Sinocare, Asia’s largest blood glucose meters manufacturer, recently joined forces with Hai Robotics to implement a complete set of Autonomous Case-handling Robot (ACR) systems into their warehouse in Changsha, China.
Hai Robotics, a pioneer in Autonomous Case-handling Robot (ACR) systems for warehouse logistics, provided a deeper intelligent technology integration and development of in-plant logistics in the healthcare facility, delivering higher workflow efficiency rates and lower labour costs. Li Zhi, Senior Manager of Sinocare’s Engineering Department, said: “The strategy of digitised and intelligent supply chain transformation, with the ACR systems’ help, will continuously foster Sinocare’s business growth now and far into the future.”
ACR systems stimulate operational efficiency
ACR solutions provide a more efficient, easy, and accurate way to manage materials throughout warehouse operations. These intelligent solutions use HAIQ, a warehouse software management system developed by Hai Robotics, as the intelligent brain that manages all the processes enabling effective responses to fluctuating demands and navigating complex logistical challenges within the facility while maintaining maximum efficiency.
To meet the high demands of Sinocare’s flexible production line, Hai Robotics’ ACR solution was implemented to manage the movements of semi-finished products as part of the manufacturing process and in storage. The ACR system fully integrated with Sinocare’s existing Manufacturing Execution System, helping to provide whole-process digitisation of goods management.
This integration now allows operators to easily and accurately manage inventory, monitor the handling of products, and track the movements of inbound and outbound goods. As a result, Sinocare was able to achieve significant advancements in intelligent warehousing and intelligent manufacturing collaboration.
ACR systems improve storage density
Sinocare’s Changsha warehouse storing semi-finished products covers an area of 1,000 sq m and there was a need to store more goods while staying within the same storage footprint. By implementing Hai Robotics’ high-density ACR system, Sinocare was able to increase its storage capacity from 7,500 to 12,000 totes. This increased the average storage density to about 13 totes per square meter.
Hai Robotics’ ACR solution was able to achieve these metrics and enhance storage density largely due to two key contributors. The first, Hai Robotics’ ACRs are able to operate in tight spaces, most importantly in aisles under 1.2m wide. The second, two two totes can be placed one in front of the other on a shelf and two shelves placed back-to-back, effectively realising double-deep shelving and reducing the total number of aisles and creating a high-density storage unit that is four totes deep and accessible from two sides. These shelving units were then stacked to 4.4m high throughout the warehouse.
ACR intelligent picking liberates manpower
Traditional warehouse management relies heavily on manual labour, which presents many challenges regarding availability, costs, and efficiencies, while other companies are gaining ground with the use of efficient automation. For facilities that still operate manually, normal human error, slow and low-efficiency operations, and natural physical limitations often result in a delay in facility maintenance, expired storage, and failure to replenish parts in a timely manner when inventory is low. These issues can create major problems for operations. Sinocare recognised the need to automate to enhance the productivity of their workers and maximised workflow efficiency.
Sinocare’s Changsha warehouse was able to double their per-worker efficiency rate with the implementation of whole-process automated storage and handling of totes containing their semi-finish products, while reducing the strain of previously laborious tasks. When inbound goods are received, a robotic arm grabs the loaded totes and places them on a conveyor belt.
Hai Robotics’ ACRs then retrieve the totes and deliver them to appropriate locations on shelves in the high-density storage area. When it is time for goods to move out of storage, the ACRs retrieve the tote from storage and transport it to a temporary storage shelf where an AGV then brings the goods to a production line. The automated solution also helps to create a better work environment for people. Operators can now track and manage the system from a dashboard without strenuous work.
Unlocking the potential in healthcare warehousing
Founded in 2002, Sinocare is a leading high-tech enterprise committed to using biosensor technology to produce and sell products for rapid detection of diabetes and other chronic diseases. As the largest manufacturer of blood glucose meters and test strips, Sinocare has taken over 50% of China’s retail market of blood glucose meters.
Together with Hai Robotics, Sinocare aims to build an intelligent warehousing system for semi-finished products to unlock the potential in healthcare warehousing.