As a young supply chain professional, I have had the opportunity to visit local distribution and fulfillment centers within the Reno-Tahoe basin. The most unique element of my experience was the vast difference between material handling technology used from one facility to another. I will freely admit Urban Outfitter’s Fulfillment center was my first exposure to the industry and I assumed competitors used similar technology. Boy was I wrong.
Material handling equipment can consist of transport conveyance and totes used to carry product from one location to another. In a visit to Toys R Us, I was amazed by their Kiva System where a network of lawn-mower-sized robots, capable of lifting 1,000 pounds, brought product to you. Traditionally, a floor associate completes manual picks through an optimized travel path, but the Kiva system brought individual units to a packing associate, who then fulfilled customer orders. Additionally, their Kiva system was combined with an integrated pick-to-light system ensuring their pick and pack processes were nearly fool-proof.
As impressed as I was with the Kiva system, I am still very much spoiled with the “toys” at Urban Outfitters. Urban Outfitters selected Vanderlande Industries to deliver the innovative solutions needed to meets its challenging logistics model. They developed state-of-the-art picking and sortation technologies, specifically designed and optimized for the Direct-to-Consumer market. The material handling system is managed by Vanderlande’s VISION Warehouse Control System and is integrated into Urban Outfitters’ Manhattan Associates Warehouse Management System. The Vanderlande solution offers a faster return on investment and the new warehouse process will bring significantly improved performance in terms of operating costs, efficiency, and customer service levels.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts between the two systems in the comment section below.