Snap-On Teams up With FastFetch
Inefficient packaging and box sizes that are too large are two of the biggest problems for e-commerce customers.
However, large companies and online retailers are responding to these issues and constantly innovating in order to reduce shipping costs, help the environment, and get rid of useless cardboard. Not only can this minimize the environmental impact of shipping, but it also improves customer service and builds a positive reputation for the industry at large.
The main point of contention – however, is at what point does improved packaging become cost-prohibitive? Furthermore, are there real-world examples of companies working together to improving packaging for direct-to-consumer sales?
Fortunately, the mechanical tool giant manufacturer and distributor, Snap-on Tools, has recently partnered with FastFetch Corp. FastFetch is a company that offers an artificial intelligence solution that is aimed at correcting the aforementioned problems.
Let’s take a quick look at how these two companies may work with one another collaboratively to create the next big innovation in AI solutions for the supply chain industry.
The Role of AI in Fulfillment
With the new era of e-commerce, cardboard boxes are no longer hidden from sight in stockrooms or cargo trucks; they are branding tools and are frequently used as environmental influencers that represent the company’s brand and values.
And since that is the case, many modern companies tend to take a good deal of pride in their packaging processes.
Since thousands of items are shipped daily, companies now consider their packaging as an opportunity to both enhance the customer experience and save money. Matching items to their appropriate boxes, however, can be challenging.
This is where Snap-on Tools comes into play.
The company has discovered that artificial intelligence is the best way to get this done. They have decided to partner up with FastFetch to work on new innovative AI projects.
It’s All About Collaboration
Snap-on Tools is one of the largest suppliers of equipment, tools, and service solutions. Serving customers in over 130 countries, this company is worth $3.7 billion and is based in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The company’s product line consists of over 65,000 SKUs for products such as diagnostic software, hand and power tools, and shop equipment for industries such as automotive, construction, agriculture, and more.
Snap-on Tools’ products range in size and shape, from small keychains to large tool storage units, and each shipment has a different collection of products. This makes packing the items into boxes like a game of Tetris, and any wasted space is money lost. So, it really is no wonder why the company took such interest in finding a new, more viable solution to the packaging of products.
The FastFetch AI Solution
In 2018, Snap-on Tools found a custom solution by partnering with the order-fulfillment systems provider FastFetch.
Snap-on and FastFetch worked together to design a carton-management system that measures the size of boxes, dispenses them at corresponding packing stations, and then replenishes them as they are used. There are six packing stations with three carton racks that hold an assortment of boxes of various sizes, all of which were predetermined by AI that analyzed historical order data.
To get to this point, FastFetch first had to analyze over 80,000 records to identify about 45 box sizes that accommodate Snap-on’s shipments with minimal space wasted. Next, the AI software cut the number of sizes down by an extra 30% and revealed the optimal assortment of sizes using a two-step calculation process.
After the boxes were ready to be packed, FastFetch’s AI software used another formula to determine the best possible placement, orientation, contain ability (optimizing space by placing some items inside of others), and other properties such as nesting or stacking items to generate an order of items.
Next, this order’s barcode is scanned, and the software chooses a box to pack the order in by computing the optimal dimensions of the box. Packing is then done by the worker without any specific item-placement instructions to slow down the process.
For packing, workers grab boxes from the carton rack while replenishers fill gaps with new boxes. LED lighted strips on each side of the carton rack are used to indicate which boxes should be used for packing or restocking.
Each carton rack has boxes that can be used at two packing stations, and the color of the LED lights indicate which packing station the box should go to.
Looking to the Future
When we talk about artificial intelligence, really we are talking about the future. And as time goes on, the industry continues to get one step closer to fully automated workflows and dimension-perfect packaging processes.
We are excited to see what the future holds for the integration of more AI platforms in supply chains across the globe. Innovation, collaboration, and connectivity is always within grasp when it comes to logistics, that much is for sure.
If you’d like to learn more about how AI and automation technology is changing the logistics industry, reach out to the logistics experts at Redwood Logistics!