The novel coronavirus crisis has increased demand for flexibility and efficiency in manufacturing and supply chain operations. Earlier this year, Nike Inc. worked with Geekplus Technology Co. on a productivity project that led to a new consulting service announced this past month.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges with labor retention and e-commerce order fulfillment, according to the companies. Quarantines, social distancing, and the shift from in-store to online demand led Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike to turn to Bejing-based Geek+.
Geek+ is a 2020 RBR50 innovation award winner and said it is the world’s largest provider of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) as a service, with more than 300 customers and 10,000 robots worldwide.
Challenge at Nike
In February, Geek+ helped Nike launch same-day delivery in Japan by deploying more than 200 robots. Most warehouses in the world still rely on manual operations, and Nike hoped to transform its logistics operations.
In March, Geek+ conducted an in-depth analysis of a customer site in Japan and assigned a consultant to manage an on-site analysis-proposal-execution-verification sequence. It found that the sportswear maker had numerous SKUs (stock-keeping units) and large fluctuations in order volume, which added complexity to its operations.
Case study at a glance
|Company: Nike Inc.|
|Industry: Retail, supply chain|
|Challenge: Keeping up with same-day delivery|
|Robot: 200 P-series AMRs|
|Robotics supplier: Geekplus Technology Co.|
|Task: Goods-to-person picking|
|Value driver: Throughput|
|Results: 18x increase in productivity and new consulting service|
Solution includes AI
Geek+ said its goods-to-person picking system uses proprietary algorithms and P-series warehouse robots to eliminate redundant walking by human warehouse workers. The company added that its system is intended to improve picking accuracy and reduce labor intensity.
The system uses artificial intelligence for robot task management, combined order optimization and picking, and inventory management. Geek+ also claimed that its AI can help manage inventory, do dynamic wave optimization, and adjust inventory layouts for maximum efficiency.
By adjusting the algorithms directing its robots, Geek+ said it was able to help Nike streamline its warehouse operations and improve productivity by 18 times.
Results lead to consulting service
“As manufacturers of robotics solutions with a proven track record and in-depth industry understanding, we’re committed to providing tailored solutions that optimize operations on customer sites,” stated Tomohiro Sato, president of Geek+’s Japan office. “We see the project with Nike as a success, taking smart robotics solutions to a new level of customization, and [we] are happy to announce that we will be making the service available to retailers and logistics players across Japan.”
Geek+ said its new consulting service is intended to help customers further improve the productivity of their ongoing operations and maximize the value of their mobile robot investments.
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