Flexible Automation in a Small-footprint
To keep pace with increasing e-commerce and omnichannel demands, companies across the retail spectrum are seeking new strategies to shorten fulfillment cycle times and reduce the distance between themselves and their customers. The emergence of high-density, small-footprint, micro-fulfillment center (MFC) automation is helping mass retailers and food retailers where they need it most: with direct-to-consumer delivery or in-store pickup.
Retailers must not only accelerate order fulfillment and delivery, but also support the growing consumer preference to “buy online and pick up in store” (aka BOPIS or click-and-collect) — especially now in grocery environments. When you factor in labor shortages, the scarcity of real estate, and the need to digitize fulfillment and supply chain logistics, these market conditions have created a perfect storm of challenges for retailers.
Honeywell Intelligrated combines the best of existing and new automation technologies to develop innovative micro-fulfillment center solutions for omnichannel retail customers. From automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) shuttles to autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to advanced Momentum™ execution software, we’re combining the latest technological advancements to help our customers meet the demands of next- and same-day order fulfillment.
AS/RS Goods-to-person (GTP) Shuttle
Our micro-fulfillment center solution starts with proven AS/RS shuttle technology capable of storing up to 15,000 SKUs in multiple aisles. Mass retailers can use all aisles for dry goods; food retailers can use any combination of ambient and refrigerated aisles for both dry and chilled goods. The shuttle retrieves goods from the aisles and delivers them to manual GTP order consolidation stations. Once operators complete an order, totes are conveyed to the delivery area for customer pickup.
The solution also includes an AMR-assisted manual picking station for fast-moving, high-velocity items and an option for grocers to integrate a walk-in freezer for frozen goods. Operators pick goods from these locations and place items into totes located on AMRs, which then deliver these SKUs to the appropriate GTP station for order consolidation. Momentum-based routing and storage software orchestrates the entire process for maximum throughput and efficiency.
High-density Cube Storage
For a more automated MFC solution, high-density, cube-like storage structures combine the best of robotics and AS/RS technologies to reduce storage space by up to 85% — while increasing storage density 50% over shuttle-based solutions. This state-of-the-art solution provides fast, accurate robotic retrieval to ergonomic, GTP workstations and can achieve high throughput rates of up to 300 tote/bin presentations per hour, per workstation.
Given the wide variability of business models and fulfillment scenarios in the retail sector, our high-density MFC solutions can be contracted or expanded to accommodate virtually any facility size or footprint — today and in the future. Not only can they be configured to cover diverse fulfillment processes and requirements, they also enable GTP picking stations to be located anywhere on the cube’s perimeter. This flexible profile scales vertically in proportion to your facility’s physical footprint and high-density storage demands. By eliminating the need for conveyors, this high-density cube storage reduces upfront investment costs and delivers a low total cost of ownership.
Micro-fulfillment Center Capabilities — At a Glance
MFC solutions from Honeywell Intelligrated can be tailored to meet a spectrum of fulfillment requirements — from 5,000 to 15,000 SKUs and within a 6,000 to 20,000 sq. ft. footprint — and can include any combination of ambient and refrigerated storage. Below is an example of a typical grocery micro-fulfillment center design specification:
- 10,000 SKUs
- 12,000 sq. ft.
- Up to 1,000 orders per day
- 4 GTP pick stations
- 15 lines per order
- Presentation hit rate = 1.1
- 15 operational picking hours per day
Macro Trends Behind the Emergence of Micro-fulfillment Centers
We know you’re facing unprecedented pressures related to e-commerce and omnichannel fulfillment. Our micro-fulfillment centers are designed to help you address these macro trends:
- Consumers demand faster deliveries, including next- and same-day fulfillment.
- Urbanization is forcing retailers to establish MFCs closer to their customers and/or in their stores.
- Lack of warehouse space in urban areas is dictating smaller-footprint operations.
- SKU proliferation from e-commerce shopping preferences adds fulfillment complexities.
- Finding and retaining productive, qualified labor remains a top challenge.
- Emerging fulfillment models like BOPIS have proved problematic and unprofitable.
- E-commerce in food retail has permanently reshaped supermarket business models.
Micro-fulfillment Center Benefits
Micro-fulfillment center solutions from Honeywell Intelligrated deliver the following benefits:
- Close proximity to customers for faster fulfillment
- Flexible integrations into existing stores, bolt-on installations or stand-alone facilities
- Quick to deploy and commission
- Reduced reliance on manual labor
- Adaptable to a wide variety of market segments
- Ongoing consultative expertise and full lifecycle support