Joe Tosolt Archive
CSSI Adds MiR Mobile Robots to AMR Lineup

CSSI Simplifies Internal Transportation with Advanced Mobile Robots

CSSI Technologies is now a source for autonomous mobile robots offered by MiR (Mobile Industrial Robots). Founded in 2011, MiR is a leading manufacturer in the development of robotics technology for internal logistics. MiR offers a robust line of AMR base units which can transport pallets, racks, and carts, improving productivity by reducing your usage of human-controlled material handling equipment such as forklifts, hand trucks, pallet jacks, and static conveyor systems.

MiR AMR Product Line

As the US mid-Atlantic region’s premier source for supply chain mobile computing and data capture technology, CSSI is excited to further expand its suite of product offerings for the warehouse, manufacturing facility, and distribution center, now including MiR mobile robots. CSSI will consult with you to identify your best task candidates for industrial automation, and will work with you to demo and configure the ideal AMR solution.

MiR Robot Applications & Advantages

MiRs autonomous robots (such as the MiR100 robot) are suitable for a broad range of internal logistics tasks, such as parts-to-line, kitting/picking, putaway, pallet transport, and trash removal. The automation of these internal transport tasks allows you to redeploy expensive human workers to higher value activities, and reduces challenges in keeping the workforce adequately staffed.

MiR mobile robots are easy to implement, even in highly dynamic environments with heavy loads. CSSI will work with you to assess and map your facility, and program your desired workflows. You can have an initial workflow up and running for a powerful robot within hours. As your needs expand, it’s extremely easy to grow your AMR fleet – simply deploy new units.

Overlapping Safety Mechanisms

Safety considerations are critical for an autonomous mobile robot, particularly when the unit will be working in environments shared with people. A MiR robot can be deployed without special training for your co-workers. Starting with your facility map: you can designate zones for preferred travel, as well as no-go or go-slow zones. The AMR’s array of sensors and powerful onboard software will always stay attentive to the local environment, as the robot optimizes or alters its planned path if obstacles are detected.

MiR mobile robot utilizes 3 separate types of sensors to visualize the environment and recognize obstacles and hazards. Dual-laser scanner, 3D camera, and proximity sensors are combined to create a digital picture, which MiR’s powerful AI engine uses to determine the best and safest course of action.

Function-Enabling AMR Add-Ons (‘Top Units’)

The core MiR autonomous mobile robot products are combined with one of many types of ‘top units’. These are functional add-ons which integrate with the robot to enable particular functionality – such pallet lifts or a collaborative robot arm. MiR offers a catalog of top units created by itself as well as 3rd parties. This creates a broader set of solutions, and allows you to assign different tasks to your autonomous robot over time as your needs change.

Powerful MiR Fleet Software

Each MiR robot has on-board AI and motion control software which enables you to configure and control the unit. However, if you will use multiple robots in the same facility, MiR Fleet software brings an increased ability to coordinate and optimize the actions of the mobile industrial robot fleet.

  • Prioritize which autonomous robot handles given automation tasks based on position and availability
  • Plans and coordinates the use of different top modules
  • Connects to your WMS, ERP, and PLC’s. Integrate with other software through REST API.
  • Can handle a fleet of up to 100 robots
MiR Fleet software for AMR management

Schedule Your MiR Robot Introduction

You can learn more by visiting our dedicated Mobile Industrial Robots (Mir) page. The team at CSSI is ready to discuss the use of MiRs autonomous robots to improve your internal logistics and material handling productivity. Please contact us to schedule your in-person robotics demo today.

For years, Zebra’s TC series of Android handheld computers has provided durable mobile computing solutions for the enterprise. The TC7x has always been the toughest, ‘best-in-class’ part of the product family.

Zebra has just announced the latest version in this rugged mobile computer family… the TC73 and TC78. This is a significant leap forward in terms of computing power, user ergonomics, durability, and productivity-enhancing features such as an improved barcode scanner.

Zebra TC73/TC78 Offers Major Upgrades Over Prior Versions

zebra tc73 front view
  • Larger and brighter 6-inch FHD+ tough display (Gorilla Glass)
  • More rugged – 10ft drop spec to concrete!
  • Enhanced ergonomics – thinner grip area, and contoured back and sides
  • Includes barcode scanner: choose between advanced scan engines, SE4770 or SE55
  • Hot swap batteries
  • Faster Qualcomm processor
  • 7% lighter than prior model
  • Complete family of accessories

Difference Between TC73 and TC78 Handheld Computer

The 2 versions of this handheld are identical with the exception that the TC73 is Wi-Fi only, whereas the TC78 offers both Wi-Fi and 5G capability. So TC78 is the right choice for work in the field where remote connections are important, whereas TC73 is the best option when the device will only be used ‘within the company walls’ with wireless networks. For example, TC78 would typically be the best choice in direct store delivery or field service usage, whereas for warehouse or retail store usage, the TC73 would be sufficient. Both units include bluetooth.

tc73 bottom view

Target Use Environments for the TC73-TC78

The TC73-TC78 can boast a broad range of great ‘use cases’. Basically, any environment which requires rugged devices, exceptional battery life and scanning capability, and a large touch screen (but not tablet-sized).

Some typical great applications for the TC73 and TC78 include:

Parcel DeliveryManufacturing
Field MobilityWarehouse
Field ServicePublic Service / First Responders
Direct Store Delivery (DSD)Distribution Centers
Route AccountingRetail

Learn More About the TC73/TC78 Handheld Computer

Contact CSSI for information on this powerful new Android computer and schedule your hands-on demo today. CSSI is a Zebra Technologies partner, and pleased to discuss, deploy, and support this product with you. CSSI offers a broad range of professional services to ensure successful rollouts and smooth ongoing usage.

TC73-TC78_Spec-Sheet_CSSI-Technologies

Warehouse Growth – A Steam Train With No End In Sight

According to Forbes, warehousing is a “steam train with no end in sight”. Driven by massive surges in ecommerce activity, which was only accelerated by the pandemic, warehouse absorption reached 250 million square feet in 2021, up sharply over the previous 5-year average of 211 million square feet.

Fulfillment operations struggle to keep up with rising demand, larger facilities… and operations hamstrung by a tight labor market and rapid employee turnover. All this at the same time that customer expectations for shipment speed and supply chain accuracy reach new highs, the ‘acceptable performance’ bar for responsiveness and inventory management having been raised by leading players such as Amazon.

But technology has answers, with warehouse automation technology such as the inventory retrieval system, the autonomous mobile robot, the automated guided vehicle, and automated storage… all improving inventory control and warehouse efficiency.

Warehouse Robotics To The Rescue

State of the art warehouse operations have for years increasingly adopted and refined warehouse automation technology such as autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) for material handling and order fulfillment. In 2022, it could be said that these technologies are now not only accessible to the rest of the market… they are increasingly becoming table stakes for anyone hoping to run a top-performing operation. There will rapidly come a day when warehouse automation systems and a solid warehouse execution system will be required just to maintain basic supply chain competitiveness.

Warehouse automation both mitigates the need for the same quantity of hard-to-attract workers and dramatically improves the productivity of each warehouse worker on staff. Output gains of 2X and 3X are routinely seen in projects which deliver positive ROI for the firm.

Surging Warehouse Robotics Adoption

The warehouse management industry is getting the message, and adoption of robotics in the supply chain is surging.

According to Statista, there are strong warehouse automation trends: The warehousing robotics market is expected to grow 137% from 2021 to 2030 (from $14.7 billion to $6.2 billion). Today, approximately 5% of warehouse space is automated. In a Freight Waves article, Rick Faulk, the CEO of Locus Robotics, says “I don’t think there is a ceiling. There will be another 6 or 7 billion square feet of warehouse space built over the next several years and that all needs to be automated.” Of course, that would not even include the massive square footage of existing warehouses, which almost must be modernized.

It’s an exciting time to be in warehousing!

Read the whole article to learn more about warehouse automation and robotics:

Warehouse robotics CEO: ‘I don’t think there is a ceiling’

Ready to explore warehouse automation with robotics in your facility?

Curious about the primary benefits of autonomous mobile robots? If you think that autonomous robots may be a fit for your warehouse or distribution center, now is a great time to kick off your project. CSSI’s team of warehouse management and AMR experts can review your workflows (picking, putaway, shipping, etc.) to identify automation opportunities which will transform your productivity. Consult with CSSI to discuss a warehouse automation solution. Contact CSSI to start the conversation.

Fetch Autonomous Mobile Robot Product Family
The Zebra Fetch line of Autonomous Mobile Robots

Creating ROI using Mobile Robotics for Material Transport

New technologies for warehouse automation and the rise of mobile robotics for material handling have created fertile new ground for improving productivity in the warehouse operation. Most of us have seen photos or video of products from companies such as Fetch Robotics or Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) buzzing around a manufacturing operation, and even more have seen impressive footage of the robotic ‘dog’ from Boston Dynamics performing impressive physical feats.

Intuitively, we understand that autonomous mobile robots benefits the company and its human workers, but we may not have a complete picture of precisely HOW robots provide benefits. Let’s discuss several ways:

5 Benefits of AMRs

1. AMRs improve labor productivity

For human workers to be productive, they must stay on-task, with all necessary material and supplies. Autonomous mobile robots can step in to keep the worker supplied and to eliminate non-productive travel time. No need for the worker to step away from the point of work in search of parts or supplies – an AMR can bring the materials to the worker. With more time on task, productivity rises.

Fetch Freight1500 AMR warehouse worker

2. Reduce picking errors with AMRs

Shipping errors can be expensive. Not only does the company bear additional transport costs and potential product loss, but there is also a customer satisfaction impact which can be devastating over time. These errors can be eliminated at the source: picking. An autonomous robot which provides picking support, for example with an integrated screen requiring the picker to confirm that the correct item has been selected, can make it near-impossible for the pick error to occur.

Fetch FlexShelf AMR picking operation

3. AMRs reduce downtime caused by wasted travel of personnel

It’s well known that forklift accidents are a constant source of concern for the warehouse and production facility. People make mistakes, and thus human-controlled forklifts will inevitably have accidents. Autonomous mobile robots have developed artificial intelligence with significant and redundant safety requirements to ensure safe operation. AMRs boast arrays of onboard sensors and cameras intended to come as close as possible to eliminating safety incidents. Further, AMRs perform exactly as specified through software, without danger of performance changing due to fatigue, distraction, or boredom caused by repetitive tasks, as may be the case with forklifts under manual operation by a human worker.

Fetch CartConnect100 AMR in warehouse

4. Reduce new employee training time with AMRs

Worker turnover is higher than ever, and employee tenures are short. It is imperative that companies minimize the time it takes to train new team members. An AMR solution can help with this. By creating standard processes, clear onscreen instructions, and through simplification of tasks enabled by the collaborative robot, it’s possible to train an employee faster. The AMR can also help to support the employee’s training and learning, for example, by providing immediate feedback in a picking operation whether the correct item has been selected.

autonomous mobile robots reduce worker training time with intuitive interface screens

5. Maximize facility efficiency with AMRs

The autonomous mobile robot is not just for picking operations. AMRs can also be used for the automation of bulk material movement. For example, transfers of cases or pallets can be automated with an autonomous robot. Another exciting feature is the AMRs ability to eliminate the need for long runs of conveyors. Products such as the Fetch RollerTop create a virtual conveyor– which is easily modifiable, extendable, and frees up large volumes of floor space which might otherwise have been blocked with fixed infrastructure conveyor runs.

Zebra Fetch AMR - RollerTop - material transfer

How to get started with autonomous mobile robots

Start by making contact with CSSI Technologies, Pennsylvania-based experts in AMR solutions for your supply chain management operations. The warehouse and manufacturing operation experts at CSSI will work with you to find your killer AMR application and will propose AMR solutions from leading robotics providers to fit your business. Contact us today to start with AMRs.

Fetch Autonomous Mobile Robot Product Family

Does Terminal Emulation Hold Back Your Worker Productivity?

Many warehouses and manufacturing businesses utilize terminal emulation environments (TE) in order to interact with their back-end systems on a mobile device or rugged tablet. TE, also referred to as telnet, is a well-established technology for this purpose, however, it is not without drawbacks:

  • A monochromatic green screen is difficult to read
  • Inability to take advantage of modern touch interfaces
  • Difficult for mobile computer users to learn – non-intuitive interaction with the software utilizing the keybord

As the turnover of mobile workers accelerates and warehouse volumes increase, it’s important to reduce training time while improving the efficiency and productivity of mobile users.

Modernized TE Screen Benefits

In the brief video above, you can see side-by-side comparisons of a typical TE green screen compared with a modernized screen . Note the improved legibility, the intuitive use of buttons, color, and graphics, and the ability to reduce ‘touches’. Which screen would you prefer to work with during a busy day?

CSSI is able to modernize TE screens without making changes to back-end systems! This is critical to know, because it means that you can quickly adjust the way information is presented on mobile devices without having to get under the hood of complex legacy software. Our modernization software runs on the device, controlling how data is presented on the mobile screen without changing any information in the back-end.

Terminal Emulation Modernization Benefits Include:

  • Faster training
  • Improved user ergonomics
  • Ability to adapt to special user needs (can even accommodate multiple languages)
  • Reduction of taps and key entries
  • Boosted user productivityFaster training of new users
  • Improved ergonomics with superior user interface
  • Ability to adapt to special user needs (can even accommodate multiple languages)
  • Reduction of taps and key entries improves efficiency
  • Enables rapid migration from old Windows Mobile devices to Android, including existing applications
  • Increased productivity of mobile workers

More About Handheld Screen Modernization

To learn more about how CSSI can help to modernize your mobile device beyond the green screen, while improving inventory workflow and existing systems, please contact us today.

Eliminating Wasted Travel In the Warehouse

In fast-moving fulfillment and warehouse environments, companies are seeking every opportunity to improve productivity. Solutions such as material handling robots, barcode scanners, and wearable computers often come to mind. However, it’s important not to overlook one of the most common (and most easily addressed) sources of waste: travel waste. With travel waste, we are referring to the cumulatively vast amount of distance employees must travel back and forth from the point of work to print labels at the stationary point where the print station is located.

Fixed location printers become a source of time waste, as well as expensive shipping mistakes. It’s impossible to quickly improve this problem, with immediate results, with the adoption of an all-in-one mobile labeling station.

Benefits of a Mobile Labeling System

  • Significantly improve output (as much as doubling productivity!) by allowing employees to remain on-task, instead of walking back and forth to printers
  • Reduce labeling errors – printing labels at the point of use reduces the likelihood that they will be mixed up and applied to the wrong item.
  • A mobile printer can be a great solution in some cases, however, the label format and label printing requirements may require a full-sized industrial printer

Accessories For Your Powered Computer Cart

The specific configuration of your mobile labeling station will be dependent upon your workflow and requirements. Common accessories include:

Configure a Mobile Labeling Station Today

CSSI offers configurable and durable carts from Newcastle Systems, which boast a swappable battery system, and can be ordered to include the label printer of your choice. The ROI for mobile labeling stations and powered computer carts can be exceptional. Start by contacting CSSI so that we can learn more about your application and suggest effective solutions.

CSSI can also support your needs for shipping label stock, and in many instances can help you with programs providing free replacement thermal printheads for your thermal transfer printer. Speak to us to learn more.

warehouse mobile printer cart
A Mobile Labeling Station Keeps Your Team On-Task

Support Your Warehouse Modernization Initiatives

Modernizing your manufacturing and warehouse operations with up-to-date mobile computing and data capture technologies is essential for your company’s competitiveness and inventory management. But like many firms, you may lack the IT bandwidth or expertise in Android mobile devices and barcode scanners. CSSI can make your warehouse upgrades painless with a range of white glove services. Our team provides the expertise and know-how to adopt best practices and accelerate your project – and accelerate your operations!

CSSI Technical Services Include:

CSSI is more than just a source for rugged mobile computers for the modern warehouse and manufacturing floor. We can provide all the managed service and support you need to get your devices operational, and keep them running securely for years to come.

Device Lifecycle Management – a Turn-Key Service

CSSI wraps these services up into a product we call Device Lifecycle Management. This is a one-stop solution through which we will manage configurations, deployment, updates, and troubleshooting for your fleet of mobile devices. We find that this is a great option for overburdened IT teams, and those who lack expertise in the Android OS and/or mobile device management.

Learn More About CSSI White-Glove Technical Support Services

To learn more about our white glove services supporting warehouse modernization and automation initiatives, please contact CSSI.

Warehouse Management Systems Improve Operational Efficiency

Warehouse management software (WMS) is a critical tool for companies which maintain inventory and conduct receiving and shipping processes. In a competitive business world, a well-implemented WMS solution enables your warehouse operation to keep up with rapidly changing supply chain needs, improve customer satisfaction, and ensure accuracy. There are many key WMS features, but which are most critical to support your warehouse operations and operational efficiency?

Here are 5 top benefits of warehouse management software

Reason 1. Improve inventory accuracy and visibility

The introduction of barcode scanning and real-time computer information provides a massive improvement in a company’s ability to understand its current inventory positions and locations on a sku-by-sku basis – even in a multiple warehouse operation. The WMS system supports inventory tracking — noting each inventory movement, the quantities available, and quantities picked. This is a light-year improvement over paper-based processes. Further, a warehouse management software enables the easy implementation of cycle counts and general inventory counts, which enable the company to make frequent adjustments and meet inventory level targets. In our fast-moving business environment, this enables the company to rapidly respond when reorders must be placed, or avoid orders when counts are too high.

Reason 2. Save warehouse workers time

A good WMS saves time and supports warehouse efficiency. By enabling the use of mobile computers, the WMS saves the worker time walking back and forth to PCs and accelerates order fulfillment. By putting information in the worker’s hand, it saves time looking for the next action, playing hide-and-seek with inventory, and aimless walking. The right WMS puts the next steps and the necessary info right in the user’s hand, making his or her life easier. More work gets done with fewer delays and frustration.

Reason 3. Reduce inventory tracking and picking errors

A flexible WMS enables the use of barcode scanners for automated data capture. This eliminates handwriting errors which frequently occur in paper-based inventory management processes. The worker can scan to confirm that the correct item is being picked, or that the putaway location is correct. The warehouse management system provides error messages alerting the worker to picking or putaway errors, saving the company from expensive shipping errors and the resulting customer frustration.

Reason 4. Reduce warehouse employee training time

It’s hard to find workers, and increasingly, the turnover of warehouse workers is more frequent than businesses would like. With that in mind, it’s important to be able to minimize the amount of time required for the warehouse manager to bring a new worker up to productive speed. Warehouse management systems help by providing clear processes and leading the worker through necessary steps. When screen interfaces are easy to understand and ‘next steps’ are clear, it becomes much easier for a new employee to successfully step into a role.

Reason 5. Standardized warehouse processes

WMS software commits your process to a set of code-based rules. It’s easy to overlook, but this requires you to have a well-defined warehouse process in the first place! In implementing a WMS, you will be forced to decide exactly how you want to handle specific jobs. And once implemented, the WMS effectively ensures compliance by your staff by requiring that they adhere to established rules. If a step is required by the WMS, it can no longer simply be overlooked as might happen in a paper-based system.

Bonus Reason: Be Ready For Warehouse Robotics

If our top 5 reasons to use a WMS aren’t enough, here’s a bonus: Warehouse automation is trending, as companies seek ways to improve operational efficiency. Warehouse robotics is an obvious way to improve productivity… but typically, warehouse automation systems and autonomous mobile robots rely on the WMS. Thus, implementing a warehouse management solution now prepares you for future automation innovation.

CSSI Offers a WMS for Dynamics GP

Did you know that CSSI offers warehouse management software developed for companies running the ERP system Microsoft Dynamics GP? WMS by CSSI offers all critical warehouse management features, with the added benefit of customization to meet your company’s unique needs. The WMS platform is highly scalable, and suitable for companies with just a few users all the way up to hundreds of users. Contact CSSI to learn more.

Seeking a Fast Efficiency Lift? Find the Clipboards

Every business seems to have a variety of paper forms in use, often attached to a clipboard. This has always been the traditional way of capturing data or documenting things. Forms are used for a wide range of purposes – QC, shipping paperwork, signature capture, just to name a few. While paper forms are easy to implement, and quickly become embedded in your business, we suggest that this is often not an ideal approach in our fast-moving modern business environment. Going paperless can bring major benefits.

Paper forms have shortcomings

Simple to implement, but problematic in practice. Here are several of the typical issues companies encounter with paper forms, often unwittingly:

  • Slow – Manual form data entry can be slow, particularly if much handwriting is required. Workers must take care to correctly enter information.
  • Error-prone – In any case where manual entry is allowed, errors will result. This can occur both when data is entered as well as when paper records are re-entered into a spreadsheet by a different person. Further, correct information may not be entered, or may not follow the desired format.
  • Poor data visibility – Paper form data is invisible to the rest of your organization until the paper document is ultimately transcribed to a spreadsheet. This may mean that hours, days, or even weeks pass in which information is unavailable to those who might need it.

Benefits of Electronic Forms

By contrast, digital forms address the shortcomings of paper, providing better info on a more timely basis to more people.

  • Fast – No need to transcribe part numbers or locations – capture data via barcode. Also, drop-downs can eliminate the need to manually enter common data.
  • Accurate – Minimize manual entry errors, and eliminate the need to re-key data from paper (removing an activity waste as well as a source of error). Further, it is possible to apply logic tests to input form data to ensure it meets expected formats.
  • Data immediately accessible to the organization – In a fast-moving business environment it’s perhaps most important to note the speed of electronic forms. Data can immediately be made available to key stakeholders, and can be searched for later access. An electronic signature can quickly be captured, or a photo documented. This can accelerate your business operations and customer service, and save you time and money.

Electronic Forms Are An Attainable Digital Transformation

The good news is that CSSI is fluent with a number of electronic form development tools which can streamline and accelerate the form development process to eliminate paper processes. This means that we can provide a solution for you faster and at lower cost. Solutions may be provided as an online form or as locally hosted electronic documents depending on your needs.

Much depends upon the complexity of your electronic form and the digital workflow needs for the data captured. But our team’s experience with this process translates into quality responsive electronic forms which will immediately begin to benefit your team.

Digital forms projects tend to provide quick-hitting benefits. Fast to scope, design, and implement, you can start to get ROI much quicker by eliminating paper forms than through most other technology projects. This is low-hanging fruit for productivity enhancement and cost reduction.

How To Get Started Converting Your Paper Forms To Electronic

Eliminate your paper forms by engaging with CSSI. Our team will work with you to assess your current paperless form needs, and will propose a solution which takes into account the ways in which your digital form data is used. Contact CSSI to get started with digital transformation of your critical paper forms.

Your IT Team’s Android Secret Support Weapon

As mobile computers proliferate in our organizations, businesses quickly come to depend on the availability and reliability of these devices. Handhelds which aren’t ready to go at the opening bell, or which are riddled with inconsistent and confusing configuration, can quickly become expensive, resulting in costly errors, missed deadlines, and worker frustrations.

The Android Device OS Requires a Ready-to-Update Mentality

Just as critical, the rise of the now-standard Android enterprise operating system results in a drumbeat of patches and upgrades which arrive much more frequently than past Windows updates. Your organization must be able to keep up, or you risk becoming susceptible to security risks. Corporate IT teams are often insufficiently staffed to handle these new responsibilities.

For these reasons, CSSI created Device Lifecycle Management, a service which removes the burden of mobile computer configuration and upgrade from your IT team:

How CSSI Lifecycle Management Support Helps

Lifecycle Management is a bundle of services which enable you to outsource mobile device management (MDM) to CSSI. The program can be adjusted to fit your needs, but typically includes:

  • Maintain managed device configuration standards
  • Simplify Android device deployment
  • Ease the process of post-repair handheld redeployment
  • Manage Android OS updates
  • Secure Android device data
  • Enable remote troubleshooting

Android Lifecycle management reduces the risk that you will miss key updates, and ensures that mobile computers are deployed matching approved standard configurations. This simplifies training and improves productivity, while also improving security.

How To Learn More About CSSI Lifecycle Management for Android

Contact CSSI to discuss options for our management of your mobile device fleet. Our team will be happy to discuss our device management program and capabilities.