the Cimcorp 3D Shuttle system, products in plastic totes are stored on the warehouse floor under a large gantry robot. The totes are fed to the area in stacks and retrieved individually.
Product totes are stacked on a conveyor, from which the robot takes them to the storage space below the robot. When you want to retrieve a product tote from the system to move it to the order picking station for example, the robot retrieves the product tote and transfers it using the shuttle device at the speed of lightning for further transport by the conveyor system.

 TEXT: TOTTI TOISKALLIO PHOTOS: ARTO HELIN

Jyrki Anttonen
Technology director Jyrki Anttonen, Cimcorp Oy
No-rack storage also delivers clear benefits. The ease of cleaning the floor enables a high level of hygiene, and fire protection solutions can readily be implemented in the floor storage area