Geekplus Technology Co., a global supplier of mobile robots for logistics, and Next Retail Ltd., a multinational clothing, footwear, and home products retailer, last week announced the successful automation of NEXT's Dearne Valley Pallet fulfillment center in the U.K.
Faced with high demand in the volatile fashion industry, NEXT decided to streamline processes and scale up efficiently. The company said it selected Geek+ as its robotics partner, resulting in the co-development of a hybrid “Pick-and-Sort” system.
Geek+ said in a release that its technology allowed NEXT to handle a record volume last Christmas season without additional labor. The retailer was also able to push its cut-off time from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. while still promising next-day deliveries.
NEXT uses robots for picking, sorting
Enderby, England-based NEXT claimed that it is the largest clothing retailer by sales in the U.K. The company has around 700 stores, of which about 500 are in the U.K., and 200 are across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.
In 45,000 sq. m (484,375.9 sq. ft.) of warehouse space, 250 Geek+ autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) handle both goods-to-person picking and order-sorting processes for NEXT's e-commerce operations.
Geek+ P800 robots retrieve pallets and move them to the storage area for picking. The AMR transports the rack to a multifunction workstation for the picking and sorting procedures.
Once the picking is completed, the items are deposited onto the S20C sorting robot, which transfers it to the designated chute for depot, according to the company.
With this system, NEXT said it can process 16,000 units per day, twice the efficiency of manual picking. To meet customer growing demand, NEXT introduced 50 additional S20C robots earlier this year.
NEXT said hybrid robots have helped double its picking efficiency. Source: Geek+
Geek+ to expand warehouse deployments
“The flexibility offered by Geek+ is critical to our operations, and the integration between our warehouse management system [WMS] and Geek+'s Robot Management System is seamless,” said Liam Jenkinson, site manager at NEXT. “We plan to replicate the success of this project in the extended warehouse as our business expands.”
“We are proud to provide NEXT's warehouse with our intelligent warehouse automation solutions,” said Brian Lee, vice president of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) at Geek+. “We are eager to replicate it in more warehouses across the U.K., Europe, and around the globe.”
Founded in 2015, Geek+ said it applies robotics and artificial intelligence “to realize flexible, reliable, and efficient systems for warehouses and supply chain management.”
The company has more than 1,500 employees and offices in Germany, the U.K., the U.S., Japan, South Korea, China, and Singapore. Geek+ said more than 500 global industry leaders trust it as a world leader in AMRs.
Email Sign Up
Get news, papers, media and research delivered
Stay up-to-date with news and resources you need to do your job.
Research industry trends, compare companies and get market intelligence every week with Robotics 24/7.
Subscribe to our robotics user email newsletter and we'll keep you informed and up-to-date.