Low Cost Packing System
A Massachusetts catalog fulfillment house wanted to electronically capture packing information. Packers were manually recording the number of boxes that they packed, and supervisors were tallying this data every day and recording it into an Excel spreadsheet, which was used to calculate incentive pay.
They have fifty packing stations where users pull totes off of a conveyor that contain items to be shipped along with paperwork that has an attached barcoded shipping label. To complicate matters, there were no electrical outlets at the packing stations
We installed Symbol Technologies LS2208 laser scanners with Smart Stands at each work station. The LS2208 scanners are configured with RS232 cables. We connected each LS2208 to a port on a Lantronix Terminal Server, which sent the data received from the scanner over their Ethernet network to Switchboard, running on a PC in the computer room.
Along with the Lantronix terminal server, we built a custom power supply to provide power to the scanners at the packing stations. We ran standard CAT5 cable to each station; four conductors were used to send and receive RS232 data, the other four were used to supply DC power to the scanners.
The Scanner Interface and Power Supply:
How it works
Users were issued barcoded badges. When they start work for the day, they scan their badge. The scanner beeps once, indicating a good read, and the host responds with one beep if they are clocking in, and two beeps if they are clocking out. Each transaction is time stamped and posted to a SQL Server database.
Once a user is clocked into their workstation, they simply scan each box that they pack. The system responds with a single beep for each unique box scanned, duplicate scans are rejected. Times are automatically calculated and posted to the SQL Server database.
The system increased the efficiency of the packers by relieving them of the task of manually recording their work, and eliminated the supervisor's time to tally the time sheets. In addition, they now have historical data that they can analyze.
The packing system was very successful, and they asked us to keep track of their picking operations as well
The picking system is PC based, and various screens allow the users to clock in and out for the day, in and out for lunch, and to record picked orders.
First, a user logs into the picking program and is assigned a group of orders to pick. When the orders are completed he returns to the picking desk and is assigned a new group of orders. The time of the first group is then calculated, minus any break times or lunches, and the record is posted to the SQL Server database. Again, manual recording of data was eliminated, as was supervisory time needed to tally and total picker time sheets.
This system has been running for over a year and has collected millions of transactions. Both the picking system and packing system have since been expanded, and our customer has increased the efficiency of their packing and picking operations.