Deploy a Robotics-Driven Fulfillment Solution to Reach Peak Productivity
Q: 3PLs and retailers are planning for volume surges ahead of peak season. What is driving this?
A: This peak season, as consumers regain financial confidence, e-commerce is expected to exceed a level of volume that exacerbated the supply chain the previous year. Warehouses are already experiencing painful labor challenges including high turnover and shortages that affect throughput. Labor reports show these challenges will continue throughout the upcoming peak season and stunt productivity at warehouses across the country. Forward-thinking 3PLs and retailers are making moves now to digitize their operations and prepare for possibly their best peak season yet.
Q: What is the average time necessary to plan and deploy a robotics-driven fulfillment solution?
A: Every business team has its own requirements for making the decision to automate. From our experience, though, it doesn’t have to be an arduous process. We have incredible operation design engineers that create a business case for the integration, implementation, and deployment of a multi-bot solution at a facility. Ideally there is a 1- to 3-month planning phase before signing the contract.
We’re looking at a 4- to 12-week deployment depending on certain factors. So 3PLs and retailers looking to go-live before peak should have agreements signed by early September. After that, the entire process goes smoothly. Evo, an e-commerce retailer, signed a contract with us to bring the Locus solution into their fulfillment facility and were up-and-running in just 53 days. The best way to get started is to reach out to us sooner rather than later so we can help create the business case that brings the automation plan across the finish line.
Q: How does a robot automation solution increase fulfillment during peak volume spikes?
A: Traditional picking involves workers pulling carts around a fulfillment site between pick locations. A multi-bot solution separates the cart from the worker by assigning workers to a zone while a fleet of robots travel between pick locations; this allows the associate to walk less and pick more.
Locus technology optimizes tasks using proprietary algorithms to determine the most efficient mix and release of work for robot missions. This minimizes the distance traveled by the robot, which in turn speeds up cycle times when volumes spike.
Locus’s Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS) model offers considerable flexibility as volumes and workflows change. When peak occurs, management can choose to meet surging demand by renting more robots rather than find, hire, and train temporary labor.
Embedded AI and machine learning allow additional robots to be up and running almost instantaneously—no extensive reconfiguration or complicated setup. RaaS gives operators the flexibility to quickly scale up to meet peak demand by allowing them to rent more bots when they need them and send them back when volume returns to normal.