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Test by Mahle Behr proves autonomous robots can take auto parts inventory

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 08:00
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Auto parts manufacturer Mahle Behr has wrapped up a pilot test of a new robotic cycle counting solution. Mahle worked with digital supply chain solution provider Surgere and Fetch Robotics to test the system at its Dayton, Ohio, facility.

Mahle is using Surgere’s Robotically Optimized and Balanced Inventory (ROBi) platform, combined with RFID tags, the company’s cloud-based asset management supply chain analytics system (COS) and Fetch’s robot technology.

According to David Zingery, head of strategy and growth at Surgere, the ROBi system grew out of Surgere’s experience in developing asset tracking and inventory tracking solutions. “Over the years we’ve deployed a number of different RFID portals and handheld systems, and we wanted to come up with a way to propel that into an autonomous, hands-off entry point,” Zingery says. “We liked Fetch’s platform. It had all the things we needed: WiFi, power, robust mapping, sensors, LIDAR, etc. You can map the area and tell the robot where it can go and where it’s not allowed to go.”

Surgere and Fetch tested preliminary models before installing the robots at the Dayton plant. Now the companies are offering the solution to other customers.

Real-time visibility

ROBi can help companies maintain real-time visibility of parts and assets without throwing labor at the problem.

“You’ve got a cost per person for the folks who are walking around just to count boxes,” Zingery says. “As things move in and out of the warehouse, there’s no way to tell how accurate those cycle counts are.”

William Wappler, president and CEO of Surgere, agrees.

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