August 29, 2019

German fulfillment robots cruise e-commerce shoe warehouse

German fulfillment robots cruise e-commerce shoe warehouse

Magazino to deploy "Toru" bots in larger DC as pilot test scales up.

By DC Velocity Staff

German robotics company Magazino will deploy additional robots for e-commerce fulfillment work after completing a test project with Zalando, an online store selling fashion and lifestyle goods.

In the test, Munich-based Magazino deployed its "Toru" model of mobile picking robot at a Zalando warehouse in Erfurt, Germany. The robots were deployed parallel to humans and handled autonomous storage and retrieval of shoe boxes in shelving racks.

Over the course of the three-day pilot, two "Toru" robots had to prove their speed and reliability through a series of performance and availability tasks. Magazino will now add six more robots and deploy them all to Zalando's Lahr site in southern Germany.

At the new site, the 500-pound, mobile robots will initially be put into operation in a separated part of the shoe area within the warehouse where they will be trained, running at a maximum speed of 3.4 mph. In a second step, the robots will be connected to the warehouse management system (WMS).

Magazino's robots are also integrated with warehouse control system (WCS) software from sister company HighJump Software Inc., whose corporate owner the Körber Group is an investor in the robotic automation startup.

As they scale up their test jobs, the robots will enter an increasingly crowded sector of autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) designed for various parts of the fulfillment process. Earlier entrants include Berkshire Grey, GreyOrange, Locus Robotics, and e-commerce leader Amazon.com Inc. itself, which in June announced it had developed two sleek new warehouse robot models called Xanthus and Pegasus.

Toru robots support "stow" (storage) and "pick" (picking) operations in the areas of shoe boxes, Magazino says. They use artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D camera technology to recognize, grasp, and transport individual shoe boxes. That capability gives the robots more flexibility in fulfillment jobs than automation technologies designed to move entire loads of pallets or crates, the company said.

Each Toru bot can use a vacuum gripper to lift boxes up to 12.8 pounds, carrying up to 16 objects simultaneously in its "backpack" of rotating shelves. The robot can run up to 18 hours per day, running on batteries with an eight-hour charge.

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