Mike Futch, PresidentThe dynamic supply chain and order fulfillment operations in the retail and eCommerce industries are facing increased pressure with the rise in the purchasing of individual items. “Individual products take more time, more labor, and they are more difficult to process. Amid the labor shortage, increased purchasing (and frequent returns) of individual items is adding to the woes,” says Mike Futch, President of Tompkins Robotics. To tackle this ‘perfect storm’ in the order fulfillment and sortation arena, Tompkins is supplanting traditional systems with small robotic vehicles that are flexible, scalable, and modular.
To address the various sorting needs of the modern retail and eCommerce industries, Tompkins Robotics offers two different robotic vehicles. The original t-Sort solution can carry loads (items of different shapes and sizes) of up to 11 pounds and move at a speed of 2 meters per second. On the other hand, Tompkins’ newer, larger robotic vehicle, t-Sort Plus, can carry loads of up to 66 pounds and move at a speed of 1.5 meters per second with an option to carry even larger items. The robots’ modular design allows clients to mount tilt trays or cross belts on top of the robot depending on the type of items to be sorted. These robotic vehicle variants allow supply chain and warehouse operators to sort either individual item for eCommerce order fulfillment or outbound order packages for shipping order consolidation. The robots are also capable of handling fragile products, with one of Tompkins Robotics’ clients using this system to sort glass candles. The robots are wirelessly connected to and powered by the Tompkins warehouse execution system, which also acts as the robots’ brain. This system constantly communicates with the robots and provides them directional commands, essentially controlling the robotic operations comprehensively.
Unlike the traditional systems that are rigid and difficult to scale, Tompkins Robotics’ t-Sort modular systems are easy to install. “We can easily integrate our robot into a warehouse of any size, quickly,” says Futch.
These robots can be easily moved to a new location and can be set up over the course of a weekend. These robots can be deployed for the retail clients’ current and evolving needs, and can be utilized at full capacity at all times, ensuring a greater ROI. Impressed by the performance of these robotic systems—which occupy only 25 percent of the space and cost much lower than the traditional systems—most of its clients usually get back to Tompkins Robotics for more robots as their business grows. From contracting to implementation to include testing and training, the t-Sort system can be integrated and deployed in a span of seven months.
We can easily integrate our robot into a warehouse of any size, quickly
In a case study, a client wanted to automate its sorting operations for improved customer order fulfillment and shelf replenishment over a select geographical area. The client turned to Tompkins Robotics for a robust solution based on both t-Sort vehicle types installed into the client’s infrastructure. While t-Sort helped the client to improve the sorting of individual customer and store bound products, the t-Sort Plus system enabled the client to consolidate shipping orders going to stores and eCommerce customers. As the end result, the client achieved greater control over an area that spanned hundreds of miles.
Futch says that robots in the supply chain are the present and future drivers of individual product sorting operations. In such a scenario, Tompkins aims to reduce the risk associated with robotics through new product developments, patents, and partnering with other key players in the industry. A veteran in supply chain consulting in various industries, Futch leads Tompkins with his partnership building skills and hands-on implementation experience to lead the robotics innovation.