6 River Systems LLC announced yesterday its new Mobile Fulfillment app designed to help its customers pick items even when not using a Chuck mobile robot. The app is currently being tested by a select group of customers, and the Waltham, Mass.-based company said it expects it to be commercially available in the third quarter of 2023.
The Mobile Fulfillment app, which users can access through a Zebra Android tablet, takes advantage of 6 River Systems’ cloud-based fulfillment execution system (FES). The company described the FES as a “combination of cloud-based software services and hardware that enables operators to optimize the orchestration, execution, and automation of wall-to-wall fulfillment workflows.”
The app allows customers to use 6 River Systems’ “allocation, batching, and prioritization algorithms” to pick items that are both compatible and incompatible with Chuck, it said. In addition, the app allows customers to track orders using a single system. 6 River Systems noted that it designed the app to be integrated with third-party warehouse equipment.
“While the app's initial release addresses challenges commonly associated with AMR picking systems, future releases will further integrate with 6RS' fulfillment execution system, allowing associates to complete multiple tasks such as put away, sort and pack out,” the company added.
New app extends picking reach beyond AMRs
Jerome Dubois, vice president of Shopify Logistics, told Robotics 24/7 that the app helps address some of the limitations that come up with using an autonomous mobile robot (AMR) to pick items. For instance, mobile robots can’t hold products of all sizes, and they are limited in the areas they can navigate.
“We know within our existing system and existing install base and our existing customer use cases that oftentimes there are less than ideal environments for our [AMRs] to be running in,” he said. “Aisles can be too narrow, or customers are using man-up or walkie riders or forklifts for a certain portion of the picks.”
While the Chuck mobile robot is a good solution for 70% of picks in a warehouse, Dubois estimated that the app will be useful for 90% of them.
Dubois also noted that the app extends the addressable market 6 River Systems can serve. No longer is the company confined to customers that use its robots for traditionally automated picking tasks.
“Right now, our fulfillment execution system can support much more than just picking on a robot,” he said. “It can support other workflows and activities that are generally associated with a warehouse.”
6 River Systems has been focusing on expanding its software efforts for quite a while, Dubois noted. Chuck was a starting point for the 8-year-old company, but its ambitions extend further.
“We’ve been talking about a software-centric roadmap for a long time,” said Dubois. “We’ve been in kiosks for a while. We’ve been in workstations. Now, we’re actually in the mobile world and can extend our workflows.”
In the release announcing the new app, Brandon Hetrick, a plant manager at Parker Hannifin and a customer of 6 River Systems, shared his excitement about the new app.
“6RS Chucks have proved to be an invaluable asset in our facilities, delivering strong results across the board,” he said. “From that success, we wanted to explore how we could further leverage 6RS technology to optimize warehouse operations.”
“We expect the new Mobile Fulfillment app will allow us to standardize our outbound task execution and training, improve process quality, and capitalize on efficiency improvements,” added Hetrick.
6 River Systems also announced general updates and system usability improvements to FES, which includes mobile sort options for multiple zones (i.e., picks across mezzanine floors). They also included Spanish, Czech, Dutch, and Polish support for 6 River Systems management console system, The Bridge, Chuck, and the Universal Terminal.
6 River Systems at ProMat 2023
6 River Systems will be in Chicago next week for ProMat 2023. At Booth S2352 in McCormick Place, the company will provide live demonstrations of the Mobile Fulfillment app, as well as a number of other products.
Royanna Chappell, vice president of sales at 6 River Systems, will also participate in a panel on “Tracking Project ROI Sessions” in the Robotics Theater on March 22 at 10:15 a.m. CDT.
For more on ProMat, visit Robotics 24/7’s special coverage page.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional comments from the company clarifying that the app's current iteration only enables picking.