News Column

Patent Issued for Method, Apparatus, and Computer Program Product for Optimization of Item Location in an Automated Storage System

July 3, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Computer Weekly News -- According to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews journalists, a patent by the inventor Miller, George Brad (Bellevue, PA), filed on March 30, 2012, was published online on June 17, 2014.

The assignee for this patent, patent number 8755930, is Aesynt Incorporated (Cranberry, PA).

Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Automated storage systems are often used to store quantities of items and to present the items to a user for retrieval proximate an accessible loading/unloading point. Storage systems may include a carousel including a plurality of shelves, each shelf including a plurality of bins, where each bin may include one or more types of articles stored therein. Depending upon the size of the articles and the size of the bins, a plurality of each of the one or more types of articles may be stored in each bin for retrieval by a user. Automated storage systems may include a user interface in which a user may enter an article request or order by some identifying indicia (e.g., by name, identification number, etc.) and the automated storage system may advance the carousel to present the bin containing the article, or shelf containing the bin, to the user. The user may be directed to the appropriate bin through a display which identifies the location graphically or by alphanumeric indicator and to the appropriate article through a graphical or alphanumeric identifier.

"In such automated storage systems, retrieval time for each article may depend upon how far the carousel must rotate or move between shelves or the 'rotation time.' The speed of the carousel may be limited as the articles contained in the bins may be adversely affected by sudden movement or by frequent start/stop cycles at faster speeds. Further, the bin locations and contents may be undesirably shifted by higher carousel speeds. Thus, the distance the carousel must move between shelves may impart a significant time-delay in the retrieval of articles that are located further apart from one another (i.e., separated by a number of shelves)."

In addition to obtaining background information on this patent, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent: "Embodiments of the present invention generally relate to a method, apparatus, and computer program product for optimizing article or bin location in an automated storage device to increase the efficiency of article retrieval in filling an order. Methods of example embodiments may determine a number of touches of each of a plurality of bins of a storage system, where the touches are calculated over a predetermined period of time; identify a bin with more touches than a bin at a first location, where the bin with more touches is at a second location; and direct the bin with more touches than the bin at the first location to be swapped with the bin at the first location. Identifying a bin with more touches may include identifying a bin with a number of touches that exceeds the number of touches of the bin in the first location by a predetermined amount.

"Methods of example embodiments may include where, upon directing the bin from the first location to be swapped with the bin in the second location, precluding the bin from the first location from being moved again. The storage system may include bins of multiple sizes and identifying a bin with more touches than a bin at a first location may include identifying a bin with more touches of the same size as the bin at the first location. The storage system may include a plurality of shelves, and each shelf may include a plurality of bins. Identifying a bin with more touches than a bin at a first location may include identifying a bin with more touches on a shelf different from that of the bin at the first location. Methods of example embodiments may increase the likelihood that a picked article will be within three shelves of a next-picked article in response to swapping the bin at the first location with the bin at the second location. A touch may include an instance of a user accessing a bin.

"Embodiments of the present invention may include a computer program product which includes at least one non-transitory computer-readable storage medium having computer-executable program code instructions stored therein, the computer-executable program code instructions including program code instructions for determining a number of touches each of a plurality of bins of a storage system has experienced over a predetermined time period, program code instructions for identifying a bin with more touches than a bin at a first location, where the bin with more touches is at a second location, and program code instructions to direct the bin with more touches than the bin at the first location to be swapped with the bin at the first location. The program code instructions for identifying a bin with more touches may include program code instructions for identifying a bin with a number of touches that exceeds the number of touches of the bin in the first location by a predetermined amount.

"Computer program products according to example embodiments may further include where the program code instructions for directing the bin with more touches than the bin at the first location to be swapped with the bin at the first location includes program code instructions to preclude the bin from the first location from being moved again. The storage system may include bins of multiple sizes and the program code instructions for identifying a bin with more touches than a bin at a first location may include program code instructions for identifying a bin of the same size with more touches as the bin at the first location. The storage system may include a plurality of shelves, and each shelf may include a plurality of bins. The program code instructions for identifying a bin with more touches than a bin at the first location may include program code instructions for identifying a bin with more touches on a shelf different from that of the bin at the first location. Computer program products of example embodiments may further include program code instructions for increasing the likelihood that the picked article will be within three shelves of a next-picked article in response to swapping the bin at the first location with the bin at the second location.

"Embodiments of the present invention may provide an apparatus including processing circuitry configured to cause the apparatus to determine a number of touches each of a plurality of bins of a storage system has experienced over a predetermined time period, identify a bin with more touches than a bin at a first location, where the bin with more touches is as at a second location, and direct the bin with more touches than the bin at the first location to be swapped with the bin at the first location. Identifying a bin with more touches may include identifying a bin with a number of touches that exceeds the number of touches of the bin in the first location by a predetermined amount. Upon directing the bin with more touches than the bin at the first location to be swapped with the bin at the first location, the processing circuitry may be configured to preclude the bin from the first location from being moved again. The storage system may include bins of multiple sizes and identifying a bin with more touches than a bin at a first location may include identifying a bin of the same size with more touches than the bin at the first location. The storage system may include a plurality of shelves and each shelf may include a plurality of bins. Identifying a bin with more touches than a bin at a first location may include identifying a bin with more touches on a shelf different from that of the bin at the first location."

For more information, see this patent: Miller, George Brad. Method, Apparatus, and Computer Program Product for Optimization of Item Location in an Automated Storage System. U.S. Patent Number 8755930, filed March 30, 2012, and published online on June 17, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=8755930.PN.&OS=PN/8755930RS=PN/8755930

Keywords for this news article include: Aesynt Incorporated.

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Source: Computer Weekly News


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