Industrial manufacturer SMC had an annual revenue goal of $2 billion but the wrong space to make it happen. AutoStore was the solution, transforming the Indiana company into a lightning-fast operation that has met sales goals while continuing to scale.
SMC Corporation, a global leader in automatic control equipment, embarked on a mission to enhance its distribution center operations in Indianapolis. With a vision to become the standard for sustainable automation worldwide, the company sought a solution that would not only accommodate their vast product range but also boost efficiency and scalability. The answer to their aspirations lay in AutoStore's automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS).
Founded in 1959 in Japan, SMC Corporation produces pneumatic industrial control technologies for a diverse set of industries such as electronics, automotive, medical, food, packaging, and mining.
Having expanded its footprint over 80 subsidiaries and joint ventures around the world, the North American headquarters had a goal to reach $1 billion and eventually $2 billion in revenue. However, its previous central warehouse in Indianapolis lacked the size, layout, and technology to reach that scale.
“The warehousing operation traditionally wasn’t going to solve or allow us to reach those goals and the only way to do that was to automate,” said Frank Rivera, SMC’s National Distribution Manager.
To address its growth challenges and meet sales goals, SMC worked with AutoStore integrator Bastian Solutions to reconfigure and improve the older warehouse multiple times. But the conveyor layout and process for order consolidation limited daily capacity to about 5,000 lines per day, not allowing them to effectively prepare everything for outbound shipment.
“There was only so much improvement that they could do with the floor space they had available in that building,” said Austin Trusty, Sr. Field Application Engineer for Bastian Solutions.
Working with Bastian Solutions, the company decided to build a new 92,904-sqm (1.1 million-sf) facility and install AutoStore empowered by Bastian’s Exacta warehouse execution system (WES) software.
The robotic cube storage automation system has proven to be a game-changer for SMC. With a focus on efficiency, space optimization, and scalability, the system has allowed the company to meet and exceed its growth targets while enhancing customer satisfaction and employee well-being. Today, SMC stocks approximately 65,000 different SKUs, with 53,000 of them housed within the AutoStore system.
“It just was a much better solution for us as an operation than some of the other options that were out there,” said Jennifer Fleming, Director of Logistics for SMC.
SMC’s choice of the AutoStore solution was guided by several factors:
Using AutoStore, operators use a pick-and-pass method to rapidly fulfill orders without any walking and heavy lifting. Robots retrieve items directly from the storage Grid and lower them via Bins to workers stationed at AutoStore picking zones. Pick operators consolidate and wrap each item in shipping boxes and push them straight onto roller conveyors. From there, boxes are passed to a downstream operator who inserts packing lists and moves the boxes along for sealing, bar code labeling, scanning, and placement on an outbound truck.
Coupled with the Exacta software, AutoStore has brought about significant improvements in SMC's fulfillment operation, which its customers count on for fast order processing. Products are swiftly allocated and picked within hours of an order's arrival, resulting in improved delivery times.
On average, throughput has more than doubled to 10,000 to 12,000 order lines per day and allowed rapid same-day processing without requiring operator overtime.
“(AutoStore) really allowed us to improve our delivery time and throughput time by getting the product in quickly, getting it into the AutoStore, and then getting it to our customers,” said Rivera.
SMC has plans to continue exploring automation opportunities in collaboration with Bastian Solutions. This successful AutoStore installation has set the stage for similar systems to be incorporated into their operations, enabling them to maintain their trajectory toward their ambitious sales goals and market share expansion.
“Had we not installed the AutoStore and the pick-and-pass operation and moved into this operation when we did, we would not have been able to hit the sales goals that we've had up to this point,” said Fleming.
“We would not have been able to gain market share because we would have been at gridlock in the other building. We definitely would not be where we are today had we not put the AutoStore in place when we did.”
“(AutoStore) really allowed us to improve our delivery time and throughput time by getting the product in quickly, getting it into the AutoStore, and then getting it to our customers.”
“We definitely would not be where we are today had we not put the AutoStore in place when we did.”
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AutoStore can fit any warehouse or fulfillment center. Make yours the next.