Customer: Leading E-Commerce Retailer
Solution: Automated e-commerce packaging solution
Region: Global
Challenge: A global e-commerce retailer needed a reliable repetitive equipment manufacturer to quickly scale its packaging automation machinery across fulfillment centers worldwide.
Solution: ATS turn-key offering provided value engineering and global manufacturing services to optimize the machinery and certify it for high-volume repeat builds.
Results: Perfect delivery in the mass replication of a thousand units in four years and developed a next-generation machine that reduced packaging defects by 90 percent.

Automating E-Commerce Pick & Pack Solutions

When a major e-commerce retail was looking to scale its intelligent packaging machinery across global fulfillment centers, they turned to ATS Automation Tooling Systems, the leaders in factory automation systems.

The retailer originally worked with a technology provider to design intelligent packaging machines to automate fulfillment operations. The machines were initially produced by a local manufacturer and piloted in a fulfillment center in North America. With the solution, a fulfillment worker places a ‘picked’ item in a specialized slot in the packaging machine. The machine automatically wraps and seals it in a lightweight protective mailer and a shipping label is adhered. The final package is placed on a conveyer belt and moved through quality control and shipping.

While these early machines increased fulfillment speeds, operators saw a high number of defects in final packages before shipment. To stabilize the machines, additional engineering design changes were needed to address package sealing and alignment.

Just as the retailer looked to scale machine production, solution, the local manufacturer had production issues, struggling to balance design changes and meet on-time delivery dates.

With pressure to expand the automated packaging machinery across multiple warehouses in North America, Europe, Japan, India, and Australia, the retailer needed a new partner for machine replication with global manufacturing and servicing capabilities.

“ATS Industrial Automation is more than a traditional contract manufacturer. Our deep expertise in automated tools, assembly and test solutions enables us to provide global manufacturing for both custom or repeat solutions, as well as value engineering, cost containment, training, and device servicing to our customers.”  Udo Panenka, President, ATS Industrial Automation.

Beyond Traditional Contract Manufacturing

The e-commerce retailer turned to ATS Industrial Automation to help industrialize the machine design and scale production. From the beginning, it was clear that ATS was not a traditional contract manufacturer. With more than 24,000 factory system installations worldwide, the ATS team has an in-depth understanding of repeat equipment manufacturing (REM) and custom automation solutions. ATS Industrials’ value analysis process brings its engineering design, manufacturing, supply chain, and service expertise to not simply solve customer challenges but improve on their designs so their customers can meet their volume demands.

The ATS team evaluated the machinery’s design taking into consideration parts handling, manipulation, and assembly. The team recommended manufacturing design changes that would optimize servicing and manufacturing of the packaging machinery. The updated design included a new vision system for bar code scanning that would help lower manufacturing costs. The ATS team also made several safety improvements to the machine’s design to secure TUV certification in Germany.

With a certified design ready, ATS manufactured and met the retailers’ on-time delivery schedule, producing 250 machines in the first year and another 450 machines over the next two years.

During this time, ATS engineers worked closely with the retailer to develop the second-generation intelligent packaging machine. Together the team identified the root cause of the sealing and alignment defects. The ATS team went to work designing a new frame for the seal engine, including adding new components to help automatically align the edge of the package before the final seal was applied.

Within 6 months, ATS was manufacturing and installing 250 second-generation machines in the retailer’s fulfillment centers across the globe.  The new design reduced the rate of packaging seal defects by 90 percent.  Fulfillment operators were no longer required to perform visual quality control checks on the finished package before proceeding to shipping. The program eliminated the need for two people to verify packages after processing, allowing those employees to be allocated to a different area.

Manufacturing of the first and second-generation machines was done in Canada and Germany. The retailer relied on the ATS project team to handle the sourcing of components and all logistics, including freight, customs, and importation/exportation requirements. Working closely with the retailer, the ATS team successfully delivered and installed all the devices across the retailers’ fulfillment centers in five countries. The retailer also asked ATS to provide custom on-site training to ensure their employees can correctly perform routine maintenance on the machines.

ATS continues to work with the ecommerce leader as a manufacturing, engineering and service partner to drive continuous improvement, employ lean manufacturing strategies and automate packaging and fulfillment operations.


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Customer Benefits

  • Improved efficiency of the e-commerce packaging process using automation.
  • Eliminated the need to have two people verify each package.
  • Reduced over 100 hours per week
  • Quickly scaled the solution across multiple countries
  • Reduced machine defects by 90% per million
  • Eliminated secondary quality control checks
  • Reliable repeat equipment manufacturing partner with global capabilities
  • 24/7 remote support with subject matter expert
  • Partnership built on collaboration and trust to drive continuous improvement

ATS Delivered

  • 1,000 repeat units over 4 years
  • 100% on-time delivery
  • Global manufacturing, logistics, service, and training
  • Engineering and design for manufacturing services
  • Safety certification
    • Certification Standards for North America:
      • UL 963 Standard for Safety – Sealing, Wrapping and Marking Equipment Certification.
      • EMC FCC – North America FCC 15 – Includes Testing/Evaluation/Marking/Final report.
      • NFPA 79.
      • UL 508A.
      • NRTL certification marking.
      • ANSI B11.19 – safeguarding evaluation and report.
      • ANSI Z 535.4 and ANSI Z 535.6.
      • EN ISO 13849-1 Safety of Machinery SRP/CS Part 1: General Principles.
      • EN ISO 13849-2 Safety of Machinery SRP/CS Part 2: Validation.
      • Completed Risk Assessment for life cycle of product – transport, install, commissioning, operation, maintenance, decommissioning, disassemble.
    • Certification Standards for European Union:
      • EN415-3:2009 Safety of packaging machines – Part 3: Form, fill and seal machines.
      • Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC + final report.
      • EMC Directive for Europe 2014/30/EU + final report.
      • EN 61000-6-2/AC:2005, EN 61000-6-4/A1:2011.
      • IEC 60204-1.
      • EN ISO 13855 Safety of Machinery Positioning of safeguards.
      • EN ISO 13849-1 Safety of Machinery SRP/CS Part 1: General Principles.
      • EN ISO 13849-2 Safety of Machinery SRP/CS Part 2: Validation.
      • ISO 13850 Safety of Machinery Emergency Stop Function.
      • ISO 13857 Safety of Machinery Safety distances to prevent hazard zones being reached by upper and lower limbs.
      • Declaration of Conformity.
      • Technical Construction File.
      • Completed Risk Assessment for life cycle of product – transport, install, commissioning, operation, maintenance, decommissioning, disassemble
      • Evaluation to EN ISO 12100:2010 Machinery Design and Risk Assessment

Additional Information

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