FPCO Logistics, the logistics subsidiary of the number one manufacturer of food trays/containers, FP Corporation, has distribution centers located throughout the country and is responsible for the storage and management of inventory as well as for the shipping and handling of over 35,000 items. To adapt to changes affecting the logistics business, such as demographic shifts resulting in a decrease in the number of young working people, the company has launched special initiatives to improve logistics processes, including the introduction of an automatic sorter system.
Background of Cray X power suit deployment
While a single sheet of plastic used as a food tray is extremely light, when packed in bulk for handling at distribution centers, such packages can weigh up to 20 kg or more, resulting in heavy lifting for staff involved in manual handling. During the peak hours when the trays are loaded into trucks, it has been necessary to reduce the load, for example, by placing the trays on conveyor belts in preparation for shipping.
In order to optimize the handling and delivery of the food trays in the distribution center as well as to improve overall productivity, multi-site evaluations of the Cray X power suit were conducted together with German Bionic starting from July 2021. At each distribution center, the evaluations were undertaken across shifts and in multiple work settings. The initial introduction was made at the Kyushu Distribution Center, with an aim to expand the utilization.
Leveraging the German Bionic IO connected platform
The German Bionic IO connected Platform was deployed to evaluate the use of the power suit during actual operation. It allows important data, such as the total amount of lifting support being provided in the distribution center to be shown in real time – or for any given timeframe – remotely via a browser. This not only means that current loads can be assessed, but is also valuable for realizing other business optimization potentials, such as identifying the optimal allocation of human resources at the location.
Deployment at Kyushu Distribution Center – Expectations for German Bionic Cray X
Mr. Satoshi Koizumi, Managing Director and President of FPCO Logistics commented:“In the very near future, tasks in logistics will need to be conducted by a decreasing pool of human resources. To adapt to these changes in society, I believe a unified functional model to be required, one that combines “robots,” “systems,” “machines,” and “human resources”. This will involve letting machines and robots to do the work where they can perform better, and humans to execute those tasks that can only be done by humans. We aim to ensure a stable provision of logistics services by pursuing efficiency with this in mind. This is our goal.”
About FPCO Logistics Corp.
A leading manufacturer of food trays, FPCO Logistics has implemented a recycling-oriented approach to all aspects of logistics, from production and sales to recycling, since 1979. To ensure high quality, stable supply, and efficient logistics services, FPCO Logistics disseminates logistics information to sales, production, and other sections, and contributes to the further development of the business.
About German Bionic
German Bionic, with offices in Augsburg, Berlin, and Tokyo, is a leading developer and manufacturer of smart power suits. Exoskeletons are human-machine systems that combine human intelligence with machine power by supporting or amplifying the wearer’s movements. The German Bionic Cray X is the world’s first connected exoskeleton. Linked to the Smart Factory, it self-learns to reinforce lifting movements and prevent incorrect posture, thus becoming an intelligent link between humans and machines. In doing so, it delivers data that underscores its ability to protect the health of workers, measurably reduce the risk of accidents, and thereby make quantifiable improvements to work processes. In recognition of this innovative technology, which puts people back in the focus of Industry 4.0, German Bionic and the Cray X have received numerous awards, including the Bavarian and German Entrepreneur Awards, the Land of Ideas and Automatica Award, as well as a nomination for the prestigious Hermes Award at the Hannover Messe.