Runner Group Automates Internal Logistics for Kitchenware With MiR Robots

Runner has built a smart factory using Mobile Industrial Robots systems in three distinct but coordinated groups.

Mobile Industrial Robots

MiR mobile robots automated pallet and part handling at Runner.
Runner Group built a smart factory to meet changing demand for kitchen goods, and it deployed a dozen systems from Mobile Industrial Robots for ease of use.

Runner Group, a manufacturer of kitchenware and sanitaryware, needed more efficient internal transportation to respond to changing consumer demand. The Xiamen, China-based company decided to build a smart factory and add automation in the form of 12 autonomous mobile robots, or AMRs, from Mobile Industrial Robots ApS.

“The implementation of automatic logistics processes empowers us to take a leading position in the sector,” stated Weyland Fambu, director of intelligent operation development platform and intelligent manufacturing at Runner. “Furthermore, the capability of automated logistics processes serves as a key indicator of Runner's long-term competitive edge in manufacturing.”

Runner modernizes production, logistics

The rise of smart homes has led to heightened consumer expectations for quality, style, energy efficiency, and environmental sustainability, noted Runner. “Conventional basic sanitaryware products are entering a transformative era characterized by 'technology and ingenuity,'” leading to new requirements for innovative product design, manufacturing, and delivery, it said.

Not only did Runner design and construct a new factory to upgrade production, but it also decided to transform its logistics processes within conventional workshop lines with automation. The company said it has focused these efforts in its Intelligent Manufacturing Center for Kitchenware & Sanitaryware, which caters to globally recognized industry players.

The center is equipped with a fleet of 12 mobile robots, including six MiR250 AMRs, two MiR600 robots, and other systems. They operate in three distinct groups with specialized capabilities, explained Mobile Industrial Robots.

The first group includes robots that lift assembly parts from a shelf to a cart, the second collects finished products, and the third empties delivery pallets. The MiR fleet management software coordinates the three groups, along with the RCS3.0 robot control system.

In addition, Runner has developed a transportation management system (TMS) to integrate robot communications with its manufacturing execution system (MES) and warehouse management system (WMS). This facilitates the efficient deployment of information and hardware resources, coordinates between the fleet and the production line for high-priority tasks, and allows for smooth scheduling and efficient operations, said Runner and MiR.

“MiR AMRs feature intelligence, safety, and user-friendly operation,” said Su Dapeng, senior technical manager at Runner Corp. “With the integration of our MES for fleet control, the fleet operates seamlessly during routine tasks, resulting in a significant improvement in production efficiency and labor performance.”

MiR AMRs handle internal logistics

MiR robots work in three coordinated groups at Runner. Source: Mobile Industrial Robots

MiR overcomes environmental challenges

Transportation process points tend to be scattered in kitchenware and sanitaryware assembly workshops, said Mobile Industrial Robots. In addition, production lines are not dedicated continuously to a single product but include several small workstations.

As a result, Runner needed materials handling systems that can adjust their workflows to accommodate changes in real time. The manufacturer's TMS and MiR robots allowed for flexible operations.

Unlike automated guided vehicles (AGVs) or some semi-autonomous forklifts, AMRs do not require the installation of rails or other infrastructure modifications, noted MiR.

Each AMR cart includes advanced laser scanners, 3D cameras, other built-in sensors, and software, it added. This equipment enables the AMRs to analyze the environment along their routes, avoid obstacles, and dynamically plan and adjust routes.

Mobile Industrial Robots said that its AMRs can operate for more than 12 hours at a time in the current deployment scenario. In addition, the delivery rate of assembly parts can reach up to eight times per hour, per set, and the finished product collection rate can reach four times per hour, per set, said the Odense, Denmark-based company.

MiR pallet moving robots

AMRs automate the movement of pallets and assembly parts without extra infrastructure. Source: Mobile Industrial Robots

Mobile robots transform the workplace

Runner said it successfully helped the majority of its transportation workers to acquire AMR operation skills. Mobile Industrial Robots said its intuitive graphical programming interface allowed frontline operators to start working with the robots without prior programming experience.

Operators could collaborate with the MiR AMRs through Web-based controls and an intelligent device such as a tablet. Runner's staffers were able to become proficient AMR operators after just a few days of training by MiR's technical support and Xiamen Jing Rui Precise Equipment Co.

Runner reported that the AMR implementation significantly reduced employees' workloads and enhanced their professional skills. The smart factory, which includes a safer environment and automation-assisted tasks, also helps it attract and retain scarce talent in a competitive market.

Runner expressed confidence that MiR's automation of its logistics processes will yield a return on investment (ROI) in two to three years. The company plans to expand its deployment to other facilities in its network and to build more smart factories.

“The company places emphasis on domestic circulation and promoting the concept of 'dual circulation,'” Runner said. “To achieve this, we have set up industrial bases and overseas companies in various locations such as Xiamen, Zhangzhou, Ningbo, Shanghai, Taipei, Thailand, and the United States. These strategic moves are aimed at facilitating the high-quality development of the group.”

Mobile Industrial Robots helped automate case handling at Runner.

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Mobile Industrial Robots

MiR mobile robots automated pallet and part handling at Runner.

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