For the past month, a new machine has been installed in the huge GXO warehouse, located in the Ain plain, north of Lyon. The global logistics specialist has set up an automatic packaging line to respond to the significant increase in e-commerce in its parcel packaging activity. According to this innovative process, each cardboard package is cut to the nearest millimeter, in a handful of seconds, to adapt to the volume of the packed object.
“It’s a very important technological leap, which plays on the three dimensions of a package. Previously, on a packaging line, we could only lower the height of a box by folding it, without changing the surface of its base. With this process, we modulate width, height, depth ”, summarizes Stéphane Combrisson, 49, director of operations at GXO.
The process is impressive. At the entrance to the line, an operator takes the ordered objects from the boxes automatically transferred within his reach, the contents of which were taken from the stocks of the gigantic warehouse. It can be a single object, or several products. Once constituted, the order is placed on the conveyor belt. Then it sets out again in automatic mode, registered, weighed, then passes under detection cells, which calculate its dimensions. Immediately, a strip of cardboard activates at the other end of the chain. The machine cuts out the correct size, places the object (s) on the cardboard box, slides the correct one inside, folds everything and sticks the label with the address. In seconds, the custom-packed order is ready to go, transferred to the delivery vans that are at the dock.
In addition to profitability and favorable ecological impact, the automatic packaging machine responds to a new logistics situation: the personalization of packages.
The machine is capable of conditioning up to 700 packages per hour, of varying sizes, for each operation. It employs two to eight operators, depending on the needs. The process saves an average of 10% to 15% cardboard. The offcuts are collected, compacted and recycled. The T-shaped machine, 25 meters in length, represents only a marginal part of the general activity of the site.
1.2 million packages per year
With a surface area of 52,000 square meters, the GXO warehouse handles 12 million parts, and 1.2 million packages per year, mainly for the brands of the Amer Sports group, including the Aurhalpin Salomon. The packaging machine is only programmed to meet the needs of e-commerce. Barely in service, it is of interest to the 69 other GXO sites throughout France, employing around 5,000 employees.
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