Giant distribution centers look to robots to deal with all those orders
Changes in consumer behavior and demands have forced distribution centers to both reinvent and dramatically grow their operations. This often includes drawing a new product flow map, a new type of building and a new kind of automation for the retail sector.
This impressive growth has affected retailers in both the quantity and size of the distribution centers that turn e-commerce orders into product deliveries. Theses distribution centers, also known as operation fulfillment centers, are now emerging in locations that have low real estate costs, offer tax incentives to locate there, have an available workforce for seasonal surges and offer multiple ways of transporting goods from their locations.
Further constraints on retailers includes being closer to the consumers. In the US, this means areas close to major urban areas, such as New York City, New Jersey and Oakland, CA, Midwestern hubs that are unencumbered by traffic-congested highways, such as Omaha, NB and Kansas City, MO, and traditional port cities such as Houston, TX, Norfolk, VA, and Savannah, GA.
The distribution centers being built to meet demand are usually large-scale, multi-level operations that take up an enormous amount of land. For example, The eBay Enterprise Richwood Fulfillment Center in Kentucky is almost 1.2 million sq. ft.*
Additionally, consumers expect next-day delivery, distribution operations look at how they can get the product to customer homes as quickly as possible. As a result, many businesses now supplement their large centers with smaller warehouses or brick-and-mortar stores for the “last mile” of delivery.
Another trend with consumer expectations is with product differentiators. Consumers expect to have multiple options for each product, which requires that distribution centers have all versions in stock. Distribution centers are now becoming multi-story facilities to meet consumer expectations, SKU proliferation and rising real-estate costs.
E-commerce and the hubs that service them are growing, and robotics are at the heart of that growth. Fulfilling numerous orders of different products through a storage maze within the distribution centers requires robotics and using the latest in automation. There are many ways that robotics have aided to these companies’ huge transformations into e-commerce providers. For many providers these have included the use of warehouse management systems (WMS), robotic layer depalletizing, shuttle systems for product storage, and robotic mixed load palletizing. However, Symbotic offers an ultra-dense solution that allows customers to utilize at least 40% more storage within their existing warehouses. This solution allows distribution centers to be in high density last-mile delivery areas to meet consumer expectations. Visit the Symbotic site to learn more about the Symbotic solution benefits.
*Source: logisticsmgmt.comTags: automated warehouses, distribution center, distribution centers, distribution operations, ecoomerce, omnichannel, warehouses