Staples pilots robotic material handling solution

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

FRAMINGHAM, Massachusetts — Staples, Inc is implementing a robotic material handling solution for its fulfillment centres powered by Great Star Industrial USA, LLC. The technology combines separate solutions for picking items with high cubic velocity and low cubic velocity.

Unlike other systems in the market today, the automated robotic storage and retrieval system incorporates two types of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) into a unified system that brings both high and low cubic velocity items to a single pick and pack station, requiring less capital investment than traditional material handling systems while increasing productivity and picking accuracy.

The AGV used for picking items with a low cubic velocity, commonly known as “Goods to Person” technology, is adaptable to pick from existing industry wide storage mediums and can retrieve up to five unique items per trip, lowering capital and drastically reducing robot tasks and travel.

Items with high cubic velocity are picked with AGVs that replace traditional manual pick carts, redefining “Person to Goods” technology. The new system enables “Goods to Person” pick cells to be fed by multiple AGV’s simultaneously, eliminating idle time for the order picker. AGVs can place products directly into the pick cell and then leave for other tasks, increasing AGV utilization.

“With Staples and Great Star each leveraging their strengths in design, engineering, and supply chain operations, we’ve rapidly gone from concept to production with a robotic solution that is truly ground breaking,” said Mike Bhaskaran, Staples’s chief supply chain officer.

“It incorporates concepts that have never been used before. In addition to rolling it out across the Staples network of fulfillment centres, we’re excited for its potential applications beyond these facilities.”

Staples has already started to utilize the new system in one of its key fulfillment centres and is targeting to have the solution implemented across the entire network over the next 24 months.

“This solution will be transformational for the industry,” said Lily Chi, executive vice president of Great Star. “It offers a high degree of flexibility and capability that will provide a cost-effective solution for almost any order fulfillment and warehousing operation.”