In recent years, the overall scale of express industry has expanded rapidly in China with swift growth of e-commerce industry, and the annual business volume has exceeded 30 billion. This increase requires higher sorting efficiency of express and mail. The automatic cross-belt sorter widely applied in industry has efficient processing capacity, but the high investment and strong rigidity cause certain worry of express enterprises about the investment. At present, the wide application of sorting robot system has attracted the attention of express enterprises and rapidly becomes the new trend of intelligentialized and automated development.
The figure shows a series of Geek+'s sorting robots.
All ages of sorting robot
The express market has grown at a rapid speed since 2016, however, the lack of efficient and low-cost mail processing scheme has become an important factor restricting the development of express industry. On the one hand, the difficulty of employment becomes increasingly prominent; there are problems e.g. disorderly employment, labor shortage and high labor cost in market during the peak period of big promotion events such as Double-11 and the Spring Festival; on the other hand, it is difficult to achieve centralized and batch processing for diverse express goods and varied specifications.
The sorting robot system came into being based on efficient and accurate sorting requirements of express logistics customers. The combination of sorting robot system with fast code-reading and intelligent sorting system of industrial camera can realize fast sorting and information recording interaction after the package weighing / code-reading. The sorting robot system can greatly reduce the manual demands in sorting process, improve the efficiency and automation degree, and greatly improve the accuracy rate. With the improvement of big data algorithm, gradual standardization of express & mail information and integration of intelligent control system, the sorting robot system has become a highly fit-product of the logistics industry transformed from labor-intensive industry to batch intelligence.
Geek+ has been concentrated on intelligent warehousing logistics since establishment; it allows the leading AI robot technology to energize traditional logistics industry so as to promote the intelligent reform of the whole logistics industry. Various independently-developed sorting robots can be applied to different sorting scenes, including small-parcel sorting, large-parcel sorting and floor-type sorting with steel free platform, which can be utilized in the express sorting of e-commerce and post-distributing center.
Robot sorting operation flow
After arriving at the sorting center, the parcel is discharged to belt conveyor; the worker controls the supplying rhythm, and parcel is conveyed to the picking area at 2F by belt conveyor.
The workers only need to place the parcel in direction of upwards waybill on the automatic sorting robot, and robot carries parcel through portal frame to scan waybill and read order information, it can automatically weigh the parcel at the same time; and the information of parcel will be directly displayed and uploaded to the control system.
All sorting robots are equipped with backstage management system control and scheduling; and each robot is arranged with the best path for parcel delivery according to algorithm optimization. The S-series sorting robots of Geek+ can realize the functions of mutual dodge and automatic obstacle-avoidance during the sorting operation; the system avoids congestion of robots according to real-time road running condition as far as possible. When robot runs to the destination bin, it stops running and push the parcel into bin through the roller track above it, and the parcel falls into the gathering area at 1F through sideways. The destination bin is set according to city. In the future, the number of bin can be flexibly adjusted with the increase of business volume, and even a city can be distributed with multiple bins.
Gathering and loading:
After the gathering workers complete the package, the parcel will be placed on the conveyor belt and automatically loaded.
Multi-model robot sorting solution
There are mainly three models of sorting robots independently developed by Geek+ --- S10, S20 and S500, which can be divided into S10c, S10t and S500c according to carriers. "c" stands for roller carrier, and "t" stands for turnover carrier.
Small-parcel sorting solution:
The application scene of S10c sorting robot in China Post
S10 sorting robot mainly aims at sorting operation of small-parcel below 10kg with specifications of about 300-400mm. A single robot can carry 1 parcel at supplying point and then pick to bin. The transfer mechanism supports bi-directional delivery and sorting, which requires bi-directional delivery at bin. 600mm*600mm size of delivery bin is suitable for the delivery of small parcel with general sizes.
Geek+ sorting system's functional modules include automatic charging and electricity balance system, path planning and intelligent scheduling system, automatic scanning & code-reading system, automatic obstacle-avoidance system, etc.
The small-parcel robot sorting scheme has been widely applied in sorting scene of China post parcel processing center. Cooperative work of a total of 300 robots in 1300㎡ of S10 robot-area and 50 S500 robots (later in detail) only need 5 workers. The robot runs at 3m/s, the peak sorting value exceeds 10000 parcels / h. The robot can be automatically charged and can operate continuously for 4 hours when charging for 5 minutes. The principle of "slight charging and discharge" is carried out.
Large-parcel sorting solution:
Compared with the light and small S10 robot, S500 robot has larger volume and weight, which is more suitable for large parcel sorting. It can sort the parcel less than 100kg, and the double roller carrier supports the robot to sort two parcel at one time. It can be applied to both the secondary sorting of small parcel and sorting of large and irregular parcel.
The figure shows the application of S500c robot in large-parcel sorting scene of Post.
The large-parcel sorting scheme can be utilized in combination with small-parcel sorting scheme. It has been applied in large scale in Wuhan processing center of China Post. The entire robot area is 4000 ㎡, running 50 S500 and 300 S10 robots, belonging to large-parcel and small-parcel mixed sorting scene. This scene is the first application in China, which can greatly improve the sorting efficiency to 12000 parcels / h, and improve the accuracy of parcel sorting.
Interweaving sorting solution —— the first sorting system without steel platform in China
It generally needs to build two layers of steel-platform scattered path intersection for robot sorting system; the pouch is placed on one layer, and the robot on the second layer runs and delivers parcel to bin, parcel falls into pouch along the bin; and a sorting is completed. However, the construction of steel platform requires high-standard for transformation of warehouse, and the cost is about 3000/㎡. In process of deploying the robot sorting system, it usually needs to reform the original warehouse; and the cost, time limit and movement are all difficulties during the deployment period.
Based on the precise control of demands for sorting flow, Geek+ carries out continuous exploration and innovation on the application of robot in parcel sorting system solution, and independently develops the interweaving sorting system without steel platform.The highly intelligent and flexible system scheduling can reduce the robot path intersection to the maximum extent; the efficiency data can exceed the peak value of steel platform sorting.
The interweaving sorting system completes the sorting through the cooperation of S20 robot and background management system. S20 robot is independently developed by Geek+; the bottom robot carrier is equipped with pack-up device and conveyor roller; the height of the conveyor roller is 700mm and can be directly connected with the roll container. Both S20 robot and original turnover S10 robot use QR code navigation, determine the direction of parcel by scanning the QR code on parcel; and then, the robot moves parcel to corresponding roll container for sorting. The S20 robot's sorting weight is 20kg; it can sort the parcel with size >50cm*50cm, which is equivalent to cross-belt sorter; it has good flexibility and scalability; the sorting efficiency can ranged from 1000 or 2000 parcels /h to tens of thousands parcels /h, which fully reflects the elastic application of flexible automation in sorting scene.
The new interweaving parcel sorting system designed by Geek+ provides a strategic solution with small investment, quick return, simple implementation, strong scalability, and high degree of informatization and intelligentization for the problems in new normal development of Chinese express service.
This video was shot from VIP.com warehouse in Southern China; it was implemented in December 2017 and assorted S20 sorting robot with system scheduling for operation. The number of robots was 200; and the system worked continuously for 24 hours; the sorting efficiency reached 10000 parcels / h. This sorting system has successfully gone through Double-12, new year, 4.18 and other large-scale promotional activities, which has greatly improved the sorting efficiency of warehouse.
--The interweaving sorting system is more flexible and standardized.
--It reduces the difficulty of deployment, reduces project volume and cost.
--High standardization degree and short construction period facilitate the system implementation within 20 days.
--Flexible layout and application can minimize the site transformation.
--It can be used as the automatic lifting of manual sorting and a fully-automated sorting system.
Strengths of robot sorting system
Compared with the cross-belt sorter in express industry, the sorting robot system can achieve 15,000 parcels/h as a new automatic sorting technology, and it is more powerful in system flexibility and scalability.
Strong system scalability: the bin of cross-belt sorter is fixed, and the sorting robot system can be expanded according to the demands for business growth.
Low labor cost: The staff position of the robot sorting system is compact and the efficiency is improved; it can save about 40% of labor cost under the same processing efficiency compared to cross-belt sorter, which solves the violent sorting in express industry and ensures the safety of parcel.
Low sorting error: the sorting robot is adopted with static unloading; and the theoretical sorting error rate is 0 as long as the parcel information is correct.
High system reliability: the robot sorting system is composed of many independently-operated sorting robots; the overall operation efficiency will not be affected by one defective robot. And the system supports remote upgrading and debugging; the related technicians can remotely solve the problem of system scheduling within a short time.
Energy conservation and environment protection: the actual power consumption of the robot sorting system is lower than that of the same size cross-belt sorter, and it is charged by low-power rechargeable battery. The use of green and clean energy can make contributions to efficiency-improvement and cost-reduction of enterprise-level customers.