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Rakuten Super Logistics Picks InVia Robotics for Goods-to-Person, RaaS Systems

Rakuten is deploying mobile robots for goods-to-person processes in its U.S. warehouses.

May 09, 2018      

InVia Robotics announced today that it has partnered with Rakuten Super Logistics to help automate RSL’s warehouses in the U.S. This announcement highlights Rakuten as a new customer for InVia.

“Rakuten is a huge company with huge potential for InVia,” said Lior Elazary, founder and CEO of InVia Robotics. “They now want to get as many of their U.S. warehouses equipped with InVia robots as quickly as possible.”

InVia offers an automated storage and retrieval solution (AS/RS) in which mobile robots autonomously move throughout a warehouse to acquire storage containers of individual products off the shelves. They then deliver the containers to human picking stations in a process known as a goods-to-person workflow.

InVia's mobile robot in operation at Rakuten

The InVia Robot Management System (RMS) takes orders from the warehouse management system (WMS) and then routes the robot to the correct storage location within the warehouse.

The human picker remains stationary at the pack-out station, and the robots deliver totes or boxes containing the correct part to the picker.

Rakuten is one of the largest third-party logistics providers (3PLs) in the U.S. Because the company provides the fulfillment end for thousands of small to midsized e-commerce businesses, there is a high product mix at its warehouses. Throughput is thus critical to the bottom line for Rakuten.


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RaaS critical to Rakuten

The robots-as-a-service (RaaS) business model of InVia was one of the key selection criteria for Rakuten. RaaS can help shorten the robot sales cycle and reduce the risk of implementation for the customer.

With RaaS, Rakuten only pays for the throughput of the system. As a result, it can contain the handling costs within its warehouses. As a 3PL, controlling costs is key to remaining profitable with all of RSL’s customers.

For InVia, “selling the solution in a RaaS model puts pressure on us, as it seems every customer we talk to is ready to move forward right away, as there is little risk and a huge return on their end,” said Elazary.

“For RSL and our broad array of clients, inVia Robotics presents an exciting opportunity to scale demand, manage costs, and improve inventory accuracy utilizing a RaaS model,” explained Michael Manzione, RSL’s CEO. “Our partnership with inVia is indicative of our company’s commitment to providing clients with state-of-the-art technology designed to maximize efficiency and minimize costs.”

InVia deployed 20 robots into about 3,000 square feet of Rakuten’s Las Vegas warehouse. This was just the initial pilot deployment.

The system was completely deployed over a weekend, and it has already demonstrated that it can improve throughput by 300%.

According to Elazary, the 300% improvement is currently just on the fulfillment side of the warehouse. The companies expect higher returns once the robots are leveraged to manage the replenishment and reverse logistics workflow as well.