Streamlining Returns Process in Hobart's Piqua, Ohio Facility

Indiana Facility Returns Area
Processing returned items has become more of a main stage process due to increasing returns by customers.


The returns department at a Hobart facility in Piqua, OH receives approximately 250 packages from UPS each morning.  Each day operations would have to shut down many other departments to bring people over to help unload and sort the packages.  This process entailed loading various size packages onto push carts and manually moving the carts to open areas of the warehouse.  Other operators would manually check the units in.  This process was very time consuming and often chaotic.

We discussed this process with Industrial Engineering and Automated material handling specialists.  We reviewed multiple options for accumulation and sortation.  Based on the number of returns we receive each day and the various box sizes, we needed approximately 250 feet of conveyor to hold all the returns of one day.

Our objectives were simple.  First, we wanted a stream lined process for one person to unload the truck.  Second, we wanted our receiving person to work in one location as the packages flowed by them.  Third, to have all of our inspectors and packers in a set location to easily process the returns, inspect, and send the item back to stock.

One complication was the requirement for egress, access to aisles, racking, and offices.  The final design fully utilized the space given, allowed for easy work flow, and would not hinder any activities by other departments.  To put the project back in line with our budget, we limited some of the functionality while giving options for later growth.

Once the design and investment were approved and the system was ordered, the selected vendor (Conveyor Solutions) continued to always keep us in the loop by sending status reports each week.  Their project management kept us updated on delivery, installation expectations, and reminders for any information they would need from us. 

The Installation was relatively seamless.  The technicians showed up and were courteous to our needs and worked with us to allow us to remain working.  The complete install took about 4 days and we were up and running.  There was some fine tuning necessary, but overall, the system did exactly what we needed it to and exactly what Conveyor Solutions said it would do.

by Ryan Carmen, Conveyor Solutions Application Engineer,

As seen in Modern Materials Handling 2021 Casebook & Buyer's Guide: CLICK HERE