Advanced Warehouse Technology

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.

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What do you think? Please share your thoughts between the two systems in the comment section below.

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