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Orbis automates to accumulate

By Retail Technology | Wednesday December 2 2020

Japanese online cosmetics retailer Orbis has installed a fully automated sortation system at its ecommerce fulfilment hub in Tokyo

Set over four-storeys and constructed to be fire- and earthquake-proof, Orbis’s 42,000 square metre Tokyo facility processes orders for the whole of Japan.

Autonomous mobile robot (AMR) technology designed and supplied by LiBiao Robot is now at the heart of Orbis’s order fulfilment facility’s intralogistics system. A fleet of over 300 LiBiao robots have replaced a conveyor-based sorting arrangement that had been struggling to cope with increased throughput at the site since the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis.

LiBiao’s AMR range has been developed as a cost-efficient and flexible alternative to the tilt-tray and cross-belt conveyor-based sortation systems that have traditionally been used within many busy parcel and e-commerce operations.

The robot-based system is a fraction of the cost of a typical cross-belt or tilt tray conveyor and, because Libiao’s sortation robots are more compact than other AMRs currently on the market, they require less space within which to operate – a sortation system can be set up in one-fifth of the floor area needed by a conveyor to achieve the same parcel throughput statistics.

The time needed to complete an installation is also notably shorter than what is necessary when building conveyor-based sorting solutions.

Operational benefits

Furthermore, with no fixed infrastructure requirements, modular AMR systems are scalable and offer complete flexibility: additional robots can be introduced as and when they are needed and the technology is fully portable – meaning systems can be switched between sites if required.

The introduction of Libiao AMR technology has brought a number of significant operational benefits and cost efficiencies to Orbis. For instance, before the arrival of the robot technology, Orbis’s warehouse staff had to sort orders by their destination location and deliver them manually by walking full trolley loads across the facility to the goods-out area.

The robots now perform this task automatically and individual parcels are transferred by the AMRs directly to a marshalling area where they are checked before being loaded into waiting delivery vehicles.

By removing the need for workers to manually handle parcels in this way, Orbis has been able to restructure its workforce and redeploy staff to other more productive activities – thereby reducing labour costs and delivering operational improvements to the business.

The LiBiao robots have also driven notable productivity gains for Orbis: the site’s processing capacity has risen from 1,800 parcels per hour to 2,400 parcels per hour – a throughput increase of some 30%.

And, because the robots operate in an area of just 1,800 square metres – significantly less space than the previous system – Orbis has been able to free up some 200 square metres inside the facility, which it has converted into a much-needed extra storage area.

In addition, because the LiBiao robots use considerably less power than fixed conveyors, Orbis is benefiting from reduced energy costs.



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