One of the biggest challenges in automation right now is integrating disparate technologies to function together. Equipment, software, and point solutions are readily available, yet without the interoperability challenge solved, individual manufacturers aren’t equipped to create workflows that perform seamlessly. (Not without lengthy and expensive custom code.)
That’s precisely the situation Thrive Screen Printing found itself in when expanding its order fulfillment process. With their ecommerce business growing quickly, Thrive wanted to both increase their output and reduce manual picking errors by incorporating automation. Though they had determined the machinery they wanted to use to achieve those goals, the company needed guidance in bringing their objectives to fruition.
Thrive reached out to SVT Robotics. By utilizing the technology-agnostic integration capabilities of SVT’s SOFTBOT® Platform and developing a batch management system, Thrive was able to deploy automation hardware and software in a short timeframe, creating a more efficient and effective fulfillment process.
It was very apparent that SVT was the one company who thought wider than I could think…and could help us in ways that we didn’t even know we needed.
- Robert Fisher, CEO Fisher Family Holdings, parent company of Thrive Screen Printing
Laying the Groundwork for Growth
Thrive Screen Printing, based in Phoenix, Arizona, was expanding into a new facility to accommodate its growing ecommerce orders. Along with their new space capacity and demand came the need to upgrade their fulfillment process.
Before adopting automation, Thrive used a manual process that included five people handpicking, packaging, and shipping products, with an output of around 135 units per hour. Thrive also relied on human brainpower to pull the right products from 80+ SKUs — some with very minor naming differentiators. That led to errors in fulfillment, where products with nearly identical names but different SKUs might be pulled in place of correct ones.
To improve this process, Thrive purchased automated fulfillment technology, along with Fishbowl, an inventory management software, and ShipStation, an order management software. Thrive then reached out to SVT Robotics to integrate those technologies into their new facility.
SVT Robotics kicked off the project with Thrive in February of 2021, followed by on-site consultation in March to better understand their fulfillment use cases throughout the new facility.
Thrive’s goal was to connect their fulfillment technologies with Fishbowl and ShipStation to ultimately create a fully automated system. SVT’s SOFTBOT Platform would rapidly integrate all the required automation technologies to ensure proper picking, packaging, and inventory tracking for Thrive.
Additionally, SVT provided training to the Thrive team on the holistic system use case to ensure they obtained the greatest benefit from their new automation.
To complete the integrations, SVT built SOFTBOT connectors for Thrive’s inventory fulfillment tech, including Fishbowl, and ShipStation. Once completed, three feature SOFTBOTs were developed — a bin manager feature, a put-wall feature, and an order management feature — to ensure fast and correct selection, sorting, and batching when processing orders.
For example, if 100 orders are placed that include the same T-shirt, the system will recognize this data and pull all 100 simultaneously, then sort them into individual orders. Before, this may have involved a person going back and forth one order at a time to grab the appropriate shirt.
Following completion of their new facility in September of 2021, the integrated automation solution went live in November—a very quick 12-week deployment with several novel solutions and features built from the ground up and integrated using the SOFTBOT Platform.
Thrive Screen Printing experienced benefits immediately following deployment. Prior to automation, the company relied upon a handful of employees to fulfill about 135 units every hour, with a 5% error rate.
Since going live via the SOFTBOT Platform, they’ve had an increase in throughput of 48%, while order picking errors have dropped from 5% to 0%. “We were able to lower the number of people we have to train, lower the error rate, lower our payroll, and it’s happening faster. So, it’s a win on all fronts,” said Robert Fisher, CFO of Fisher Family Holdings, the parent company of Thrive Screen Printing.
The SOFTBOT Platform has allowed Thrive to integrate disparate technologies quickly, as well as provide easy-to-use features to manage the entire workflow. With the help and guidance of experts from SVT Robotics, they were able to actualize the potential in their facility and prepare themselves to scale with their growing ecommerce business.