In 2022, stores are everywhere. While regular retail certainly doesn’t go away, consumers in the US have learned to shop online. And once they buy an item, they are used to waiting for countless ways to get it.
Self-pickup from the roadside, same-day delivery and online purchase, pickup in-store (BOPIS) – all are a sign the era of e-commerce, one in which performance is king. Berkshire Gray (NASDAQ: BGRY), one of the leading providers of solutions for warehouse robotics, knows this. The company on Thursday announced the launch of a platform that can turn any facility into a fully automated execution center.
The next-generation Berkshire Gray solution, BG FLEX, uses a fleet of connected stand-alone mobile robots (AMRs) that integrate into a variety of settings. They can be deployed in microfill centers, distribution centers and even in runtime environments outside the store.
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Once the solution is in place, the robots work together to induce, transport, sort, sequence and fulfill orders of all kinds, including non-transport and heavy items up to 60 pounds. The package also includes assembly points suitable for collecting goods to man, an an increasingly popular strategy which uses AMR to deliver orders directly to the collector.
“Retailers who approach their supply chains holistically can save millions of dollars and take care of customers faster and more profitably by investing in mobile robot automation,” said Berkshire Gray President and CEO Steve Johnson.
“This generation of our mobile robotic platform with artificial intelligence supports mobile swarm technology, integrated buffer and robotic selection, as well as advances in software and hardware performance that transform execution operations at its core,” he added.
BG FLEX is modernizing the automation of the retail warehouse in several ways. First, the mobile swarm technology mentioned by Johnson organizes the work of hundreds – even thousands – of AMRs together, including at all facilities.
Robots function as a hive mind, using AI and machine learning to adapt to change and communicate with each other. In doing so, Berkshire Gray ensures that there is no single point of failure. If one robot fails, there will always be another, ready to take its place, equipped with the same knowledge of the operator’s system.
Another attractive part of BG FLEX is the time or lack of time it takes to implement. According to Berkshire Gray, setting up the platform at the new facility takes just a few days. Other decisions can take weeks or months.
Because AMR essentially operates both mobile conveyor belts and sorting machines, they can fit into both new and existing ones. BG FLEX also includes an open API that allows AMR to integrate with palletizers, automated storage and retrieval systems, and other warehousing technologies. The platform even allows operators to simulate how robots will fit into their objects advanced digital twinning technologies.
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All of this facilitates the execution process for retailers and operators. In the warehouse or distribution center, BG FLEX robots store, select and sort goods as they arrive – this includes returned goods that the platform automatically integrates with existing inventory. It can even store and consolidate partial orders with completed orders, allowing you to upload on time.
At the micro-execution center, BG FLEX sorting capabilities can reduce the amount of time employees spend rebooting. This, in turn, increases the time they spend at the station of choice, allowing them to fulfill e-commerce orders faster.
Then, once the order is ready to ship, the platform makes it easy to align the delivery route for easy home delivery. But if the customer wants to receive the order in another way, BG FLEX can also do it. It is configured to enable options such as BOPIS and roadside pickup, and thanks to a detailed pre-sorting process it can reduce truck unloading time and refill passes.
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