The sudden spike in e-commerce sales, up over 32% in 2020 according to eMarketer, has pressured warehouse and fulfillment operations to fill orders – one item at a time. Add in a shortage of warehouse capacity and workers and the crunch is on to create more efficiency and to do so in a hurry.
Logistics real estate trust Prologis Inc. (NYSE: PLD) said the logistics real estate sector continues to face issues in finding skilled labor and desirable locations for new facilities. In a series of reports in 2020, it also noted that parcel companies have increasingly turned away packages as last-mile delivery capacity rapidly shrinks.
A November report from Prologis found that e-commerce is three times as labor intensive as other logistics operations, and absenteeism during the pandemic increased. The report said a rapid increase in the adoption of warehouse automation could alleviate some of these issues.
Scallog, a French company that designs and markets logistics robotics solutions, is hoping the time is right to launch its goods-to-person robotics solutions in the U.S. The company has teamed up with Bastian Solutions, a Toyota Advanced Logistics company, to offer the products.
“This collaboration illustrates a change in scale in our strategy of international expansion, in line with our ambitions for deployment and commercial presence in key markets,” Olivier Rochet, CEO of Scallog, said. “The United States represents a new El Dorado for logistics robotics, where our value proposition for the automation of order picking has everything required to meet the growing demand for efficiency, agility and resilience in American warehouses.”
Scallog’s automated solutions include the Flexypick, Flexytote and mobile robots.
Flexypick is a “goods-to-person” storage system that utilizes autonomous Boby robots and mobile shelves to bring products to operators for picking, rather than having the operators walk around a warehouse in search of goods.
Flexytote is an automated tote system. The Boby robot lifts the empty totes and moves them to order buffer racks for picking. Once the totes are filled by the operator, Boby moves the tote to the packing area.
Boby has a maximum payload of 1,322 pounds and can move at speeds of up to 3.35 miles per hour. It can handle 600 picks per hour per picker, generating a productivity gain of 40%, Scallog said.
Bastian offers supply chain solutions to its clients, including material handling systems and software.
Citing a DHL survey that found only 5% of North American warehouses are fully automated, and just 15% are even semiautomated, Scallog thinks its partnership with Bastian can help it crack open the market.
“We are delighted to be associated with a recognized intralogistics expert such as Bastian Solutions, which represents the ideal American partner inasmuch as our offerings, expertise, services and values complement each other so well,” Rochet said. “Bastian Solutions’ position, experience and in-depth knowledge of automation will accelerate the bringing to market, adoption and development of our vertical robotics solutions for the warehouses of the future in the USA — connected, digitalized and robotized.”
Bastian will offer Scallog’s robotized order picking solutions, which are said to be scalable and upgradable with a return on investment of under two years.
Bastian Solutions ranks among the world’s top 20 suppliers of logistics automation solutions and employs 1,000 people in 20 national offices with subsidiaries in Canada, Brazil, Mexico and India.
“We must continuously add technologies that address the growing demand and changing landscape order fulfillment providers face,” Marvin Logan, vice president of consulting and integration at Bastian, said. “Scallog’s technology will help us continue providing our customers with the competitive advantage they need to stay ahead in today’s market. We’re looking forward to introducing Scallog to our global network of clients.”