Mouser’s vice president, EMEA marketing, Graham Maggs explains how state-of-the-art automation is driving efficiency improvements in its warehouses and distribution centre.
Adoption of start-of-the-art automation boosts efficiency and lowers costs. It also drives more sustainable operations and improved customer satisfaction. Mouser’s commitment to investing in new technology in its warehousing and distribution facilities can be seen by the adoption of the I-Pack system. This automated packing/boxing machine can process up to 14 orders a minute, allowing it to deal with incoming orders for electronic components in a faster and more flexible way.
The I-Pack process starts with building the order fulfilment boxes in four standard sizes. The boxes are designed to be exactly the right size, eliminating the shipping of ‘air’, which saves valuable space on trucks and aeroplanes. Once the operator has chosen the correct box size, the machine performs automatic folding and gluing. Bubble wrap is automatically inserted and the product placed inside. An automatic void measurement and folding process ensures that the products are optimally secured in the box. The machine automatically places the lid and closes the pack, ready for dispatch.
I-Pack delivers several operational advantages. Firstly, it automatically forms cardboard trays quicker than by hand. The automatic void measurement process, which correctly positions components inside the right size box, eliminates the need for hand stuffing packing material, saving more time and reducing ‘air’ waste. Automated sealing and gluing further streamlines the process.
Regarding sustainability, the process reduces bubble wrap usage by more than 1.5 million square feet each year.
Alongside I-Pack, there are other ways new technology is making a difference. Mouser’s 1Mft2 global headquarters and distribution centre in Texas, USA houses the largest installation of Vertical Lift Modules (VLMs) in North America.
VLMs are essentially giant vertical filing cabinets, complete with shelves and an automated elevator, which store tens of thousands of electronic components. VLMs deliver parts directly to the workstation, increasing efficiency and floor space. The machines have been shown to reduce an employee’s walking time by 45 per cent or higher. A total of 55 VLMs are installed at the Texas facility, housing up to 120,000 parts. Mouser’s 24-hour global distribution centre handles tens of thousands of orders per day, processing and shipping (same day in most cases) to over 630,000 customers in more than 220 countries/territories.