“ADAM allowed employees to focus on value-added activities.” —Michael York, Director of Operations, Otis Technology
Robots deliver smarter in-plant transportation and fewer errors
For years, Otis Technology, a maker of weapons and cleaning systems for the U.S. government, armed forces, and hunters and shooters worldwide, relied on manual labor to move materials and finished goods within its plant. Having employees walk miles each day with carts full of assembly parts wasn’t exactly consistent with the company’s Lean philosophy.
So, Otis sought out an automated way to move materials and finished goods from place to place within its plant. The company implemented an automated storage/retrieval system (AS/RS) as the first step. But there were still holes in the transportation process to and from work centers and the AS/RS system. Otis needed to eliminate non-value-added tasks and reallocate employees to value-added activities.
The ADAM (Autonomous Delivery and Manipulation), a mobile robot from RMT Robotics, was just the thing. Otis used the ADAM to automatically connect the multiple production processes in its facility.
When a call for materials is received from a station operator, the ADAM Commander employs a dispatch algorithm to select the appropriate ADAM vehicle for the task and then wirelessly sends the dispatch instruction to the selected ADAM vehicle. Given the destination and task, the ADAM vehicle is free to autonomously navigate through the facility to the destination using an infrared guidance system. Unlike conventional Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), the ADAM does not require wires, targets, or markers. It uses a map that is stored in its memory.
Upon arriving at its destination, the ADAM is manually unloaded and then assigned delivery locations by the operator via an onboard keypad scanner interface. The operator can dynamically select from any destination in the building from a pick list, or choose to send some of the load to a first destination and the remainder of the load to a second destination.
In a little over a year, Otis completed the ADAM project. Transportation went from two employees to three robots. Now those two employees focus on value-added tasks, which in turn have increased profitability and inventory accuracy.
“The ADAM allowed us to automate the waste of moving materials in manufacturing so employees could focus on value-added activities the customer is willing to pay for,” says Michael York, Otis’ director of operations.
Otis has improved on-time deliveries from 85% to 99.92%. The company has also gained better inventory visibility, allowing it to save more than $3 million.