Highly Automated Microfactories for E.V. Start-Up

Highly Automated Microfactories for E.V. Start-Up

A developer of electric vans and buses bets that smaller is cheaper. UPS seems to agree.

Automobile production and assembly line have been intrinsically linked for more than a century. Volume production justifies the high capital investments. Nevertheless, Arrival, an E.V. start-up, believes that highly automated microfactories are the way to go to produce small volumes of delivery vehicles. The production relies on flexible robots able to perform a variety of tasks. This unproven approach is appealing to UPS, BlackRock, Kia, and Hyundai. Time will tell whether it can actually produce quality output at a lower cost.

 


Video Spotlight: Gigafactory vs. Microfactory


This post is based on The New York Times article, An E.V. Start-Up Backed by UPS Does Away with the Assembly Line, by N.E. Boudette, April 21, 2021, and the YouTube video, Gigafactory? How About Microfactory? Arrival Rethinks How an EV is Built, by Undecided with Matt Ferrell, December 22, 2020. Image source: REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo.

1. Why is the assembly line the process layout of choice for car manufacturing?

Guidance: The primary process characteristics of car manufacturing are repetitiveness (low variety) and high volume. In order to produce the required volume, resources Continue reading

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LocusBots Track Real-Time Warehouse Operations

LocusBots Track Real-Time Warehouse Operations

In response to a surge in e-commerce, Locus Robotics is developing better and more efficient robots to handle increased warehousing demand.

Locus Robotics’ robots are called “LocusBots”.  They are autonomous and mobile and can track real-time warehouse operations using iPhone or wearable technology.

New features for LocusBots to better handle item picking and handling in warehouses are in the research and development stage.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the Forbes article, Meet The Newest Robotics Unicorn: Locus Robotics Raises $150 Million At A $1 Billion Valuation On Surging E-Commerce Sales, by Amy Feldman,  February 17, 2021, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: Baloncici/iStock/Getty Images

Discussion Questions:

1. What impacts do robots have on warehouse operations?

Guidance: Robots are automating warehouse operations in general, and item picking and handling in particular. A robot can pick up more bulky/heavy items, and move them to desirable locations, faster than its human counterpart.  Warehouse operations will be more efficient and reliable and have less errors and injuries.

2.  In what ways is product design important to Continue reading

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Making Fast Food Pickup Faster

Making Fast Food Pickup Faster

March 19, 2020

Speed of service is increasingly becoming important to the quick food service industry.  Coupled with increasing sales coming from orders taken through digital systems, these restaurants are working on making the delivery of digital orders as easy and fast as possible.  This is especially true for digital orders that are paid for digitally.  In many cases, customers are forced to wait in line for the cashier to pick up their order.

Wingstop has put a heavy focus on digital orders.  Many of its orders, especially the vast majority of take-out orders, are digital.  Digital orders average $5 more. Wingstop is looking to keep these customers happy.  As a result, the company is testing delivery lockers, which allow take-out customers to bypass the cashier, avoid the wait in line, and go to the locker for their order.

Domino’s is also facing a similar problem with carry-out orders.  The Pie Pass allows customers that order and pay online, to confirm through their phone when they have arrived in the store’s parking lot.  This allows restaurant employees a head-start on finding the order, which can be handed to the customer as they enter the building. Continue reading

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