US Patent No. 10,427,873

CLUSTER-BASED-SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR E-COMMERCE-ORDER FULFILLMENT


Patent No. 10,427,873
Issue Date October 01, 2019
Title Cluster-based-system And Method For E-commerce-order Fulfillment
Inventorship Hartmut Mause, Williamston, SC (US)
Patrick Englert, Wasserlosen (DE)
Assignee Schaefer Systems International, Inc., Charlotte, NC (US)

Claim of US Patent No. 10,427,873

1. An article-handling system for order fulfillment comprising:one or more pick-and-pack clusters;
an overhead conveyor system, which includes a network of overhead conveyors, for conveying pouches;
a floor-bound conveyor system, which includes a network of floor-bound conveyors, for conveying storage units holding articles; and
a control unit;
wherein each of the one or more pick-and-pack clusters comprises the following modules:
an automated warehouse comprising a plurality of racks and aisles therebetween, wherein the racks are configured for storage and retrieval of storage units by an automated storage and retrieval device;
a plurality of pick stations connected to the warehouse via the floor-bound conveyor system for delivering the storage units from the warehouse, wherein each of the pick stations is configured for loading the articles, in accordance with an article type and number defined by an order, from the storage units into the pouches; and
one or more merge-and-pack stations connected to the pick stations via the overhead conveyor system for delivery of loaded pouches, and connected to the warehouse via the floor-bound conveyor system for delivery of the storage units, wherein each of the merge-and-pack stations is configured to unload articles from the delivered storage units and the loaded pouches, and to transfer the unloaded articles in a packing sequence to one or more shipping units;
wherein the control unit is configured to perform the following steps:
generating a packing pattern for the order defining the packing sequence;
assigning one of the one or more merge-and-pack stations to the order;
analyzing the order with regard to pouchable and non-pouchable articles associated with the order, wherein each of the pouchable articles is sized and heavy such that it fits into one of the pouches, and wherein each of the non-pouchable articles is at least one of sized and heavy such that it does not fit into one of the pouches;
causing: i.) retrieval of corresponding storage units, which contain the pouchable articles associated with the order, from the warehouse, ii.) delivery of the retrieved storage units to one or more of the pick stations, and iii.) loading the pouchable articles from the delivered storage units into one or more of the pouches at the one or more pick stations;
causing transport of loaded pouches from the one or more pick stations to the assigned merge-and-pack station;
causing transport of corresponding storage units, which contain the non-pouchable articles associated with the order, to the assigned merge-and-pack station; and
synchronizing arrivals of the loaded pouches and the corresponding storage units, which contain the non-pouchable articles associated with the order, and unloading the pouchable and non-pouchable articles associated with the order at the assigned merge-and-pack station so that the pouchable and non-pouchable articles associated with the order are transferable in the packing sequence to one or more shipping units associated with the order and the packing pattern.