Office supplies giant adds robotics to fulfillment network

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Staples is making a bold move to modernize its supply chain.

The office supplies giant is adding a robotic material handling solution across its network of fulfillment centers. Designed by Great Star Industrial USA, LLC, the automated robotic storage and retrieval system incorporates two types of automated guided vehicles (AGVs) into a unified system that brings both high and low cubic velocity items to a single pick and pack station.

This technology is called the first to combine these separate solutions into an integrated system. The flexibility of this integrated solution requires less capital investment than traditional material handling systems, and is designed to increase productivity and picking accuracy.

The AGV used for picking items with a low cubic velocity is adaptable to pick from existing industry wide storage mediums. It can retrieve up to five unique items per trip, lowering capital and drastically reducing robot tasks and travel.

Items with high cubic velocity are picked with AGVs that replace tradi-tional manual pick carts. The new system enables pick cells to be fed by multiple AGV’s simultaneously, eliminating idle time for the order pick-er. AGVs can place products directly into the pick cell and then leave for other tasks, increasing AGV utilization, according to the retailer.

“With Staples and Great Star each leveraging their strengths in design, engineering, and supply chain operations, we’ve rapidly gone from con-cept to production with a robotic solution,” said Mike Bhaskaran, Staples’ chief supply chain officer. “It incorporates concepts that have never been used before. In addition to rolling it out across the Staples’ network of fulfillment centers, we’re excited for its potential applications beyond these facilities.”

Staples has already started to utilize the new system in one of its key ful-fillment centers. The solution will be implemented across the entire net-work over the next 24 months, according to the retailer.


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