Berkshire Grey Inc. today announced the general availability of its Robotic Shuttle Product Sortation, or RSPS, system for order fulfillment. The Bedford, Mass.-based company said RSPS supports the filling of e-commerce orders through stores and in-person shopping by automating store replenishment, allocation order processing, split-case cross docking, sortation, and packing.
E-commerce sales are increasingly being fulfilled by brick-and-mortar stores, noted Berkshire Grey. In 2021, more than 80% of all retail sales, including e-commerce, will come from brick-and-mortar stores, according to Insider Intelligence eMarketer.
Retailers are driving growth by aligning online and in-store customer experiences, improving selections, and adding deals to entice shoppers with popular brands and exclusive merchandise, said the company. These growth strategies place strain on conventional distribution operations that process store replenishment, allocation, and “buy online, pick up in store” orders.
RSPS can increase processing capacity and throughput for existing operations without adding labor, help right-size store inventories, and enable e-commerce fulfillment from stores to scale, claimed Berkshire Grey. Following a series of successful installations at major U.S. retailers, the offering is now generally available for global deployments.
“Our AI-powered Robotic Shuttle Product Sortation solution enables the merchandising practices that drive retail growth while improving operating models in distribution centers – even in a time of labor scarcity,” said Tom Wagner, CEO at Berkshire Grey.
Robotic Shuttle Product Sortation pathway
“RSPS has been embraced by retailers looking to drive more throughput from their existing distribution operations, said Kishore Boyalakuntla, vice president of product at Berkshire Grey. “It is most appropriate for high volumes of item-level orders going to stores to restock or replenish shelves and for ‘push’ or store-allocation orders, where goods come in and get pushed out or allocated to stores. So the products the customer is handling are always changing.”
“RSPS is the sister system to our Robotic Product Sortation or RPS solution,” he told Robotics 24/7. “Both have similar use cases. With RPS, there are robotic arms doing the singulation into linear sortation wings that deposit the items into many order containers. One robot typically picks items for up to 52 orders.”
“With RSPS, human operators pick and induct items to robotic shuttle sortation wings that deposit the items into the order containers,” explained Boyalakuntla. “RSPS provides an innovation pathway to upgrade to RPS for customers who are not ready to go ‘full robotic,’ and in many cases, both types of systems are used in the same operation to balance processing during volatility.”
“It is often the case that customers will fulfill their baseline volume with RPS and augment during surge and peak times with operator-inducted RSPS systems,” he added. “Basically, we are providing options to the market for different levels of advanced automation based on each customer’s specific labor situation and appetite for innovation.”
Robotic Shuttle Product Sortation system with human operator. Source: Berkshire Grey
RSPS can be used as a stand-alone module, with other Berkshire Grey technologies, or with existing or third-party systems. This enables retailers, grocers, and third-party logistics providers (3PLs) to be more competitive, increase throughput, and drive growth despite labor shortages, the company said. Already deployed by major retailers, RSPS includes the following capabilities:
- Increase piece-pick order fulfillment by up to 4x with no additional labor
- Improve shipment capacity and container cube utilization by up to 10%
- Handle nearly 100% of typical SKU assortments
- Operate standalone or integrated with traditional material handling systems like automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS)
- Install into existing operations with a small footprint of less than 2,500 square feet
- Support configurable order container sizes and batches
“Customers can plug RSPS into their existing systems and count on it to work with everything they’re shipping, almost immediately,” said Boyalakuntla. “The solution can get more packages in the hands of consumers, faster.”
RSPS operator view of workstation. Source: Berkshire Grey
Berkshire Grey supports supply chains
Berkshire Grey said it combines artificial intelligence and robotics to automate fulfillment, supply chain, and logistics operations. The company said it can provide scalability for picking, packing, moving, storing, organizing, and sortation and deliver competitive advantages for enterprises serving today's connected consumers. Multiple industries use its systems, including e-commerce, same-day grocery, package handling, and retail.
With Intelligent Enterprise Robotics (IER), customers can support order fulfillment across their entire supply chains, said Berkshire Grey. The company's services include installation, testing, and commissioning, as well as continued support using cloud-based AI for predictive maintenance, operations management, analytics, and integration.
Berkshire Grey added that its automated systems are modular, flexible, and available via a robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) implementation model.
About the Author
Eugene Demaitre is editorial director of Robotics 24/7. Prior to joining Peerless Media, he was a senior editor at Robotics Business Review and The Robot Report. Demaitre has also worked for BNA (now part of Bloomberg), Computerworld, and TechTarget. He has participated in numerous robotics-related webinars, podcasts, and events worldwide.
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