Robotic arm connected to AutoStore at Solar

After implementing AutoStore in 2018, Solar’s picking productivity skyrocketed. Now they are the first customer to put the robotic piece-picking unit eOperator into a production environment.

In 1919, a young visionary from Denmark predicted how industrialization and electrification would create a need for electrical components and created Solar. The company is now listed, counts 3.000 employees, and has subsidiaries in five countries.

Over a hundred years after the startup, Solar still embraces that same visionary spirit and is a firm believer in adopting new technology. With this attitude, combined with Solar’s major selling point in having fast and precise deliveries, it is natural for them to become the first to connect their existing AutoStore solution with Element Logic’s robotics piece-picking technology, eOperator. This makes Solar one of the world’s first to automate piece-picking this way.

Modernizing with eOperator

“The demands for efficiency and development are high, and at Solar, we wish to be a part of the robotic and technical development,” says Sondre Ressem, VP Operations at Solar.

eOperator, Element Logic’s robotic piece-picking unit, has now been in operation at Solar’s warehouse in Norway for a couple of months. It picks customer orders from the carousel port in AutoStore directly into packages ready to be sent out to customers.

Portrait of Sondre Ressem with highlightet quote

“We wanted eOperator to keep up with the developing trends in society. Our goal is to keep growing while also focusing on costs, efficiency, sustainability, and digitization. To do this, we need to adopt new technology – new technology that can help us in our daily work and production,” Ressem says.

A milestone installation

“The pressure on supply chains today is massive. That is why we created eOperator to help our customers be even more efficient through automation,” says Henrik Berglund, business developer at Element Logic.

Berglund has been responsible for the development of eOperator and explains that the Solar installation is a milestone.

“Now it is at work in a real warehouse, in a production environment, handling real customer orders, and operated by Solar’s warehouse staff. The numbers of pickable products and picking performance are also exceeding our expectations”, Berglund says.

Scalability, and giving customers the ability to grow with the system is a major reason for choosing Element Logic as your automation partner.

“eOperator provides us with another tool in the scalability toolbox. For many customers this will be the next natural evolution of their automated warehouse“, Berglund explains.

Highlighted quote from Henrik Berglund and image of robotarm.

eOperator – the next level of automation

“We were the first to implement AutoStore in warehouses, and now we are the first to successfully integrate the eOperator”, Niklas Top Aanesen, key account manager in Element Logic Norway, explains.

The addition of the eOperator makes Element Logic able to create even more efficient and reliable automation solutions for customers across a wide range of industries and sizes. It allows customers to increase order capacity, goods handling, and fulfillment speed.

Highlighet quote from Niklas Top Aanesen and portrait

“The robotic arm can see a new product and attempt to pick it up without any preprogramming for that specific item. In other words, our customers do not need any preparation work to expand their product portfolio,” Aanesen says.

Robot arm picking brown box from AutoStore
INTELLIGENT: Using machine learning, the eOperator learns from a mistake and automatically finds the best way to pick the item.

Automated picking – integrated with AutoStore

eOperator helps Solar in their daily production, explains department manager Dan Espen Kvale.

“The installation was plug and play, and the feedback from the warehouse workers is that it is easy to use,” Kvale says. “With this robotic arm, we are further developing the AutoStore solution and are at the technological forefront of our industry.”

Red Line AutoStore robots on grid at Solar’s warehouse
EVOLUTION: eOperator lets Solar yield even more efficiency from their AutoStore solution.

The robotic arm works at a carousel port in a tunnel under the AutoStore grid, blending right in between warehouse workers on other picking stations. It is surrounded by conveyor belts transporting packages to the entrance of the warehouse.

“It works really well. We are interested in further development and to see if we can include even more robot arms in our production,” Ressem says.

This is eOperator

eOperator is Element Logic’s robotic piece-picking technology, or robot arm solution. It is developed to work with AutoStore to automate warehouses further. eOperator increases order capacity, goods handling, and fulfillment speed with machine learning technology and creates a link between AutoStore and the material flow handling solution.

The arm is based on hardware from the Boston-based robotics company Right Hand Robotics. For two years, it has gone through rigorous testing and constant development by Element Logic’s R&D department to become the solution it is today. With its software eOperator can communicate with any WMS software, AutoStore robots and our eManager software.

Warehouse workforce initially skeptical

“A few employees were skeptical in the beginning, worried whether the robotic arm would take over their tasks. However, after working with it for a while, they see that it improves their daily work,” Kvale says.

“Getting access to new technology and developing new skills does something with our employees. They think it is exciting to work with cutting-edge technology,” Ressem adds.

Female warehouse worker with face mask
WORKING HAND IN HAND: Solar’s super-user Eva has been working with eOperator lately.

Facts and figures:

  • 1.150 m2 grid (3 772 ft2)
  • 40 Red Line robots
  • 1 eOperator
  • 35.000 bins
  • 12 Carousel ports
  • eManager

Collage of packages being transported through warehouse on conveyor belts and Dan Espen Kvale.

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