Berkshire Grey Inc. yesterday announced that its next-generation Robotic Store Replenishment system is now generally available for retail customers. The robotic picking solution automates break-pack operations where eaches, inner packs, and less-than-case quantities are picked and shipped in customer-specified containers to stores where associates restock shelves.
Many retailers and supply chain providers are facing labor shortages or high turnover. The Robotic Store Replenishment (RSR) system is designed to autonomously and efficiently pick smaller inventory quantities, said Berkshire Grey. As a result, it said, RSR is popular among businesses seeking to optimize store inventory levels while ensuring superior in-stock positions.
Berkshire Grey’s second-generation RSR would have debuted at MODEX 2020, but the company canceled its participation in the trade show due to health and safety concerns related to the novel coronavirus.
Lexington, Mass.-based Berkshire Grey combines robotics and artificial intelligence to automate omni-channel fulfillment. Its portfolio includes solutions for e-commerce fulfillment, induction for traditional sortation, and parcel sortation. The company’s customers include Global 100 retailers and logistics service providers. It raised $263 million in Series B financing in January.
Berkshire Grey said its customers typically optimize picking labor costs in break-pack and e-commerce operations by 70% to 80% and improve throughput by 25% to 35%. It added that operators typically get a return on investment in three years or less.
Berkshire Grey designs for demand
The RSR system can run for all shifts on demand and can support rapid scaling of operations to support high demand periods. The second-generation RSR delivers industry-leading performance including best-in-class SKU coverage, real-time picking accuracy, unparalleled throughput, and world-class labor efficiency, claimed Berkshire Grey.
The company said its sensors, grippers, and robots can automate tasks never before performed by machines in commercial settings, while autonomous learning continuously improves their speed and performance.
Robotic store replenishment systems run as a continuous and autonomous process to fulfill store replenishment orders. Totes of inventory are conveyed into the systems while outbound store order containers are inducted simultaneously.
Industrial robotic arms outfitted with Berkshire Grey’s computer vision, array of sensors, and proprietary SpectrumGripper system picks individual items out of totes and deposits them into order containers.
When an order is complete or the container is full, the system automatically moves each container to a labeling station and then onto shipping. Inventory totes are automatically routed back to the automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS). A new outbound order container is inducted every time a full container moves out of the system.
Robotic Store Replenishment system designed to scale
RSR can be integrated into standard distribution processes, with robotic systems often working side-by-side with manual break-pack operations while both are served with inventory from a traditional ASRS.
The RSR’s modular design allows retailers to scale the number of orders fulfilled simultaneously into the thousands and the number of items picked per week into the millions, said Berkshire Grey. The system can handle products including health and beauty items, apparel, electronics, housewares, packaged food, child-care products, pet care, and other general merchandise items.
“The RSR presents forward-leaning retailers with the opportunity to gain competitive advantage in today’s changing retail environment,” stated Peter Van Alstine, senior vice president and general manager for retail at Berkshire Grey. “The RSR helps retailers overcome the challenges of optimizing store inventory levels and customer service while dealing with a tight labor market. Our RSR systems have performed millions of picks in production at strategic customer sites today and are ready to deliver value for more customers.”
“Consumer buying behavior and expectations for synchronized omni-channel shopping experiences are driving up cost and complexity for every retail supply chain,” said Steve Johnson, president and chief operating officer of Berkshire Grey. “The RSR is one component of our solution portfolio that retailers can implement immediately to improve store replenishment speed while simultaneously reducing chain-wide inventory levels and improve in-stock positions for many product categories.”