While many warehouses and distribution centers have yet to add robots, the demand for flexible throughput has accelerated adoption. Locus Robotics today announced that its autonomous mobile robots, or AMRs, have been involved in the picking of more than 200 million units. The Wilmington, Mass.-based company noted that it passed this milestone before the peak shopping and shipping season around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
“We are thrilled to have reached the 200 million units picked milestone,” stated Rick Faulk, CEO of Locus Robotics. “As more and more shoppers move online, and as we quickly approach what is expected to be the biggest — and most challenging — holiday retail season yet, retailers are turning to AMRs to innovate to meet growing demand and avoid risking losing valuable customers.”
Locus said its multi-robot system can collaborate with human workers and improve piece-handling productivity by two to three times, with less labor than traditional picking systems. The company was a 2020 RBR50 innovation award winner, marking its fifth year in a row on the list. In June, Locus raised $40 million in Series D funding to continue its global expansion.
Pharmaceutical pick sets autonomous mobile robot record
According to Locus Robotics, its 200 millionth pick occurred at a Boots UK warehouse facility, and the item picked was a Cuticura Original Anti-Bacterial Hand Gel. Boots UK is a leading health and beauty retailer and pharmacy chain in the U.K., part of the Retail Pharmacy International Division of the Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc.
“The flexibility of the Locus system to scale as the demand grows has been key to our success,” said Ken Hall, supply chain development manager at Boots UK. “The autonomous nature of the LocusBots has also been instrumental in worker health and safety, enforcing social distancing through such a busy period while also delivering significant productivity improvement.”
Omnichannel retail transformation
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the retail industry, making online and omnichannel purchasing the new standard worldwide, said Locus. The explosion of online shopping has put increasing pressure on supply chains to adequately staff their fulfillment teams to meet the growing number of orders and ensure that items are picked and packed as efficiently as possible. These trends will continue as the 2020 holiday shopping season approaches, the company said.
According to recent reports from Adobe, Cyber Monday sales are expected to hit a record-breaking $9.4 billion, up almost 19% from last year, and Black Friday sales online are expected to be $7.5 billion, up 20.3%.
Locus Robotics said its mobile robots and software can enable brands, retailers, and third-party logistics (3PL) operators to meet increasing consumer demand for e-commerce, retail, omnichannel, and manufacturing order fulfillment. Its customers worldwide include CEVA, DHL, GEODIS, Port Logistics Group, Verst Logistics, and Radial.