Automation software technology for business
#Currency Management

Robotic automation: a game changer for cash processing

Technical Innovation
7 Mins.

The long-term vision to extend advanced automation beyond high-volume cash centers to mid-size centers is fast becoming a reality. We explore the cutting-edge innovations that are set to transform the economics of banknote processing with a leap in speed, productivity, and efficiency.

The range of use cases for robotic automation is growing day by day as the cost of robot technology comes down and the sophistication and intelligence of systems rises. Just consider two very different examples in industrial settings where manual processes have traditionally dominated: Deutsche Post DHL, with its huge international logistics challenges, and Evergreen, one of the US’s largest plastics recyclers.

To support its operations at key logistics hubs, DHL Supply Chain has deployed teams of smart robots to pick and sort loose packages of different dimensions as precisely and carefully as any human. Its vast warehouses already buzz with the sound of thousands of robots taking the legwork out of order fulfillment. And the company predicts that completely autonomous robots will soon be deployed to carry out tasks as complex as unloading trailers and stacking random sizes of boxes.1, 2

A contrasting example, in both scale and focus, is plastics reclaimer Evergreen. It is using AI-powered, camera-guided robots to rapidly sort different types of plastic bottles as they pass along a conveyor, grading them by their material composition, color, and opacity. The plastic pellets and flakes that emerge from the process are then sent for recycling into new containers and packaging.3

The combination of robotics and AI is turning up in many less obvious settings, from agriculture robots that can plant, weed, and harvest, to robots designed to clean up pollution from oceans and lakes. Yet in the critical area of cash processing, automation hasn’t been applied throughout the cash cycle – at least until now, with G+D taking the lead to develop solutions for cash cycle players of all sizes.

Extending the reach of cash center robots

With its strong commitment to innovation, G+D has been a long-standing pioneer of automation and robotics technologies.

High-volume cash centers were the first to embrace robotic automation. In this initial wave, the setup has typically involved major investment, as the unique processes targeted for automation need to be carefully analyzed, mapped, and adapted.

For organizations with large daily cash volumes, such as central banks, that level of investment can be justified, especially as it also helps to make the cash cycle more resilient. By providing highly customized solutions, G+D already serves numerous large-scale cash-cycle players around the world with its automation – and, increasingly, robotics – technologies.

“The handling of banknotes in mid-sized cash centers presents a different set of challenges to those found in high-volume environments. But G+D is able to leverage its deep experience and understanding of cash processing environments to tackle such challenges.“
Dr. Richard Neuhauser
Director Product Innovation, Giesecke+Devrient Currency Technology

One standout example is Bank Central Asia (BCA), the largest commercial bank in Indonesia. In partnership with G+D, it has created a state-of-the-art cash processing center where the application of automation technology, including robotics, has transformed the majority of its traditionally manual tasks. The cash hub has been heralded by BCA as “the first fully automated cash center for commercial banking in the world."

Another example of the use of robotics in high-volume cash processing involves a central bank where G+D has delivered a solution to handle its “second-level packaging.”

Display of machines

As shrink-wrapped bundles of banknotes come into the robotic cell from the banks’ G+D BPS® M7 processing system, a robot arm positions them for consolidation into cash packs of four bundles. The robot can work with any of the five denominations that are processed in the cash center. Each cash pack is then taken by a second robot to be band strapped and labeled before the pack is finally dropped onto a conveyor for subsequent handling in the cash room. Throughout the entire process, serial numbers for all processed banknotes are captured and tracked by the BPS® M7 system.

The solution provides much higher transparency and security, as well as greater efficiency. It standardizes the inventory for the central bank as it receives new banknotes in the same cash pack configuration, along with their serial numbers. Knowing this information is a starting point for closing the information loop of the banknote life cycle, from creation to destruction.

Drawing on its established experience at the high end, G+D is now driving innovation for players at all levels in the cash sector. Its vision to deliver robotic automation to mid-sized cash centers is fast becoming a reality as affordability brings the technology within reach through the creation of standardized, “off-the-shelf” modules. And in the future such ambitions may even extend to small cash centers.

Drivers of change in the cash cycle

Automation is not an end in itself, of course. There are multiple drivers that are increasing the need for greater efficiency, flexibility, and security in the cash cycle.

Demand for cash continues to grow worldwide,4 but the mix of transactional and non-transactional cash is not a constant. As a result, cash centers need to be able to adapt to periods when processing volumes are higher by ensuring they have sufficient equipment and capabilities in place. At the same time, when cash processing volumes are lower, they face operational challenges to reduce the cost of managing cash.

Staff shortages are also encouraging investment in robotic automation at mid-sized centers. Today, many cash centers struggle to find the personnel they need – in the right quantities and with the right skills – especially in the higher-wage economies of the US, Western Europe, and some Asian countries. While cash centers will ultimately require fewer staff as a result of robotic automation, existing roles are likely to require an enhanced skill set.

The need to ensure greater security around cash handling is also important. Automation can help to minimize risks by reducing the number of “hands on cash.” Indeed, many tasks currently require the application of the “four-eyes principle,” where two individuals have to oversee certain cash-handling tasks where there is the possibility of a security violation. By turning those tasks over to robotic processing, that security threat is lowered significantly.

Display of machines

Processes ripe for automation

There are multiple relevant use cases where automation and robotics can be implemented to control critical processes and securing business operations.

In at least three labor-intensive areas of cash processing, automation will be a game changer – especially for cash centers dealing with multiple banknote denominations:

  • Banding: the automated banding of all banknotes after they have been processed
  • Loading: the continuous loading of banknotes in the singler (which pulls individual banknotes out of a stack)
  • Tray filling: the automated filling of loose notes into NotaTrays, which are themselves designed for automation.

Those key areas of automation are designed to relieve the bottlenecks associated with manual interventions and ensure processing capacity is faster, more consistent, and efficient.

For large cash centers, these use cases are covered by automation solutions integrated into BPS® M systems. Automated banding is already standard in large cash centers; automated loading via the NotaTray® Loading module is becoming increasingly popular; and the filling of loose notes into NotaTrays is gaining ground as a solution.

When it comes to mid-sized cash centers, such automation solutions are desperately needed and will be based on advanced robotics.

Today, banknote throughput is typically limited by the capability and capacity of a machine’s operator. For instance, the time taken for the manual banding of notes can set the overall pace of the complete process. The proficiency of different operators is also a factor, as it creates additional variations in that throughput.

But it is not just a question of throughput. In today’s setups, an operator needs to be continuously in attendance at a processing machine to load and empty it and do the first banding. So, the more functions that can be fulfilled by automation, the more operators will be freed up for more sophisticated tasks. Robotic automation in cash centers is thus transforming the operator’s role into that of a supervisor with wider process responsibilities.

With automation, the operator can focus on other aspects relevant to performance such as bander paper changes, jam resolution, reject reconciliation, and tray handling, which require only occasional intervention.

G+D: taking up the automation challenge

Display of machines

As the leader in scalable cash cycle solutions, G+D is continuously exploring innovations that help to transition the cash industry to new levels of automation, bringing greater efficiency, productivity, and security to cash processing. This transition also helps to create a greener and more sustainable cash cycle. For example, automation can lead to a reduction in the use of plastics and banding paper.

Working with key customers, the company is preparing to roll out a series of robotic automation solutions specifically designed for mid-sized cash centers.

The BPS® C5 – which already fulfills the currency processing requirements for many small and medium-sized cash centers with outstanding efficiency, flexibility, and ease-of-use – is ideally suited to work with complementary modules such as robotic cells.

Trials are already underway at a major service provider, where the BPS® C5 system is incorporated into a robotic cell that provides automated banding functionality. Such a capability will enable cash centers that handle multiple denominations of banknotes to dramatically improve their processing efficiency.

Today, the BPS® C5 system provides a very high nominal throughput of 63,000 banknotes per hour. However, in reality, a single operator typically achieves 30–40% of that throughput when working with the systems manually. In particular, the time taken for manual banding sets the overall pace, as the machine has to be halted when the operator cannot keep up with its processing speed. Handing over banknote banding to a robotic unit will have a dramatically positive impact on throughput and productivity.

“Our goal is to reshape the wider cash industry around automation – to make high levels of robotic automation a standard part of cash processing for mid-sized cash centers and perhaps even for smaller cash centers too.“
Carmine Grabandt
Business Development Director Giesecke+Devrient Currency Technology

Banding is just the first wave of a wider automation road map. G+D plans to follow that introduction with associated modules for continuous loading / reject handling and tray filling. This will change the end-to-end processes both within cash centers and beyond: G+D’s NotaTray® Ecosystem, for example, has the potential to optimize the overall costs in the cash cycle by streamlining handover and logistics processes, as well as related data management.

Moreover, the BPS® C5 solution is designed not just for mid-size organizations: it will also be a complementary automated solution for use alongside G+D’s high-volume banknote processing systems at large cash centers.

Robotic automation has clearly ushered in a process revolution in many sectors in recent years. And its introduction as a standardized solution is now destined to bring intelligent automation to key areas of operations within a growing number of cash centers.

Key takeaways

  • Digitally driven automation has been a game changer in almost every industry. Now G+D is bringing the benefits of advanced productivity, efficiency, and security to mid-sized cash centers.
  • Until now, there have been no standardized robotic automation for banknote processing systems that can be deployed by medium-sized centers.
  • Automated banknote banding, loading / reject handling, and tray filling will help to relieve manual processing bottlenecks in mid-sized centers and speed up banknote throughput significantly.
  1. Diese Maschinen können selber denken, Welt, 2022

  2. Inside DHL’s robotics ecosystem, The Robot Report, 2022

  3. Evergreen case study, AMP Robotics, 2023

  4. On the stabilizing role of cash for societies, Goethe University Frankfurt, 2022 (PDF)

Published: 11/01/2024

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