Robots as a service

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

BOSTON – Berkshire Grey is now offering Robots as a Service (RaaS) options. With many retailers freezing capital expenditures due to unpredictable business conditions, RaaS may allow them to continue to implement robotics solutions.

Market trends, consumer behavior, and new competition have strained retail, e-commerce, grocery, convenience, and foodservice supply chains for several years.

But, the impact of the pandemic on retail in general is unprecedented. According to Statistica, in the first half of March sales for grocery and food delivery are up more than 40 percent, Amazon is up more than 16 percent, grocers are up almost 12 percent, and general merchandisers are up about eight percent while over that same period apparel and department store sales are down over 10 percent.

Consumers have radically changed their buying patterns and the impacts are significant across the retail ecosystem. Some current trends are expected to reverse over time, but some, especially consumer appetite for e-commerce, will not.

Regardless of whether a retailer is up or down in the short term, robotic automation delivers the competitive advantage, enhanced asset utilization, and labour optimization needed to fortify winning supply chains. RaaS subscriptions make it easier for enterprises at any point on the spectrum to realize those benefits and thrive over the long term.

“Customers across the retail ecosystem are facing a range of challenges from demand that is double or triple normal peak volumes to significant short-term sales downturns,” said Peter Van Alstine, senior vice-president and GM for retail at Berkshire Grey. “In this extraordinary business climate, RaaS makes it possible to address labour availability challenges, avoid costly new warehouse buildouts, and secure the fiscal benefits of complete robotic automation solutions without the traditional capital requirements.”

Berkshire Grey’s robotic solutions have autonomously handled millions of items and containers in production facilities. They are now available via RaaS to solve challenges across critical supply chain operations:

  • Robotic Store Replenishment solutions are currently picking millions of items round-the clock for major retailers to automate break-pack order picking.
  • Robotic Induct Stations are improving traditional sortation solution utilization and order throughput without increasing labour.
  • Robotic Pick Cells can be interfaced with existing ASRS solutions to turn goods-to-person operations into goods-to-robot operations.
  • Robotic Put Modules automate eCommerce fulfillment in distribution centres, micro-fulfillment centres, and back-of-store environments.
  • Robotic Parcel Sortation systems enable logistics providers and retailers to sort and consolidate small parcels generated by e-commerce operations into bags and containers to enable efficient network handling and zone skipping.