VF Corporation automates its logistics through Locus Robotics

VF Corporation automates its logistics through Locus Robotics

When asked about 2020, many retailers share a common experience: a sudden rise in e-commerce activity as sales points are massively closed, and the need for logistics to find solutions. This is the case with VF Corporation, an American company that specializes in distributing clothing to popular brands including Eastbog, Vance, The North Face, Supreme or Timberland. With ten distribution centers around the world, its logistics system already called for standard automation solutions in Europe, but not particularly on its US platforms, which had the most manual operation. But Covit’s visit calls into question everything, product flow and completion for the EMEA region at VF Corporation explained VP Brad Sampson: Our orders suddenly started to increase and the system was no longer meeting the demand. So we quickly sought a solution in the United States to support these developments. It should be used in the short term so as not to interfere with our operations or seriously affect our company without losing e-commerce sales. The entire inter-site information system based on Manhattan Associates software required a partner capable of linking its solution.

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Sharp increase in productivity

For this the distributors decided to use Locus Robotics solutions, an American company specializing in building robots for the supply chain world. The principle is simple: rather than walking from one place to another with trolleys to prepare orders, warehouse workers stay in a specific area of ​​the warehouse, which is a fleet of robots. Of all trips. Lightweight, autonomous, and operates with a natural aircraft that detects obstacles without the need to install sensors on site, the 35kg robots are equipped with tanks to produce multiple orders simultaneously, at the service of various brands of VF Corporation. An operation that reduces training time for teams (each robot only interacts with the touch screen) also provides greater protection because the robot can work in all joint environments. ” Our staff immediately understood the interest. They noticed that the most difficult part of their job of pushing carts for miles was handled by robots. », Explains Brad Sampson. Conclusion: Bases with up to 50% higher productivity, and now a fleet of 400 robots. The selection rate has increased from 55 to 90 units per hour.

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Deployment in Europe

Robots make it possible for site managers to create interesting data: ” Thanks to the information captured by the machines, how long does it take to prepare each order, how long does it take, which parts are more tight and may have more staff. With this data, even the slightest change in the structure of a site can be very neatly documented. Brad Sampson mentions. Based on these early experiences in the United States, the team has now decided to continue using these robots on its sites in Europe. ” Govt’s impacts on online sales and consumer habits are not going to change, and we need sustainable productivity “The two European bases, located in Prague and Antwerp, are thus fitted.” We started robot operation in Brock this summer and are starting the optimization phase in Belgium to start in a few weeks », Reveals Brad Sampson.

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About the Author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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