To address the record-low unemployment rate and the strain on labor during peak seasons, GEODIS and a major online women's apparel client partnered to pilot collaborative each-picking using 30 autonomous mobile robots from Locus Robotics in a 139,000 square foot warehouse in Indianapolis. The location handles over 30,000 SKUs and uses a manual picking process that is complex and leaves little margin for error.
"We're committed to innovative solutions for our customers to address industry-wide challenges," says Eric Douglas, GEODIS executive vice president of technology and engineering. "The labor market is tight, and we want to enable our team to better execute for our customers, and in this case, the technological support of robots effectively solved the challenge."
The success of the pilot started with simplifying GEODIS employee training. Rather than spending hours in the classroom, team members were instructed on how to pick to the robots on the warehouse floor, completing the training within a matter of minutes. The messaging on the robots is displayed in their preferred languages (English, Burmese, Chin and Spanish) allowing for faster absorption of training and a decrease in picking errors. Picking units to the robots also reduced physical demand by eliminating the need to pull pick carts and decreasing overall travel.
Now, 80 percent of the units are picked to the robots daily. Employee productivity has doubled and there was at least 50 percent reduction in time to train new employees.
"This is the first of what we anticipate to be multiple deployments of the robots this year," said Eric Douglas, as GEODIS looks to expand the partnership with Locus Robotics in more warehouses with their retail and ecommerce customers.
"While technology can never replace the human aspect of business, the Locus Robotics solution has proven to be a great asset to assist our operations to increase productivity," said Mike Honious, GEODIS chief operations officer.