Global fitness retailer automates picking with robots

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Gymshark will utilize picking robots in a Pennsylvania distribution center.

U.K.-based specialty fitness apparel/accessories retailer Gymshark is deploying a robotic picking system at a North American fulfillment center.

Having grown from a screen-printing operation to a global fitness brand with customers in over 180 countries, Gymshark is supporting its rapid scaling of operations by implementing the Exotec Skypod system as the central pick engine in its 640,000-sq.-ft. Allentown, Penn. fulfillment center.

The Exotec Skypod System utilizes mobile robots that can move in three dimensions and reach heights of 40 feet to enable efficient, high-density inventory storage. The solution uses laser scanner navigation to navigate in a multidirectional manner while carrying bins of up to 30 kg.

This capability is designed to free up time for warehouse associates to focus on packing and shipping, avoiding long-distance walks to obtain inventory. According to Exotec, Skypod can increase warehouse throughput by up to five times with a two-minute response time for all SKUs. Specialty apparel retailer Gap Inc. contracted to optimize its returns picking process with Skypod robots in March 2021, and sporting goods retailer Decathlon Canada is deploying Skypod this month at a Montreal facility to help manage holiday demand.

Gymshark is working with Radial and AHS to implement and integrate the Exotec Skypod solution at its Allentown facility. The retailer will use the system to support output of over 240,000 units per day. The implementation will have over 100 Skypod robots, with a scheduled go-live in the third quarter of 2022. 

"Working with both Radial and AHS – we believe we are investing in a partnership and solution that will not only allow us to offer a best-in-class service to our customers in the U.S., but also allow us to scale the operation as we continue to grow in the North American Market," said Chris Ormonde, operations director, Gymshark.

"AHS and Radial have been long-term partners in enhancing many successful fulfillment centers over the past several years," said Jordan Frank, Sr., director of system sales at AHS LLC. "This project takes our partnership to the next level and showcases the passion and commitment Radial has towards innovation."

"We are constantly looking for new technologies that can improve our processes and provide our clients a competitive edge, making their fulfillment more efficient and intelligent," said Steve Fischer, director of implementations engineering at Radial. "AHS's ability to bring innovative solutions with a great understanding of our business is what makes our relationship work so well. We are excited to partner with AHS and Exotec to deliver this advanced fulfillment system to service Gymshark."

"Supply chain disruptions, ongoing labor constraints, and rapid growth of ecommerce continue to drive demand for adaptable robotics solutions. Exotec supports large, innovative brands like Gymshark and gives them the flexibility to scale their operations rapidly in response to consumer demands while ensuring a high level of customer satisfaction," said Romain Moulin, CEO of Exotec.