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How could an autonomous robot help you?

Hans Dittmar
Aug 28, 2023

How can YOU leverage the benefits of autonomous robotic carts?

Sometimes it's easy to clearly identify how new capital equipment will help efficiency in your facility, but that's not always true. Automation - a relatively new piece of the efficiency puzzle - can be even more challenging. At MūL, we've heard a myriad of stories about how they are using MARC carts, and we thought we would share some of the more common use cases.

While the use cases described below may not apply to your situation directly, chances are they are similar to your needs. If you have standard industrial carts around - and almost every facility does - you know they are a effective tool. These carts, however, also represent lost time and thus an opportunity to become more efficient. 

The overarching theme for use cases that make sense for autonomous robotic carts can be summarized as follows:

"If you hired a person to do a specific job - and instead they are pushing carts between two points, that is lost time and a potential use case."

As you walk through your facility, keep an eye out for utility carts being pushed by people and ask yourself "is this a one-time thing, or is it happening frequently?" If it's a repetitive task, it is quite likely a use case for an autonomous cart. Worst yet, you'll find people have to walk somewhere to get an empty cart, return to load it before pushing it to a final destination.

Here are some examples of more common ways that our customers have told us they use MARC in their operations:

  • Gathering quality samples from machinery.
    Several customers have told us that when they have an automated machine producing parts - for example injection mold machinery or CNC stations - there are requirements for ongoing production to be assessed by Quality. Many of these operators are required to pull production samples from the machine and take them to the Quality department for sample-based inspection and approval. This process often requires the machine operator to stop the machine - or leave it unattended - while they physically walk the parts to quality and sometimes wait till the parts are approved. Then they return to the machine and continue. Using MARC carts, our customers are able to recapture that lost time by sending the cart to quality with the sample, allowing better utilization of the machine operator and also increasing overall productivity by preventing the down or unattended time. 

    You can see a real-world example of this in our case study How MARC® Speeds Up Quality Sampling to Keep Manufacturing Equipment Running.
  • Dispatching replacement parts for missing or damaged components.
    Several customers use MARC carts to dispatch parts to an assembly area that needs replacement parts for missing or damaged parts. One example of this is a large cabinetmaker that has a central area for getting replacement parts. As the operator is assembling an order, they may find a damaged part that they need to complete the order. The order can't be completed until that new part is received - meaning the operator needs to stop building, walk to the parts area, request their part, walk back and then continue to build the order. 

    One customer uses MARC carts in work cell clusters - always ready to run to the parts area for replacement. In this case, the worker can continue working on other items in the same order and, when the replacement arrives, finish the order. This reduces downtime and also leads to an increase in production - two different aspects which both carry overall benefits for efficiency. 
  • Getting orders from inventory to shipping.
    In virtually all warehouse and manufacturing facilities, there are distinct areas set aside for inventory - either parts or finished goods - and a different area set up to efficiently package and ship orders. This generally means that the staff in the inventory area needs to walk complete orders from the inventory area to the shipping area. If there are a significant number of orders - especially if they are critical or hot - staff may run to shipping many times each day. Using MARC to move these complete orders to shipping can save significant time day after day. This is one of the more prevalent applications for MARC carts. 

    You can see a real world example of this in our case study MARC® Saves Warehouse $22,127 by Automating Parts Dispatch.
  • Sending parts from the receiving area to inventory or manufacturing.
    Several customers use MARC carts to move components from receiving area to various departments that need to process or consume them. When new components come in, they are often spoken for and are needed to keep manufacturing on schedule. When parts need first article inspection (first batch), they usually need to go to quality or engineering for that review. Since these parts are also generally being consumed quickly for build-to-order products, they need to be dispatched with urgency. MARC can bring those parts to quality for approval, allowing the dock staff to keep receiving other parts. If manufacturing needs the already run-rate parts for immediate consumption, the same process can be followed, again allowing for continued work for other incoming products. Incoming areas for some of our customers use more than one dedicated MARC cart; they might have one for dock-to-quality, one for dock-to-manufacturing and another for dock-to-inventory. 
  • Sending parts, tools and consumables for machine maintenance.
    For customers that have machines that require regular maintenance that involves physical repairs or cleaning supplies, MARC can help run the needed items to the machine and wait for the repair team to arrive. The highly trained, specialized repair team can be much more efficient if these items are staged at the machine, preventing them from having to run for consumables or parts. This is also true when a repair part is need - they can dispatch a MARC cart to 'pick up' the part while they continue to diagnose and repair the machine. This leads to greater efficiency and reduced downtime - benefits that are immediately realized.
  • On-the-floor tooling of machines.
    Several customers using MARC are in the CNC industry. Since the machines need to be tooled specifically for a certain part, tool heads are continuously being changed for the needed part. These tools also require regular inspection, sharpening and replacing as they are used. Tools are generally held in a specific area, and a team is responsible to maintain, store and stage those tools. Using MARC, our CNC customers are able to keep the specialists at each end - machine operators and tool managers - using their specialty training and not waste time moving between the machines and the tool crib. This process also means that machine tool sets can be staged ahead of time, and can be dispatched on a moment's notice.

Clearly, these are only a few more common examples of use cases that our customers have shared with us. To reiterate the generality of a potential use case, any time you have someone pushing a cart instead of adding value to the job they were hired for, consider MARC robotic carts as a potential solution to eliminate that wasted time.  

MARC Autonomous Robotic Carts

MARC robotic carts were designed to be extremely simple - we guarantee that MARC can be used within 10 minutes of receipt without any facility accommodations or software needed. MARC is a great point of entry for the adoption of automation - people view our products as a tool, not a replacement. While it's true that the time saved by using MARC means a company needs fewer associate hours, the real benefits are to make people more efficient and increase their job satisfaction. These benefits have been noticed by many of our customers.

MARC is also extremely cost effective. With completely transparent pricing and no recurring fees, MARC is easy to order, simple to set up and has the fastest ROI.

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