Geek+, a global leader in mobile robots for logistics, and NEXT, the British multinational clothing, footwear and home products retailer, have announced the success of their automation collaboration in NEXT’s Dearne Valley Pallet fulfilment centre. In 45,000 sq m of warehouse space, 250 Geek+ robots handle both goods-to-person picking and order sorting processes for NEXT’s e-commerce operations.
Faced with high demand and operating in the volatile fashion industry, NEXT decided to streamline its processes and scale up efficiently to meet new customer requirements. To achieve this goal, it has sought efficient solutions including selecting Geek+ as its robotic warehouse automation partner. The hybrid “Pick-and-Sort” solution is the result of the successful co-development process between the two companies.
Liam Jenkinson, Site Manager at NEXT, said: “Working with Geek+ has been a positive experience for us, both from the start and with the ongoing support provided. The flexibility offered by Geek+’s picking and sortation system is critical to our operations, and the integration between our Warehouse Management System and Geek+’s Robot Management System is seamless. As our business continues to expand, we are planning to extend the warehouse and replicate the success of this project in the new space.”
NEXT Manages Wide Variety of Products
The process begins with the Geek+ P800 picking robots, which retrieve the pallets from the pallet transfer area and move them to the storage area for picking. Once a picking order is initiated, the robot transports the rack to a multifunctional workstation that is utilised for both the picking and sorting procedures. Once the picking is completed, the operator deposits the item onto the S20T sorting robot. The S20T robot then transfers the goods to the designated chute for the depot, while the parcel heads downstairs for packing. The flexibility of the Geek+ solution enables NEXT to manage a wide variety of products that differ in size, weight, and velocity of sale.
With this solution, NEXT can process 16,000 units per day. According to NEXT, the efficiency of the automated process is twice that of manual picking.
Brian Lee, VP of EMEA Region at Geek+, said: “NEXT is a visionary customer that placed their trust in us. We are proud to have fulfilled our promise and provided NEXT’s warehouse with our intelligent and flexible warehouse automation solutions. We are eager to replicate it in more warehouses across the UK, Europe, and around the global.”
This improved efficiency has not only enabled NEXT to handle a record volume during the last Christmas season without requiring additional labour, but it has also allowed it to push the cut-off time from 18:00 to 22:00 while still meeting its next day delivery promise. One of the advantages of the Geek+ solution is its scalability. To meet its growing demand, NEXT introduced 50 additional S20T robots earlier this year.