An advanced type of distribution centre robot will be processing real customer orders at Zalando’s Lahr fulfilment centre as a test programme moves into pilot mode.
The fast fashion giant will introduce eight TORU units from Munich robotics company Magazino, a specialised robot which can pick up individual products rather than just whole pallets.
Zalando has been testing the TORUs in its Erfurt logistics centre since October 2018. Until now the robots have been operating in a designated area so as not to disrupt operations, but they will now operate in the same environment as distribution centre employees.
The retailer has chosen Lahr because it offers the necessary space for the robots to operate, including charging stations.
“After being tested in various pick-and-stow operations, the robots have consistently proven themselves to be reliable in a logistics environment and are now ready for a pilot in Lahr,” said Carl-Friedrich zu Knyphausen, head of logistics development at Zalando.
“We test technologies that take over physically demanding or monotonous tasks from our employees. TORU provides our employees relief from non-ergonomic activities, such as bending down or reaching high when grabbing products on the lowest or highest shelves.
“It’s not about transitioning completely to automisation; our strategy is really to foster an effective collaboration between people and technology.”
“As with Android, where each app provides special functions, different robot systems will call services via the automation platform software and thus execute orders,” he said.
This software would be able to make data available for other applications so that, for example, a transport robot could call up a navigation service that is provided centrally by the operating system.