Mobile robots set to roll down under

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

MELBOURNE, Australia – Catch Group, part of the Wesfarmers Group and one of Australia’s largest online retailers, has partnered with Körber to deploy autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) at its distribution centre in Truganina, Victoria.

The project will see the leading online retailer roll out more than 100 autonomous mobile robots and is the largest AMR deployment of its kind for an e-commerce marketplace in Australia and New Zealand.

Acquired by Wesfarmers last year, Catch Group has recently added thousands of additional stock keeping units (SKUs) to its already extensive range of brands and products.

Rising demand

“Catch has experienced phenomenal success since its inception as an early innovator in the e-commerce market in Australia. With Covid-19 driving more consumers online, Catch is very well placed to meet this rise in demand and this investment ensures that we continue to increase and improve our product and service offering for our rapidly growing consumer base,” said Richard Whetton, head of fulfillment at Catch Group.

To meet the increase in Catch’s product range, the online retailer has invested in Körber’s AMR solution, powered by global technology provider Geek+. The implementation consists of over 100 AMRs operating across 3,785 sqm (41,000 square feet) of allocated space within the 30,000-sqm (323,000-square-foot) facility. The robots will give Catch the capability to manage an additional 80,000 SKUs over and above its existing range.

“The AMRs will provide Catch with the ability to pick an additional 2,000 orders an hour. With its growing consumer base and the increased demand for timely and efficient delivery across Australia, this solution will play a crucial role in Catch being able to deliver the excellent customer experience the retailer is known for,” Rizan Mawzoon, head of transformation at Körber Supply Chain Software said.

Three-month deployment

Set to go live in November, the deployment of the AMR solution will take approximately three months and will help Catch Group accelerate its online fulfillment capabilities, moving a step closer to its overall aim of offering same-day delivery.

“We are always looking at ways we can get the order faster to the customer, this investment will allow us to hold more products ready for immediate picking, meaning we can ship most orders out the same day the order comes in,” said Saar Davidi, fulfillment centre and project manager at Catch Group.

“We went through a rigorous process to find a solutions provider that could help us continue to deliver our fast fulfillment rates with this significant increase in SKUs. Körber has a wealth of experience in delivering this kind of automation, and we really loved their honest and practical approach,” said David Matheson, general manager – fulfillment operations at Catch Group.

With Covid-19 driving e-commerce numbers to an all-time high in Australia, Catch Group reported a 68.7 percent increase in total sales for the second half of FY20. Even before the pandemic supercharged online retail, Catch was heading on a steep growth trajectory and reported a 21.4 percent increase in sales growth in the first half of FY20.

Körber Supply Chain (formerly Cohesio Group) has previously partnered with Kmart in Australia, also part of the Wesfarmers Group, in the deployment of its Android Voice picking solutions.