Gearing up for trade show season

cimcorp trade show

Introducing 3D Shuttle at Logimat 2013

Every year marketing departments review the validity of using trade shows as one of their marketing tools for brand awareness and lead generation. This is no different at RMT and Cimcorp.  We spend a great deal of time reviewing a list of shows that will showcase our systems best and try to determine if the investment will be worth the outcome.  It’s not a cheap endeavor to exhibit at a trade show and if you’ve been exhibiting for many years you are often well known in the industry and lose the value of achieving brand awareness or new lead captures.

Ultimately our decision to attend depends on what we have new to bring to market, and in 2014 RMT and Cimcorp have some very innovative solutions to introduce. This year we will be promoting 3D shuttle, a new crate picking solution, layer pick, a solution for corrugate case, and new innovations tire handling.

Shows we will be attending this year:

MODEX 2014
March 17th-20th, Atlanta, GA
Sales representatives will be showcasing layer picking technology at the Westfalia
booth #9723.

http://www.modexshow.com/default.aspx

CeMAT 2014
May 19th-23rd, Hannover Germany
We will present our automatic order picking solutions. Live demonstration of Cimcorp  3D Shuttle goods-to-man solution! Alongside Cimcorp, RMT sales representatives will be available to answer questions regarding crate and case picking solutions.

http://www.cemat.de/home

RubberTech China 2014
December 3-5, 2014 

Shanghai, China
www.rubbertech.com.cn

We hope to see you at one of the shows above! And we would love to have your feedback regarding trade show attendance.  Tell us your thoughts on exhibiting at a trade show and if you are attending one of the shows above, what you hope to get out of the show.

Thank you!

Taking care of our capital

Ilpo Nummelin, Business Unit Director, Customer Support

Ilpo Nummelin, Business Unit Director, Customer Support

Work productivity has increased seven-fold during my lifetime. This increase has been enabled by investments in human capital, investments in machines and equipment, and technological development. A good company is in fact recognized by the fact that it takes good care of its capital – both human and physical.

Human capital is invested in people. This capital develops and grows through experience and training, in other words, through improved expertise. We take care of human capital by investing in people’s welfare, training, and safety.

In industrialized countries, the role of the individual employee is now much more important than earlier. Production has been automated to a great extent, there are fewer employees to oversee it, and systems have become more complicated. Therefore looking after human capital is even more crucial than ever.

Besides people, we also need production equipment: machines and the automation to control them. The more efficient the production equipment, the more profitable the company’s business and the higher the return on capital employed. Production equipment plays a key role on the corporate balance sheet. Investments are significant, profit expectations are high, and they should have a long lifetime. We take care of the productivity of the equipment through continuous maintenance and regular updates, which take into account changes in production. The necessary support agreements are made to ensure continuity of production.

Whatever the type of property, it needs taking care of. The measures mentioned above should largely be seen as the care of property. In order to implement them, a comprehensive plan covering the entire life span is required, which is followed systematically. Neglecting the plan creates a “liability” and thus a risk that the production equipment and its users will not function optimally.

Cooperation and continuous development play a key role in maintaining and growing productivity. Efficient production chain is the union of skilled personnel and effective technology, so let’s take care of both!

If you would like to read more about this subject and other industry related news and announcements then check out Cimcorp’s online magazine, Pick.  A new edition has just been posted here.Pick Magazine

Ilpo Nummelin, Business Unit Director, Customer Support

Make the SHIFT!

By Lori Vaughan, Marketing, RMT Robotics

It’s been a while since our last blog post but it’s for a good reason, we’re SO busy!  There have been conferences to attend, new systems being built and tested, but on the fun side we had a visit from the MakeShift robotics team from St. Mary Catholic Secondary School and they brought along Fling, their 2013 competing robot for First Robotics.

MakeShift robotics and their robot Fling

MakeShift robotics and their robot Fling

It was so nice to meet this innovative group of teenagers that have taken such an keen interest in robotics.  The group enthusiastically displayed all the design features of their robot to the RMT Engineering staff followed by a demonstration of Flings flinging ability.

Having teenagers of my own, I know how difficult it can be to engage this age group in something more technical than a video game or social media, so I was really struck by the high level of professionalism, enthusiasm and pride that they displayed.  They were truly a remarkable group!

Last week it was” bring your child to work day” so I brought my 14 year old daughter thinking that she should find my work in marketing interesting, after all a big part of my job is working in social media, so this should be right up her alley. But instead, the best part of her day was getting to control ADAM, RMT’s autonomous mobile robot.  When asked by her father how her day went with mom, the first thing she said was “I got to drive an ADAM!”  So I guess mom isn’t so cool after all, I was upstaged by a mobile robot!

Actually, I’m thrilled to be upstaged by a robot, after all, ADAM is pretty amazing. And hey, anytime teenagers find it more interesting to be involved in robotic technology over tweeting their every move is a good sign for the future of robotics!
Fling

If you’re interested in learning more about the MakeShift team visit their website at www.4039.ca

To learn more about First Robotics in Canada visit: http://www.firstroboticscanada.org/main/

For the US visit: http://www.usfirst.org/

Perfection

This column below still makes me smile when I read it.  It’s from the second edition of Pick magazine in 2011. The author talks about the humorous idea of modeling robots after humans including our imperfections, could you imagine it? Every time I see a headline like “Robots becoming more human like” I cringe…let’s hope that never happens, or really, what would be the point in creating it in the first place?

Perfectioni-robot-520566d587c8b

After much consideration, I have come to the conclusion that human beings are not perfect.

The part that took such a long time was admitting the fact. I wish I were an enviable elite individual, whose every thought and deed would shine brightly, and well, perfectly. But just striving for perfection required so much mental and physical energy that I have given up hope of even trying. Luckily, I am not alone in this; I believe that nobody is perfect. Human beings, homo sapiens, are not perfect as a species.

But there is one way that people can get close to perfection.  Namely outsourcing.  People have outsourced their aspirations to perfection onto objects, goods and systems. To be accurate, outsourcing has not happened completely willingly, but by creating the market economy, people have to try to manufacture the most perfect goods possible. Competition is too hard to settle for laziness, incompleteness, standing still. Competition allows only momentary self-congratulation, a brief moment of feeling good, after which you have to take a deep breath and start to perfect the product that you thought was already absolutely complete.

In the Christian faith, it is claimed that God created Man in his own image, but in the marketing faith Man has not created goods as a copy of himself. If a robot were made by duplicating my traits and characteristics, the end result would be tragicomic. An order picking robot that slumped in the middle of the working day to ponder the iniquities of the world and how he was losing his hair would be a strange sight in a factory hall. A robot that started to snap at his work environment, due to temporarily running out of steam or getting bored, would immediately be attacked by an army of engineers trying to locate the fault. Nobody would quietly mutter that he just woke up on the wrong side of the bed; he’ll get over it.

After all, it is enormous luck that human beings are allowed to be imperfect, sometimes even total failures. This leniency towards failure has even gone so far that Facebook has a Failure Day. I think that’s crazy. I don’t need a Failure Day, because I fail daily at something, usually small harmless things, fortunately. Like this column.

Lights-out picking at Finland’s largest dairy

On my last blog submission I wrote that I would be featuring some of my favorite column submissions from our corporate magazine.  I’m interrupting these submissions to bring you an article written about a Dairy solution in Finland. Why you ask? Well it’s because I’m so excited about the announcement we made yesterday about RMT’s first crate picking solution in the dairy industry in North America (you can read the press release here) that I wanted to provide some insight and background into an already proven solution in Finland.

So without further ado, I bring to you the article written about our installation at Valio, first published in the 2010 edition of Pick Magazine:

valio dairy logoValio – nowadays the largest dairy products company in Finland – was established in 1905 to help boost the export of Finnish butter. At that time no one would have believed that in the space of 100 years of operation, 200 million kg of products would be order picked by robot. Currently the Valio product portfolio includes about 750 chilled products, a third of which are picked using the Cimcorp MultiPick robot system. Besides the robots, the WCS system in particular has received a lot of praise, as it enables the monitoring of real-time operations in all the warehouses, including those where order picking is still largely carried out manually.

Finland is one of the major consumers of milk in the world. According to the statistics, annual consumption of milk is just less than 140 liters per capita – 86 percent of which is produced by Valio. When you add the hundreds of other dairy items to the different milk products, the production volumes are staggering: annually Valio delivers 750 million kilograms of products to its customers. In terms of order lines, that is about 45 million lines a year.

As far as fresh foods are concerned, accuracy and speed of delivery are naturally of top priority. Demands for efficiency in Valio’s order picking and dispatch operations have been addressed in part by automating both warehousing and order picking.

valio dairyAbout 450 million kg of products go through the main warehouses in Riihimäki and Jyväskylä. “About half of the volumes picked in the main warehouses are picked by Cimcorp gantry robots. Automation plays a significant role in both warehousing and dispatch operations, as about 60% of all our products are picked in these warehouses,” says Heli Helminen, warehouse operations manager at Valio. No labor is required for the volumes picked by the Cimcorp gantry robots other than to roll finished orders onto trucks.

As well as the robots, Helminen has special praise for Cimcorp’s WCS (warehouse control software), which has enabled realtime monitoring and reporting of warehouse operations.Cimcorp

“We also use Cimcorp’s warehouse control software alongside SAP in Tampere and Oulu, where products are picked manually. The WCS provides us with the necessary transparency, and monitoring of operations can also be done between the various warehouses. In our view, this is one of Cimcorp’s real selling points,” says Helminen.

Apart from the direct effects of the Cimcorp WCS system, Valio has also enjoyed some indirect benefits. When the company implemented voice-directed picking at the Oulu site in 2007, one of the reconditions was setting up warehouse control software.

“There are over 100 order pickers on the payroll at our Oulu warehouse, whose work used to be based on printed lists. Now the lists have been replaced with headsets and their hands are free. Thanks to the voice-directed system many traditional work stages can be bypassed, and thereby we have increased the efficiency and accuracy of our operations.”

From minimum to maximum

As well as the key benefit of cost efficiency, Helminen believes that the Cimcorp automation systems have also achieved other important results. Order picking errors have been minimized, and the effective throughput, storage, and picking of large volumes have been facilitated.

“The robot systems have enabled an efficient and rapid flow for high volume products. In other words we can get products very quickly from production to the stores. In the best case scenario, milk can move from the packing section to the consumer’s refrigerator within six hours!” says Helminen.

And since the products move so quickly from production to stores, monitoring also has to be kept continually up to speed.

“In dairies that make fresh products, the timeliest packing possible according to actual demand is an essential factor in practical terms. These challenges have been answered by adding the pull control application to the WCS. This allows us to monitor customer orders and production volumes minute by minute.”

Although the situation in relation to efficient use of time is now looking good, Helminen thinks that the demands of the supply chain will grow even more in the future. As product ranges expand and the markets grow, operators in the sector will be expected to manage their business on an even larger scale.

“We have continuous cooperation with Cimcorp, in particular regarding software development. The results have been impressive and I believe that we will continue to see more positive improvements in the future,” smiles Helminen.

“We wanted to safeguard production capacity and its growth as the number of product items increases, and also to improve product throughput and, as a result, productivity,” say supervisor Martti Tervala and maintenance manager Tero Ruusuvirta of the Valio Jyväskylä warehouse.

These objectives have been achieved as far as the automated buffer is concerned. The bottlenecks between production and order picking have been reduced and cross-traffic in the order consolidation area has decreased. In addition, the fill ratio of the dollies has improved and there are more alternatives for product location.

“The automated buffer allows us to distribute the order picking of routes to several robot frames when necessary or to carry out prepicking in the buffer during peak times. This is also reflected in better delivery accuracy for our customers,” says Tervala.

Double the gripping efficiency

Order picking, particularly of slow movers and products manufactured more infrequently, has also been optimized thanks to the buffer. In the dairy industry, the expiry date plays a crucial role and special attention has to be paid to optimizing the inventory turnover of fresh products.valio images

“The new storage area facilitates the buffering of products. Consequently, each robot frame can be utilized to full capacity, as there are always products available for picking. Buffering also frees up more space for the robots for daily order picking,” says Ruusuvirta.

The peripheral equipment supplied to the Jyväskylä buffer storage includes MultiPick Dual grippers instead of standard grippers. MultiPick Dual grippers are able to handle two different crate stacks at the same time. In practice, this doubles efficiency.

“The number of cycles is halved both in picking and deposit, and the extra capacity of the transfer robot can be used to handle mixed stacks with a single gripper,” explains Tervala.

The new buffering system has also brought changes in the warehouse work routines. In particular, more possibilities are now available to the systems operator for storing different products. “For example, the realtime control of mass transfers made from the buffer to the order-picking robot is reflected in an improvement in overall capacity. The system enables us to deal with order picking and replenishment of the picking storage at just the right time. Likewise, it offers more alternatives for production control,” comment Tervala and Ruusuvirta.

The buffering system, which has been in operation for almost a year, has proved a profitable investment. Valio was also pleased with the straightforward installation project. “Construction proceeded according to plan and the installation work did not cause any disruption to production or customer deliveries.

I hope you enjoyed this article and I look forward to bringing you a write up in 2014 about the project at Kroger in Denver Colorado!

Watch a video demonstration.

Big and Small

Lori Vaughan
Marketing Coordinator
RMT Robotics Ltd.

In 2010 RMT Robotics was acquired by Cimcorp Oy in Finland and since that time we (our two companies) have been working closely, sharing ideas, and developing automated systems that reflect our collective knowledge.   Although the bulk of the collaboration revolves around engineering, it also extends to marketing as well.

One of the first things I noticed when sitting down with the Cimcorp marketing team was just how similar our marketing techniques were and the tools we were using to get our message to market.  One of those tools was a corporate magazine which both our companies produced individually, theirs called PICK and ours called STACKED. Both magazines contain great articles and columns that we have shared with our customers for years. One day when I was rereading the magazines I realized that these needed to be shared with the industry in general so we launched our blog Pick.

Many of the contributions are strictly interest stories, not necessarily robotics related but often fit the theme of the magazine issue.  I find them both fun and informative!

Over the next few weeks Pick posts will be some of my favorite guest column submissions over the years.  I hope you enjoy them as much I do!

Here’s the first submission from Toni Lehto and published in the 2nd edition of Pick back in 2008. This edition of the magazine had a running theme of energy efficiency and the effects of increasing oil costs on manufacturing and distribution. Although the article is 5 years old, the trend Toni points out still stands true today.

COLUMN submitted by: TONI LEHTO

Big and small

Everything has always been big in the US: houses, automobiles, gestures, speeches, and people. Even the size of a plate has been growing constantly and these days it has a diameter of thirty centimeters. You can get four hamburgers and a kilo of fries on a plate like that.

Now, however, the voices of doom can be heard coming out of America. I don’t mean the hype about the banking crisis but the fact that autos are becoming smaller. You could almost say that they are shrinking before our very eyes.n a plate like that.

car_image

This is certainly not because Americans don’t want to drive around in big cars; no way, they would launch a moon rocket onto the world’s biggest markets if it were only possible. The cold fact is that the oil price is making cars smaller.

If I were a cynical person, I might wonder about the paradoxes of cars getting smaller and people getting bigger. I could be smart and say that if the situation continues the mathematical and physiological facts will come to a critical point. But instead of shooting my mouth off I will happily welcome the trend, because when cars get smaller it saves the environment. On condition that people don’t replace their one big car with two small ones.

When automobiles are small enough, I am going to buy one for myself. And so I will send a message to the auto industry: the more cars shrink in size, the more cars will be bought. Undeniably this seems at first sight a step that is hostile to the environment, but since huge numbers of cars are being purchased all over the world, it is better to support the least polluting models.

As a matter of fact, I already bought the tires for my future car. My economic resources don’t stretch to buying a car all in one go, so I have to proceed one part at a time. Next I’ll buy a crankshaft.  A crankshaft sounds ceremonial, so it must be important. I have been led to understand that tires won’t go round without a crankshaft.

The tires I bought are small and black. I keep them in my bedroom, in case there are thieves about. Thieves are not dumb; they know that small cars are nimble. They can make tight U-turns in complex bank robbery chase scenes. What’s more, the bad guys are a savvy bunch: they want to take their own responsibility for the planet!

 

How to Benefit From Global Expertise in Your Own Backyard

Andrew Bell Customer Care Manager RMT Robotics

Andrew Bell
Customer Care Manager
RMT Robotics

It’s a familiar story. Companies purchasing expensive automation solutions traditionally had to choose between the seeming convenience of a local partner and the proven performance of a global partner. It was a high-stakes decision with weighty consequences. And no matter which choice a company made, there was always a price to pay.

But that particular story is now more like a historical footnote. The world is shrinking and today, the home base of a supplier is much less important than its ability to quickly respond with the right skills and expertise. It’s now business-as-usual to work with suppliers anywhere in the world. And if they have a regional presence, well, that’s an added bonus.

It makes sense, really. In our rapidly transforming world, manufacturers are being squeezed to meet the ever-increasing expectations of a 24/7 global marketplace. And automation systems, often responsible for 100% of output, must work tirelessly and efficiently, around the clock.

Downtime is simply not an option.

Thankfully, technology of every kind is leading the way to help connect people and companies around the world. In fact, it’s changing the very definition of ‘local.’ Computer, telecommunications, information, and transportation technologies are all helping organizations communicate and solve problems with customers, partners and suppliers, regardless of where they’re located.

But let’s say a problem occurred. Would a supplier – even a local one – meet you on your doorstep each time it happened?

There are two ways of looking at the problem. The first approach is to ensure your supplier can be quickly available when there is an issue with the given automation system. However, this is a reactive response in that the company waits for problems and then jumps through a series of hoops each time, in an attempt to get them fixed.

The second approach is a proactive one. It is focused on the entire system rather than the specific problem. In this approach the company focuses on ensuring the quality and integrity of the system prior to an issue occurring. In many cases, problems can be completely averted with a system designed to stay up and running in the world’s most challenging environments. And if a company has the foresight to implement a training, preventative maintenance, and spare parts program to avoid downtime, it’s just like money in the bank.

More important than anything, manufacturers need to keep their production lines flowing to meet key performance objectives. And that means partnering with a supplier with proven systems, global expertise and worldwide accessibility. With customers around the world, we know better than anyone that our level of responsiveness can impact our customers’ profitability. That’s why we make sure we consistently deliver on our promise to keep customers up and running.

Killing Downtime Before it Happensmaintenance

A pillar of any automation installation is the design and implementation of a preventative maintenance program. By identifying potential areas of concern, these programs put a stop to downtime before it has a chance to occur. A solid preventative maintenance program augmented by highly trained staff can help manufacturers protect themselves from maintenance headaches before they happen.

Our machines take a beating, and they do it without much complaint. We’ve specifically designed them to be durable and require minimal maintenance, knowing the tough conditions they work in. We understand where the most wear and tear happens, and replace parts that may fail – long before the unit does. To ensure automation solutions function at peak capacity, post-installation training is also a must. Without in-depth classroom and hands-on shop floor training, management and maintenance staff could face losses in productivity. Significant downtime is simply not an option. That’s why we implement preventative maintenance with pre- and post-training programs in every installation.

New Possibilities for the Global Marketplace 

With the increasing pressures associated with globalization, companies in every corner of the world must squeeze the most out of their production facilities 24/7. Manufacturers must ensure they can count on proven performance and easy access to their automation partners no matter where they’re located in the world. And with technology redefining what it means to be ‘local,’ companies can have both!

RMT Customer Care TeamCimcorp Oy and RMT Robotics are committed to exceptional service.  

Our customer support services include:

  • Training – Full training is provided during the commissioning phase and as required for new staff.
  • System support –We provide a fast and expert helpdesk feature, ‘hotline’, 24/7 for your convenience.
  • Maintenance – We can tailor a preventive maintenance program to suit the needs of your application.
  • Full service – If you outsource all the maintenance and support functions for your system to us, we provide full-time engineering expertise at your site, allowing you to focus on your business.
  • Spare parts – We can arrange express delivery of parts or provide on-site packages for instant response.
  • Warranty services – Warranty issues are handled by our trained and experienced customer support staff.
  • Modernizations – A partnership approach to your logistics allows us to analyze the changing needs of your business and propose ways to modernize or upgrade your system.

To learn more about our innovative Customer Care services visit http://www.rmtrobotics.com/page/customer-care
or
http://www.cimcorp.com/Installations_supported_worldwide