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Turning warehouse automation into trucking capacity

Geek+, WSR Solutions say mixed-pallet solution increases available space on trucks, speeds picking and loading

Warehouse robotics firm Geek+, and warehouse technology provider WSR Solutions say their combined solution for mixed-pallet picking and loading can increase truck capacity by as much as 30%. (Photo: Geek+)

Fast-growing warehouse robotics firm Geek+ is adding another weapon to its portfolio of automation solutions designed to improve warehouse efficiencies, lower costs and increase throughput speed.

The Smart Mixed Case palletizing solution, co-developed with warehouse management tools provider WSR Solutions, combines Geek+’s autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) and WSR’s intelligent palletizing algorithm to more efficiently collect and pack multiple outbound orders on a single pallet. The result is a 30% reduction in required truck space and a 40% reduction in operational costs, the companies said.

“We are thrilled to work together with WSR Solutions to provide a tool that targets every aspect of the outbound logistics process, from how goods are stored and moved around the warehouse to how pallets are stacked, streamlining processes by eliminating the need for re-palletization, and optimizing overall space utilization,” said Lit Fung, vice president of APAC, UK and the Americas at Geek+.

Watch: The Geek+ Smart Mixed Case palletizing solution in action

The solution features four key components, each designed to improve throughput and packing efficiency. Based on real-time demand, Geek+ AMRs optimize the movement of ordered goods between the storage area and picking station. At the picking station, WSR’s algorithm helps warehouse operators optimally stack cases of varying weight, height and width.

“Together with Geek+ we provide a full framework for the changing market requirements. Innovative mixed palletizing solutions that in effect serve one single goal: to optimize the customer’s supply chain with efficient, flexible and affordable automation solutions,” said Marcel van Schijndel, CEO of WSR Solutions.

The combined solution employs a storage area, buffer area, case picking area and loading area. It works in this fashion:

  • In the storage area, pallets of incoming goods are stored in high-density racking. They are then moved horizontally on four-way shuttles and vertically by lifts. The number of shuttles can be adjusted to handle changes in required throughput.  
  • Upon receipt of an outbound order, items of high volume go to a buffer area (brought there by a robot) where a picking robot streamlines the sequencing of source pallets to speed the picking process.
  • At the case picking area workstation, an operator picks the cases from the donor pallets, stacking them on an outbound pallet based on a pre-calculated stacking pattern. The interface provides the operator with key information, including quantities, and a laser pointer specifies case placement. When a donor pallet is needed at additional workstations, the AMRs move it to the next station as a new pallet is brought to the previous picking area for continued packing.
  • The loading area features autonomous forklifts that load the pallets onto trucks in an optimally stacked way to maximize truck space.

Read: Geek+ surpasses 20,000 autonomous robots

Read: Warehouse robotics company Geek+ raises $200 million

The WSR algorithm enables efficient organization and order sequencing of large-scale, mixed-case combinations, the companies said. It can be customized to fit customers’ business needs for allocation and priority management.

In July, Geek+ announced it had sold 20,000 robots around the globe. The Beijing-based company has automated warehouses for companies such as Circle K, Walmart, Nike, Decathlon and more in the past two years. It opened U.S. offices in February 2020 and now operates in 30 countries.

In June 2020, the automation company announced the closing of a $200 million Series C investment round led by GGV Capital, D1 Capital Partners and Warburg Pincus. Total funding in the company is $439.4 million across six rounds, according to Crunchbase.

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Brian Straight.

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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]