Warehouse robotics provider 6 River Systems this week announced that its mobile robots helped warehouses across the U.S. fulfill 1 million units in the days following Black Friday. Since announcing general availability of its fulfillment system in April 2017, 6 River has deployed its systems on at 25 sites.
“This is a huge win not just for our customers, but for the entire collaborative robotics industry,” said Jerome Dubois, co-founder and co-CEO of 6 River. “Logistics leaders have new options for automation. They don’t have to settle for traditional automation that is clunky, non-scalable, and expensive.”
‘Chuck’ reporting for warehouse duty
6 River uses a system that includes robots named “Chuck,” along with cloud-based software. The Chuck robots communicate with the software to coordinate tasks on warehouse floors, working collaboratively with human workers to eliminate long walks, reduce in-aisle walking, and speed up warehouse tasks, including put-away, picking, replenishment, and sorting.
Adobe Analytics said Black Friday sales this year pulled in a record $6.22 billion in e-commerce sales, followed by Cyber Monday sales of $7.9 billion, an increase of 19.3% over last year. Mobile robot systems have helped many logistics providers supplement their workforce to meet these orders in the face of record-low unemployment.
Investments super-hot for mobile warehouse robots
Investment in the mobile robot warehouse space is super-hot, with millions being invested across several new startups in the space. Last week, China-based Geek+ raised $150 million in what it says is the largest funding round ever for a logistics robot startup.
Other significant investments in this space include Grey Orange, Locus Robotics, Fetch Robotics, and IAM Robotics. 6 River Systems itself received a $15 million investment earlier this year.
One of the logistics providers using 6 River Systems is ACT Fulfillment, which provides wholesale, retail, and e-commerce fulfillment and value-added services for major fashion brands.
“We had confidence in the 6 River Systems solution for our peak, thanks largely to the continued improvement in their solution,” said Ryan Cox, an industrial engineer at ACT Fulfillment. “We knew we were in good hands come time for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”
Waltham, Mass.-based 6 River also announced two additional companies utilizing its robotics systems — Healing Hands and CSAT Solutions. Healing Hands develops and produces scrubs for nurses and other health-care workers. The East Rutherford, N.J.-based customer has more than 8,000 SKUs and 1 million units in its new 60,000-square-feet warehouse.
6 River said the company initially looked at traditional automation, “but after doing some research decided that 6 River Systems collaborative robots best suited their business needs.” Healing Hands said it plans to use the robots to achieve a goal of same-day shipping.
At CSAT Solutions, the company said that by incorporating the Chuck robots within the parts warehouse and fulfillment area, it has “doubled productivity by significantly reducing the use of manual cart picking.”
6 River Systems also announced new hires on its leadership team. Chris Lingamfelter has joined it as vice president of sales, and Scott Ward is the chief financial officer. The company said it is continuing to work on preparing its products for general availability in Europe and “doubling its engineering capacity in the last year.”