Image-based barcode reading technology automates DVD return process


One of the most expensive processes at Netflix was the handling of DVD returns. Huge resources were tied up in manually opening mailers, taking out the sleeved discs, checking the titles on the DVDs against the sleeves, checking the discs for physical defects, cleaning them and scanning them into the system. To improve production quality and reduce labor costs, Netflix asked several of the world’s leading automation companies to propose solutions for their customer returns process. Seven companies were invited to tender, of which two were selected to develop and build a prototype, competing head-to-head in a four week performance trial taking place in California.

Bronway Automation, a specialist automation solutions provider based in County Wicklow, Ireland, was one of the two companies selected to build a prototype for the trial. They designed, developed and installed their ARRM3600 (Automated Rental Return Machine) prototype in a Netflix distribution hub in California. Following an intensive trial period set within a live production environment, Bronway achieved superior performance results and were awarded the contract to supply 180 production units.

The ARRM3600 units were supplied directly to 42 Netflix distribution centers across the US. The delivery and installation schedule was challenging with a commitment to deliver six machines per week, each consisting of over 6,500 components, all of which needed to be rigorously tested and validated prior to installation. Despite these tight deadlines, all installations were completed on schedule. Bronway completed the entire manufacturing program without missing a single Netflix “go live” date.