Locus Robotics’ revolutionary, multi-bot solution incorporates powerful and intelligent autonomous mobile robots that operate collaboratively with human workers to dramatically improve piece-handling productivity. It is easily capable of doubling, even trebling existing productivity levels without doubling the size of a workforce.
The innovative solution is increasingly being adopted by retailers, third-party logistics (3PLs) operators and specialty warehouses looking to overcome fulfilment challenges.
Such is the level of confidence in the Locus solution that US investors have agreed a $150m funding injection into the business to accelerate product innovation and support its global expansion. The funding values the business at $1bn.
So effective is the Locus AMR solution that it was named the winner of the 2020 Supply Chain Excellence Award for “Best Use of Robotics” for its work in collaboration with retailer Boots UK. Award judges praised the seamless implementation of the Locus solution and applauded the solution for its improvement in throughput capacity.
“Effective picking solutions such as the Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) system offered by Locus Robotics has helped businesses in the sector double their productivity without doubling their workforce,” said Denis Niezgoda, Vice President – Europe, Locus Robotics.
“Taking away the need for workers to haul heavy carts around the warehouse and have them located instead, close to their picking area, instantly cuts out hours of unproductive walking time on their part as the cobots convey picked items to the packing areas.”
The data fed into the LocusBot programme will also upgrade efficiency by improving pick accuracy and minimising costly and time-consuming errors.
But it is the scalability of the LocusBot solution that reaps big rewards for operators as the size of the robot fleet can be rapidly scaled up or down depending on demand, and with the bots being available through a Robots as a Service (RaaS) model, it is a very cost-effective option to the productivity challenge.
“With picking operations having to rapidly adjust to fluctuating demand, the LocusBot system has been designed to be deployable within as little as four weeks and extra robots can be added to the fleet at any time, once the programme is integrated into the Warehouse Management System. The extra robots can also be fully operational within a matter of minutes, rather than the hours – or even days – it could take to train up a human worker,” added Mr Niezgoda.
“The need to socially distance offers no challenge to the LocusBot and contact with existing workers is minimal. Likely as not, the only physical contact a worker will make with the robot during their shift is via the touch screen, which displays the order and product they need to pick. The robots will also be sanitised on a regular basis throughout any shift, so they are constantly safe.”
Matching customer delivery expectations with growing order volumes
Boots first adopted the Locus solution ahead of the 2019 peak. It was keen to find an effective solution to the problem of matching customer delivery expectations with growing order volumes.
It quickly saw productivity double and the lessons learned from early implementation proved invaluable in March 2020 as the UK entered its first national lockdown, when order volumes escalated beyond those seen during traditional peak periods.
“The effectiveness of the LocusBot solution saw it manage a 172.4% increase in online orders – easily outstripping that seen during the 2019 peak – whilst maintaining customer delivery expectations,” said Mr Niezgoda.
“Through the effective deployment of the LocusBot solution, the retailer freed itself from the yoke of traditional peak restraints despite totally unexpected – and unprecedented – demands imposed by lockdown.”
If change is to remain a constant for the modern warehouse, then flexible and easily deployed technology will prove invaluable to operators needing to overcome productivity challenges.
Everything works, right from the start
Locus Robotics has built a complete, end-to-end system that is designed specifically to meet your ecommerce fulfilment needs. We're continually working on new ways to advance robotics technology to maximise warehouse productivity.