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GEODIS accelerates case picking throughput with Vecna Robotics solution

Major 3PL nearly doubles case picking throughput at site in Indiana by deploying Vecna's pallet jack AMRs and orchestrating the mobile robots with human pickers via Vecna's software.

Vecna Robotics, a provider of flexible material handling automation solutions, today announced that it has collaborated with GEODIS, a leading third-party logistics (3PL) company, to deploy an autonomous mobile robot (AMR) solution for case picking at GEODIS’s Indianapolis campus.

The implementation began in late 2022, and rethinks the human-robot interaction, reducing inefficient travel and nearly doubling workflow throughput, according to Vecna.

“Our engagement with GEODIS is a true advancement in material handling innovation,” said Anthony Moschella, SVP of Product Management at Vecna Robotics. “We have deployed systems together for almost four years, and both recognized a huge unmet need in the market to re-imagine the most common order picking workflow – case picking – in a way that combines the strengths of humans and robots. The result is the industry’s first deployment of flexible case picking automation, and an example of customer-driven innovation at its finest.”

According to Vecna Robotics’ 2022 Market Survey, 78% of medium to large material handling operations run case picking workflows, and it is currently the most difficult area of material handling to staff with skilled labor.

At the GEODIS Indianapolis campus, instead of the worker manually driving a pallet jack along an order’s pick path and getting on and off to load goods onto a pallet, Vecna Robotics’ pallet jack AMRs traverse the pick path while zone-based GEODIS teammates load goods onto the order pallet, Vecna explained. The entire system is managed by Vecna Robotics’ orchestration software, which integrates with the site’s WMS and optimizes order management across the fleet while facilitating workflows and communication between robots and human pickers.

By directing robots, the solution helps GEODIS reduce non-value-added travel for workers, increase efficiency, and improve safety by removing the need for humans to step on and off a pallet jack. Since deploying the Vecna Robotics AMR solution at the Indianapolis campus, GEODIS has realized a productivity gain of more than 1.7x. Additionally, the Vecna Robotics solution has offered a labor hours savings that exceeds 42% versus manual operations, allowing for teammates to be utilized in other areas for optimal efficiency and productivity, Vecna added.

“Case picking is a near-universal workflow across our more than 155 warehouses in the United States. However, manual case picking is a cumbersome, inefficient and time-consuming process that has yet to be automated outside of infrastructure-heavy solutions,” said Andy Johnston, Senior Director of Innovation at GEODIS. “We knew there had to be a better way to leverage flexible automation and improve the experience for our teammates and customers. Therefore, we chose to work with Vecna Robotics on this cutting-edge solution. We’re excited to have spearheaded the deployment of this first-of-its-kind innovation and our future with Vecna Robotics.”

At ProMat, Anthony Moschella and Andy Johnston from Vecna will be discussing this topic of efficient human-robot workflows in an on-floor seminar on March 22 from 3:30 - 4:15 PM in Theater F.

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