Vicarious has created a solution that solves many of the problems seen in traditional automation of repacking. Powered by neuroscience-inspired AI, Vicarious robots visually identify each individual item when constructing each mixed package.
Posted February 2021 Back to Resources
Repacking is becoming more popular in today’s retail environments. At a high level, repacking happens when a company breaks down master cases (bulk) into single or mixed packs.
For example, “variety packs” – a variety of products from a specific manufacturer all packaged together in a single box – typically involve repacking operations. Generally regarded as a marketing tactic, these packs work by giving in to consumer’s desire for choice, allowing them to try smaller versions of products before a bigger buy, giving them more bang for their buck.
Beyond variety packs, several consumer goods displayed in retail stores also involve repacking. For example, our feline and canine friends have long appreciated different flavors of food in the same package (and we’ve long appreciated only having to buy one package of it). Beer, nail polish, even bandaids and socks have found their way into mixed packs thanks to repacking – the possibilities truly are endless.
Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and other manufacturing companies generally contract out to Third Party Logistics (3PL) companies to create these mixed packs, and automating this portion of repacking away from manual work has proven to be difficult.
A main reason for this difficulty is that creating mixed packs requires high changeovers of production runs. Different configurations for a given set of SKUs change rapidly – even multiple times during the same shift. SKUs within the packs themselves also change frequently, typically on a monthly basis, adding even more configurations and further complicating the process. The amount of flexibility that mixed pack operations require is normally too much for traditional automation to handle. On top of this, mixed pack contracts are short (generally 2-5 years), making high capital expense (CapEx) investment for traditional automation difficult to justify for most 3PLs.
Vicarious has created a solution that solves many of the problems seen in traditional automation of repacking. Powered by neuroscience-inspired AI, Vicarious robots visually identify each individual item when constructing each mixed package. There is no fixturing or pre-sorting required, and 3PLs are able to enter their own product configurations and instantly change from one to another during a production run, without the downtime seen in traditional automation.
In addition, our proprietary vision technology can learn up to 200 new SKUs every month, which is much faster than other AI stacks on the market. This gives companies the flexibility to add or remove SKUs from their mixed packs as they figure out which configurations work best for customers.
Finally, Vicarious has the perfect solution to address the typical short duration of these contracts and production runs. With our unique Robots-as-a-Service business model, customers pay zero upfront capital expenses and instead pay only a flat fee (either per unit or per month) for the contract duration. This ensures customers are protected from the financial risks associated with the accelerating product cycles required for mixing packing.
Companies across the world are joining Vicarious at the cutting edge of robotics research and design. Reap the benefits of modern automation with no strings attached.
See our solution at work in the video below.