Feature Friday – Stella
Do you ever feel like a robot? Have your actions turned monotonous, going through the same motions day after day? If so, follow our footsteps and hire a robot to join your team! Stella, our robotic associate, is a breeze to employ. She strictly follows directions and gets along well with others. She diligently works around the clock and even straight through her lunch break! Plus, her eyelashes are always on point!
Before Stella, two Stuller employees spent their workdays as runners in the stone setting department. Traveling about the division, these workers passed along works-in-progress from one area to the next. They manually kept track of jobs, trekking up and down the aisles of Stuller Studios and covering nearly 16,500 square feet. Since Stella’s introduction, these two employees have been repositioned in the company, practicing their skill set elsewhere.
Created by Adept Technologies (now known as Omron Automation), Stella is an Autonomous Indoor Vehicle or AIV for short. Specifically designed for the manufacturing environment, this particular model travels around tight spaces, avoiding obstacles and navigating through busy, populated areas. Her onboard scanning sensor shoots forward up to 50 feet ahead. If there’s an obstacle in her path, Stella will back up just enough to go around whatever stands in her way. She even has two rear-facing sonar scanners that sense obstacles while backing up. At first, workers dodged the moving robot to stay out of her way. But soon enough, they learned that Stella would safely navigate around them and anything else.
Stella sticks to her pre-programmed route. Configured to travel in set parameters, she follows a virtual map of her operating space. She greets coworkers by name upon entering their area and pauses at each workstation on her route. This gives the stone setters time to take necessary items from her shelves. Then they add their projects to her bins and send them down the line to the next associate. After roughly fifteen minutes, Stella will return once again.
Towering over 6 feet, Stella has a lofty presence. She transports works-in-process from one station to the next using vertical custom shelving. Her colorfully labeled baskets ensure organization and easy retrieval of parts and pieces. On her back, Stella has an interactive panel that allows for manual commands. Simply press the “wait” button to pause her route, or direct her to a different department.
Her hard work does not go unnoticed. Stella’s service has significantly improved productivity while streamlining the production process. She enables Stuller to fill orders faster, resulting in reduced lead times. The impact is huge, especially during the busy holiday season. In fact, during the Christmas rush, Stuller accomplished 22 percent more production while incurring 21 percent less overtime than the prior year. The stone setting department was able to accomplish two to three days’ work in advance.
How would a robot fare in your store? Tell us how that would go in the comments below!
Catch last week’s Feature Friday post about the intern turned in-law here.