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Berkshire Grey tackles e-commerce inefficiency with robotic put wall

Warehouse automation company also announces global availability of its pick-and-pack solutions

Berkshire Grey has introduced a robotic shuttle put wall that it said will dramatically increase the capacity of warehouse operators to process e-commerce orders. (Photo: Berkshire Grey)

Warehouse automation provider Berkshire Grey has unveiled an artificial-intelligence-enabled “robotic shuttle put wall” (RSPW) for e-commerce operations. The company also announced that its pick-and-pack solutions are now available globally.

The put wall is an automated solution that can handle as much 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 that is 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.

“E-commerce continues to grow and surge. Our automation enables retailers to increase capacity to meet the growing demand and helps to deliver efficient revenue growth,” said Tom Wagner, founder and CEO at Berkshire Grey (NASDAQ: BGRY). “Berkshire Grey’s AI-enabled Robotic Shuttle Put Wall is built on proven technology deployed by customers today. This new platform increases order processing speeds, optimizes the fulfillment workforce and most importantly gets more orders out the door more quickly.”

E-commerce fulfillment is three times more labor-intensive compared to standard logistics operations, according to a 2020 report from real estate investment trust Prologis Inc. (NYSE: PLD). In addition, the firm found that online sales are twice as volatile as brick-and-mortar retail sales. Typically, one employee per 1,000 square feet of warehouse space is needed for logistics operations, but e-commerce operations require as many as three employees on average to work the same amount of space. 

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Berkshire Grey’s RSPW is designed to offer the flexibility needed to meet e-commerce fulfillment demand without the need to add additional employees. The system can handle nearly 100% of typical stock keeping units, including soft polybags and cylinders and tubes, the company said. Additional benefits include:

  • Increase customer order sortation throughput by up to 300% with the solution’s high-capacity put wall.
  • Integrate with existing fulfillment processes with no disruption to ongoing operations.
  • Improve upstream batch inventory pick rates by up to 33%.
  • Support the needs of 24/7 order fulfillment.
  • Provide maximum flexibility by integrating with any existing operation, including robotic, conveyer and manual-based transport approaches.

Last week, Berkshire Grey announced 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. The solution also features:

  • Zero-pressure placement, ensuring even multiple delicate items can fit safely into a single package without dropping or over-cramming items.
  • Advanced machine vision and proprietary real-time planning algorithms to manipulate individual items for placement on the fly, achieving a tight, safe fit within each shipping box.
  • Autonomous dense packing, which leaves less air in each box and reduces the packing materials needed, thereby lowering both the shipping costs and environmental impact of e-commerce orders.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at [email protected].