With order fulfillment complexity continuing to increase, it has never been more imperative for manufacturers and distributors to ease the demand on their operational teams however they can. One simple way to do this is through the use of a robotic document inserter
to accurately place the proper invoice, return slip, or packing slip into your case or carton every time. So, what sets a robotic document inserter apart from other manual or conventional solutions? Let’s explore just a few of the differentiating factors.
1. Ease of Operation
One of the major benefits of robotic technology is the ability to operate with little or no manual intervention. As opposed to conventional solutions, a robotic document inserter provides the ability to produce reprints on demand without requiring an operator. If a case is waiting in the system and the printed documents in the trays do not match the documents required for the case, the robot automatically rejects that set of paperwork and places it in the reject chute. At this point, the system will immediately reprint the correct paperwork for the case that is waiting, and the robot will place it within the case. If at any point a case does require manual intervention, however, it can be tracked and pushed onto a reject conveyor to be manually evaluated. Additionally, a robotic document inserter does not require the paperwork to be run through any belts. Because the paper is only running through a printer and then robotically placed into the case, the risk for paper jams is minimized. Additionally, if paper or ink is being refilled, or if one of the printers goes down with a fault, the system will still function at an adjusted rate while these issues are being resolved due to the printer redundancy offered.
Another fundamental benefit of a robotic solution is the accuracy and repeatability that it provides. A robotic document inserter system contains a multitude of verification checks to ensure accuracy. First of all, scanners upstream of the system scan incoming cases in order to automatically build the print queue. This print queue is minimized when compared to traditional document inserters due to the printer redundancy and quick print methodology. Once a case is in the system and the paperwork has been printed, barcode scanners above the paper trays verify that the paperwork barcode matches the current case, and that the last required page is present. If an incorrect sheet is printed, it is automatically rejected from the system, further ensuring the correct sheet finds its way into the proper case every time. This functionality helps resolve print queue errors that can be caused by cases being removed from the conveyor line due to damage or print issues with barcodes, along with cases that may be introduced out of sequence for any reason.
A robotic document inserter offers superior flexibility when compared to conventional document inserter technologies. The heart of any robotic system lies in the end of arm tooling, specifically designed to meet the customer’s needs. For a robotic document inserter system, the robot can utilize a vacuum tool to handle single sheets. If additional capacity is required, a gripper tool is utilized to handle multiple sheets at a time, and a specially designed slot in the paper tray allows for easy gripper access. If desired, a hybrid tool including both gripper and vacuum capability could also be implemented for optimum flexibility. With the ability to handle single or multiple sheets, customers with varying documentation requirements can be easily accommodated. A robotic document inserter can also be easily integrated within an existing system, and options allow for multiple document inserters to operate either in series or in parallel.
With a direct interface to proven industrial printers and warehouse control/management systems, system diagnostics are greatly improved with a robotic document inserter. Providing detailed information from each of the system printers to an operator display (and beyond to the WCS), advanced warning of paper/toner shortages, or other printer warnings are fully integrated within the platform. When fully integrated with a Bastian Solutions ExactaWMS, this allows for a single line of support for the life of the system by removing all third-party software normally involved with traditional document inserters. With this method, the document inserter performance indicators are combined with full warehouse system to provide operations staff with real time data for troubleshooting, analysis, and training.
Join us at ProMat 2017 in Chicago April 3-6, booth #S3646. Our engineers will be on hand to answer your material handling and automation questions. You can also see our robotic document inserter in person and integrated into a conveyor sortation system. Free show registration is available here.
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