Fetch Robotics Inc. today said it has partnered with VARGO to integrate its autonomous mobile robots with VARGO’s warehouse execution system. The companies said the combined technologies will enable distribution centers to optimize order fulfillment with the latest technology in real time.
San Jose, Calif.-based Fetch Robotics was a 2020 RBR50 innovation award winner, receiving recognition for the fifth year in a row. The autonomous mobile robot (AMR) provider said its Fetch Cloud Robotics Platform provides on-demand automation for materials handling and inventory management, enabling users to find, track, and move almost anything in any facility.
For nearly five decades, Hillard, Ohio-based VARGO has worked with manufacturers, distributors, and leading retailers to improve their e-commerce operations and material handling systems, increase processing capacities, and reduce order cycle times. The company integrates robotics and automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) into its systems for fulfillment centers. Its customers include American Eagle, Gap, Fashion Nova, Forever21 and numerous third-party logistics providers (3PLs).
VARGO COFE helps meet accelerating demand
The growth of e-commerce and omnichannel fulfillment has pushed companies to optimize their order-fulfillment processes for efficiency, speed, and accuracy, said Fetch. This trend has been further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed additional strain on distribution centers to increase throughput while keeping employees socially distanced. Many companies have responded by dynamically reassigning tasks to specific workers and orchestrating the movement of AMRs.
“Distribution centers today are under more pressure than ever before, both in terms of operational efficiency and worker safety,” said Stefan Nusser, chief product officer at Fetch Robotics. “To contend with steadily growing order volumes and an ongoing labor shortage, distribution and fulfillment centers must embrace smarter technology to keep fulfillment operations running.”
VARGO said its Continuous Order Fulfillment Engine (COFE) is the only warehouse execution system (WES) that controls all the processes that take place inside a distribution center, from material handling equipment to devices, people, and processes. COFE’s “pull-based” fulfillment optimization can yield efficiency gains of over 30% compared with sites driven by traditional “waved/push-based” warehouse management systems, said the company.
Combined system offers efficiency
When combined with Fetch’s AMRs, COFE can offer further efficiency gains by allowing workers to spend more time picking as opposed to manually moving material throughout a facility.
The combined system from Fetch and VARGO provides optimized piece-, batch-, and case-picking workflows with payloads up to 1.5 tons. Customers can also use insights about overall warehouse operations to improve robot workflows, according to the partners.
“COFE’s history of providing system-wide pick optimization and orchestration across different workflows and types of automation equipment makes it a perfect complement to robot-assisted picking,” said Nusser.
“As e-commerce fulfillment operators face ever-increasing pressure to reduce labor and deliver higher levels of production in a more scalable and flexible way, the combination of VARGO® and Fetch Robotics, under this alliance, provides a powerful and compelling fulfillment solution,” said Bart J. Cera, president and chief operating officer of VARGO. “We are excited about our company’s formal alignment with Fetch Robotics to further deliver industry-leading, robust and expansive solutions for the challenges that e-commerce and distribution operations face.”