As is always the case, Intelligrated's press conference covered a lot of ground, featuring introductions to new product designs as well as an overview of the company's near-term plans and executives' assessment of business conditions affecting their customers and the material handling industry.
New products on display included the IntelliSort HDS, a sliding shoe sorter for high-density parcel and e-commerce operations. The sorter's innovative dual-sided design accommodates a high density of divert destinations in minimal floor space. The sorter is capable of handling cartons, jiffy mailers, and polybags with specially designed inductions and discharges. This makes it an ideal solution for zone-skipping applications that presort orders according to destination region prior to releasing them to last-mile carriers, Intelligrated said.
Also on display was the company's robotic each picking system, which combines robotics, an AS/RS shuttle system, and vertical conveyor to deliver fully automated each picking. Other features include model-free vision technology that does not require item scanning, enabling easy addition of new SKUs (stock-keeping units). The end-of-arm tooling, known as a "smart hand," combines both vacuum and gripper pick capabilities to adapt to the object shape for accurate picks. Learning with every grasp, it uses sensor feedback and a database of previous SKUs and picking methods to improve future picks.
CEO Chris Cole discussed the "fierce competition" in retail, the 8- to 12-percent growth in e-commerce, and the challenges of finding and retaining labor that are driving demand for automated solutions. In this environment, he said, "downtime is simply not an option," leading customers to increasingly place a premium on high-quality aftermarket and technical support services. Intelligrated, Cole said, is looking at "new ways to use technology and software to fulfill that need," adding that demand for automated solutions and attendant services may be growing so fast that it is "outstripping the entire industry's ability to deliver."
Brian Hovey of Honeywell's Safety & Productivity Solutions group talked about Intelligrated's role in its new parent's lineup and confirmed that the company would be investing in support for Intelligrated's expanded offerings in Europe and Asia, where Honeywell has a strong presence. Intelligrated will also take advantage of a new technical resource center in Eastern Europe and Honeywell's team of 5,000 engineers and programmers in India.
For more information, see Intelligrated's website.