While e-commerce continues to grow, retailers are developing solutions that integrate the online and physical worlds of retail, and that increasingly means fulfilling online orders with in-store inventory.
Operating in the modern retail environment is placing additional strain on distribution centers that must fulfill large in-store inventory orders but also low-count orders to meet e-commerce demands. Automation is helping drive change in fulfillment centers.
“Our AI-powered Robotic Shuttle Product Sortation (RSPS) solution enables the merchandising practices that drive retail growth while improving operating models in distribution centers – even in a time of labor scarcity,” said Tom Wagner, CEO at Berkshire Grey.
The RSPS solution is designed to support the filling of e-commerce orders through stores and in-person shopping by automating store replenishment, split-case cross docking and allocation order processing, the company said. It is now widely available for retailers.
The solution allows containers of goods to be sorted and conveyed to the operator workstation where the operator is directed by a user interface to take the specific number of items and place them to the left or right, where they are deposited into the proper hopper for inclusion in the correct order box or tote. Once full, the box or tote is conveyed out for shipping.
Like other Berkshire Grey (NASDAQ: BGRY) robotic solutions, RSPS is modular and available via robotics-as-a-service implementation models that allow customers to incorporate automation without upfront capital expenditures.
RSPS utilizes AI to enable distribution centers to improve order processing at existing facilities using current workforces. It is available as an upgrade to any put-to-light operation and can improve piece pick order fulfillment by up to four times without adding additional labor, the company said.
Berkshire Grey also cited the following benefits of RSPS:
- Improve shipment capacity and container cube utilization by up to 10%.
- Handle nearly 100% of typical SKU assortments.
- Operate stand-alone or integrated with traditional material handling systems like automated storage and retrieval systems.
- Install into existing operations with a small footprint of less than 2,500 square feet.
- Support configurable order container sizes and batches.
Just last month, Berkshire Grey announced its robotic shuttle put wall. The put wall is an automated solution that can handle as many as 240 orders at a time in a single wall, up from an average of 80 orders manual walls can handle, the company said.
A put wall is a shelving system outfitted with lighting that indicates when an order is complete. Each slot in the wall can accept a tote that represents an e-commerce customer order. Typically, workers or robots place items in the totes or slots from one side of the wall, and on the other side, workers or robots remove the items/totes for packing.
The company also announced in September that its robotic pick-and-pack (RPP) solutions are now available globally. The RPP is designed to integrate with e-commerce operations run by retailers, third-party logistics providers and pure-play e-commerce brands. The RPP autonomously picks and packs consumer orders while emphasizing protection of the items to minimize returns and reduce damage costs.