CASE STUDY: Using an Automated Trailer Loading Solution to Reduce Loading Time at a Raw Material Cross-Dock Facility
The raw material cross-dock facility at a large automotive supplier (XYZ Automotive) is a key component of the company’s supply chain. This facility is responsible for receiving raw materials from various suppliers and loading them onto trailers for transport to the manufacturing facility. In the past, the process of loading and unloading trailers at both of the facilities was time-consuming and labor-intensive, often taking up to 40 minutes per trailer to load and about 25 minutes per trailer to unload.
To improve the efficiency of the loading process at the raw material cross-dock facility, XYZ Automotive decided to implement an automated trailer loading solution. The goal of this solution was to reduce the time it takes to load a trailer to <5 minutes, thereby improving the overall efficiency of the facility.
9 robots were deployed to be used on the 15 minute route that was run at a frequency of about every 2 hours.
The implementation involved a raw-material cross-dock facility and the manufacturing site that it feeds.
Both sites have a 3 shift operation that provides near 24/7 coverage.
The automated trailer loading solution implemented at XYZ Automotive’s raw material cross-dock facility used 9 Slip Robots to run the route between the cross-dock facility and the manufacturing site. The strategy was to have 3 robots at the cross-dock facility getting loaded, 3 on route in a truck, and 3 robots getting unloaded at the manufacturing site at all times. When the trailer would arrive at either site, the 3 robots on the trailer would exit into a staging lane and the 3 robots at the site would move into the trailer. Cross-docked material would move to the manufacturing site on the route and returnable packaging would move back from the manufacturing site to the cross-dock on the return. The robots were operational and running routes within an hour of delivery.
The implementation of the automated trailer loading solution at XYZ Automotive’s raw material cross-dock facility was a resounding success. The time it took to load a single trailer was reduced from 40 minutes to just 3.5 minutes, an 90%+ reduction. This improvement in efficiency allowed the facility to handle a larger volume of raw materials with the same number of staff, resulting in significant cost savings for the company.
The Slip Robot trailer loading and unloading system also reduced the risk of damage to the raw materials by 40%. Additionally, XYZ Automotive saw a significant decrease in damage to dock doors and trailers.
The decreased lead-time enabled by the Slip Robot loading solution also allowed a decrease in lineside storage, which resulted in an increase in the amount of usable manufacturing space at the manufacturing site.