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Robotic Warehouse Tech Firm 6 River Outlines Strategies for Safety-First Fulfillment

Aiming to strengthen capabilities to protect workers in dark stores, warehouses and fulfillment centers, 6 River Systems (6RS), part of commerce company Shopify Inc., released recommendations to its customers to further safeguard employees from pathogens during the picking process in these venues.

The company’s recommendations span operational modifications and improvements to the hardware and software for its collaborative robot, Chuck, while also highlighting the availability of new products for its wall-to-wall fulfillment solution. Dark stores are retail or distribution centers solely used for online order fulfillment.

“These updated capabilities build on the best practices and safety protocols we’ve developed over the last several years, allowing operators to continue getting the most from their fulfillment solution while protecting the most valuable asset within their business–the people they employ,” Jerome Dubois, co-CEO of 6 River Systems, said.

The company is collaborating closely with customers to optimize sites for social distancing measures already in place amid the coronavirus pandemic. Without making changes to a site’s operational design, Chuck enables a base level of social distancing by automating long walks between induct, active picking and takeoff areas, reducing crowding on the warehouse floor.

By restricting aisle traffic and setting static zoning rules, operators can also ensure associates remain within their own zones while Chuck crosses from one to the next.  Chuck is also designed with large, easy-to-clean and robust action and pause buttons and lights, reducing interactions with touchscreens, 6RS said. Chuck’s touchscreens are compatible with styluses and with a wide variety of gloves, which helps prevent cross-associate contamination.

To further encourage associate hygiene, 6RS is updating its software to remind associates to wipe down Chuck’s high-touch areas as soon as they begin working with a new robot. 6RS is actively working to create an accessory for all customers to equip Chucks with a holder for hand sanitizer, wipes and gloves.

In addition, 6RS is now offering a tote autoloader/unloader solution to customers. This type of automation increases safety by reducing touches to common surfaces and is designed to maximize customers’ throughput during peaks.

Based in Waltham, Mass., 6RS is a collaborative mobile robotics fulfillment solution provider. The 6 River Systems solution is operating in more than 20 facilities in the U.S., Canada and Europe, fulfilling millions of units each week for companies including DHL and XPO Logistics.