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DesignFuture Japan and Locus Robotics to deploy autonomous mobile robots in Japan

January 11, 2023

Collaboration in the “Material Bank® Japan” sample marketplace for order fulfillment of interior design and construction materials.

Locus Robotics has deployed innovative ESG-friendly AMRs at more than 250 sites world-wide and has picked more than 1.3 billion items

DesignFuture Japan, the Japanese arm of Material Bank®, the world’s largest marketplace for aggregating and sending out material samples , and Locus Robotics, the leader in autonomous mobile robots (AMR) for logistics warehouses, the leader in Autonomous Mobile Robotics (AMR) for logistics and distribution warehouses, announce that they will collaborate to deploy LocusBots at the Material Bank® Japan for their beta launch in their distribution warehouse.

The two companies will introduce 25 Locus AMRs, the first in Japan, to the Material Bank® Japan HUB (Ichikawa City, Chiba Prefecture) to realize an ESG-friendly and high productivity logistics scheme. This will improve both the working environment and sustainability through automation and streamlining of picking operations, as well as enhance the customer experience for Material Bank® Japan users.

Background of Collaboration

Material Bank® Japan will launch on January 11, 2023. The Company provides a material sample marketplace where designers (professionals engaged in interior design, architectural design, display design, etc.) can quickly search for material samples from a variety of manufacturers on a single site and place orders before midnight and received in a single box as early as the next morning. According to a survey by Material Bank® in the U.S., designers spend nearly 40% of their working hours searching for and ordering building materials. In addition, the first batch shipment of samples from multiple manufacturers in Japan will reduce the environmental impact of logistics by approximately 70%, and the reuse of samples will reduce landfill and waste.

Founded in 2015, Locus Robotics operates more than 10,000 AMRs at over 250 sites in the United States, Europe, and Asia. In addition to Material Bank, Locus’s global customers include DHL Supply Chain, GEODIS, Radial, Ryder eCommerce, and VF Corporation. In 2022, the company achieved the industry-first milestone surpassing over 1.3 billion units picked. Locus averages more than three million units picked per day around the world.

The company is also actively involved in global ESG initiatives, including sustainability initiatives that refurbish, upgrade, and repurpose the AMRs, enabling them to have an almost unlimited lifespan through advanced maintenance and recycling technology.

This is the first time that the company has entered the Japanese market and the third country for the company to expand its business in Asia, following recent deployments in Singapore and Australia.

DesignFuture Japan has set the goal of reducing environmental impact in addition to providing a high level of service in the Material Bank® Japan and aims to achieve this goal through collaboration with Locus Robotics. Locus’s sustainability engineering allows virtually unlimited lifespans for the LocusBots and lowering environmental impact.

As Japan represents the world’s 4th largest ecommerce market, the need for flexible and scalable automation has dramatically increased to offset an aging population and a growing shortage of available labor. Locus is expanding into Japan with a proven track record of high productivity with Material Bank in the U.S. Locus Robotics views Japan as an important market and aims to deliver proven, flexible, cost-effective, and scalable robotics solutions for the entire warehouse.

Role of LocusBots in Material Bank® Japan

Building material samples placed by designers on the Material Bank® Japan website are sent from the Material Bank Warehouse Management System (WMS) to the Locus solution. Locus optimizes the orders and sends them to the LocusBots which autonomously move around the 6,000 m2 distribution center collaborating with workers to pick the samples and deliver them to the shipping staff.

LocusBots are equipped with a configurable platform where the boxes for collecting samples are placed, and the on-board digital display shows information to the picker about the specific samples needed and the specific boxes to be filled. Material Bank® Japan picking staff work in zones in the area of the distribution center. When LocusBots visit their assigned area, workers simply follow the LocusBots’ display information to pick the sample(s) from the appropriate shelves and place them into the designated box. This eliminates unproductive walking time and reducing fatigue for workers. LocusBots can carry multiple orders (boxes) at the same time, significantly increasing worker productivity, speed, and order accuracy.

Features of LocusBots

Locus Origin is the intelligent autonomous mobile robot (AMR) designed specifically for collaborative, high volume order fulfillment. Locus’s innovative, multi-bot approach improves fulfillment productivity over 2X by eliminating unproductive walking time and ensures order accuracy. Since Locus Origin does the traveling, workers can be more productive enabling faster cycle times, improved ergonomics, worker safety, and overall workplace quality.

Highly Configurable

Easily configured to use multi-level shelving and a wide range of containers, from tote-arrays, bulk bins, and even shipping boxes, easily adapting to your workflow and product types.

Efficient and Flexible

Highly agile and flexible, easily working collaboratively alongside your workers in both existing and Greenfield environments

Intuitive and Easy-to-Use

Intuitive and easy-to-use onboard user interface makes training fast – often in just minutes. Plus, its innovative multi-language display improves worker accuracy and comfort. And the optional gamification feature helps workers stay on top of their daily goals and performance incentives.

Sustainable Design

LocusBots are continually refurbished, updated, and returned to service, maximizing product lifespans and use cases to maximize their service lives.

The Material Bank® US has grown to the scale of 100,000 users just within three years is because their service had significantly contributed to enhance efficiencies related to sampling materials. The research in the US shows that designers spend almost 40% of their time for sampling. Here in Japan, designers mention that they spend even greater time for sampling.

It is essential to deliver samples as soon as we can is the key to resolve this issue lies in this industry. Locus Robotics, who has the strong partnership with Material Bank® US, will be a great support for us to resolve these issues and realize prompt and efficient way of delivering logistic services to our users. We are very pleased to partner with Locus Robotics to start our beta launch.

“The reason Material Bank(R) in the United States has grown into a service used by 100,000 designers in just three years is none other than the fact that it greatly contributed to streamlining operations related to sample requests,” said Tsuyoshi Nakazawa, CEO of DesignFuture Japan. “Survey results show that designers in the United States spend nearly 40% of their time requesting samples, but in interviews with Japanese designers, we hear that they spend more time than that. We believe that how quickly we can deliver samples is also important for resolving industry issues. Locus Robotics, which has built a strong partnership with Material Bank® in the United States, supports the rapid and efficient logistics that make this possible. We are very pleased to be able to start this demonstration project in Japan in collaboration with this company.”

“Locus Robotics is proud to partner with DesignFuture Japan and Material Bank, sharing our commitment to bring highly effective, scalable and efficient robotics solutions to enable designers and architects in Japan,” said Rick Faulk, CEO of Locus Robotics.

“This partnership expands our existing US-based relationship with Material Bank, bringing our innovative technology to the Japanese region for the first time. We look forward to working together to deliver eco-friendly, cutting-edge robotics technology that will drive significant operational efficiency and productivity gains.”

Rick Faulk, CEO, Locus Robotics

About Material Bank® Japan

Material Bank® Japan is a building material sample marketplace for designers and building material manufacturers. With its multi-brand cross search and batch request system and established logistics facilities, Material Bank® Japan provides designers with a free and efficient way to order samples. In addition, it provides building material manufacturers with tools for direct communication with designers and information on projects when requesting samples, making it easier than ever for them to make proposals that meet their needs.

Material Bank® Japan’s original sample shipping trays are not only designed to maximize the quality of the building can also be used as a return box with sustainability in mind. In the U.S., designers request building materials from an average of four companies per sample request, so by replacing shipping from each manufacturer with bulk shipping from Material Bank® Japan, the number of items shipped can be reduced by approximately 75%, which is expected to reduce environmental impact.

Outline of Material Bank Japan Operational Demonstration Project

Operation Demonstration Project Period

Logistics Base Location

Ichikawa City, Chiba Prefecture

Logistics base area

6,000 ㎡

Main verification details
  • Verification of improved communication between manufacturers and designers
  • Usability verification of services
  • Verification of designer’s work efficiency
  • Verification of environmental impact reduction
Number of participating designers

Approx. 3,000 *To be gradually expanded during the demonstration project

Number of participating manufacturers

Approx. 60 companies *To be gradually expanded during the demonstration project

Number of robots introduced

25 LocusBots

About Material Bank® USA

MATERIAL TECHNOLOGIES CORPORATION operates the world’s largest building materials sample marketplace. It was established and launched in 2019 based on the conception launched by Adam I. Sandow, who runs SANDOW, an American media company that publishes magazines for interior designers, as one of the company’s businesses. The company’s unique system, which combines a multi-brand cross-search and bulk billing system with established logistics facilities, enables next-day delivery of orders placed before midnight to anywhere in the U.S. In the three years since its establishment, it has grown to a scale of over 100,000 participating designers and 450 manufacturers handled.

Material Bank® is a trademark or registered trademark of Material Technologies Corporation

DesignFuture Japan Inc.

DesignFuture Japan is the operator of Material Bank® Japan, the Japanese version of the world’s largest sample marketplace, with the vision of “creating a technology infrastructure that connects designers and materials. Since the company’s establishment in 2021, we have been researching the market and determining how best to localize the service in order to make it easier for Japanese building materials manufacturers and Japanese architects and interior design professionals to use. The company name, DesignFuture Japan, reflects our desire to solve problems in the design industry and create a better future, starting with the Material Bank® Japan business.

Head Office: VORT AOYAMA II 5F, 2-1-12 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo


About Locus Robotics

Locus Robotics’ revolutionary, multi-bot solution incorporates powerful and intelligent autonomous mobile robots that operate collaboratively with human workers to dramatically improve piece‐handling, case-handling, and pallet-moving productivity 2X–3X, while optimizing labor and making efficient use of warehouse space. Locus helps retailers, 3PLs, and specialty warehouses efficiently meet and exceed the increasingly complex and demanding requirements of fulfillment environments. Easily integrating into large-scale new and existing warehouse infrastructures without disrupting workflows, Locus transforms productivity without transforming the warehouse.

Headquartered in Wilmington, Massachusetts, Locus’s EMEA presence is centrally located in Amsterdam, with APAC presence located in Singapore.

In 2022 alone, Locus Robotics has won more than 17 industry awards, including being named to the Inc. 500 for the second year in a row and a 2022 IFOY Award for its Autonomous Mobile Robot Solution in the Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV/AMR) category.

Headquarters Location: U.S.A.


Product & Service Inquiries

DesignFuture Japan Inc

Press Inquiries

DesignFuture Japan

Shimosaka, Public Relations,

080-4064-4879 (direct line)

Locus Robotics

Amy Janzen, Brandstyle Communications,