Hilltop Bottle & Can Return is a redemption center owned and operated by The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming Counties. The business is unique in that it helps people with intellectual/developmental disabilities find success in employment.
The team at The Arc was looking to improve Hilltop Bottle’s overall productivity and efficiency.
The organization applied to FuzeHub for an Innovation Challenge Award and won $5,900. It partnered with a team of engineering students from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), who learned the operation, performed time studies and evaluated the physical setup of the redemption facility to determine which areas needed to be prioritized for improvement. The students recommended electronic counters, as every container was counted manually which was a large labor cost depending on operator speeds. They also blueprinted a more efficient setup — which reduced travel time within the facility — and assigned wheeled carts within each workstation for easy movement. The prize money helped cover the cost of the electronics and wiring to install counters at each box throughout seven workstations. Hilltop also built frames around all of its sorting boxes.
The project enabled Hilltop to retain its workers. More importantly, it created a much more productive shift for every employee. The overall processing of containers essentially went from a four-step process to a two-step process. With the new setup, employees were able to increase sort speed by close to 50% depending on the worker.