Decathlon deploys AMRs at Chinese sites

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Sporting goods retailer Decathlon has accelerated its automation programme with AMR deployments at two new e-commerce and fulfilment centres in China.

The goods-to-person robots, supplied by Geek+, were successfully deployed remotely in under three months, following Covid-19 restrictions that led to the closing down of all physical stores, an escalation in online demand, and extensive labor shortages.

Decathlon was able to achieve full continuous automated operations in one of its warehouses in Shanghai, while in Beijing, the company managed to deploy 72 AMRs in one of its warehouses, using collaborative digital tools such as Zoom and WeChat for online training. Furthermore, in order to deal with high demand in e-commerce, the company was able to relocate robots from its retail warehouse to its e-commerce warehouse.

The announcement is the latest milestone in a two-year collaboration between both companies. Following its first AMR deployment in 2018, Decathlon was able to triple the average productivity of labour, increase inventory capacity by 40%, secure ROI in under three years and rapidly scale-up its automation without making large investments.

Implementation of the Geek+ systems in Decathlon’s warehouses has been studied by independent research firm Interact Analysis, a global market intelligence company specialising in supply chain automation. In a new joint white paper, Interact Analysis analysed the Decathlon/Geek+ partnership to obtain insight into the future of logistics automation.

Ash Sharma, senior research director at Interact Analysis, said: “To write this white paper, we worked closely with both Decathlon and Geek+ and were also given privileged access to company information. This enabled us to fully understand the rollout of the solution and its long-term implications for the e-commerce industry.

“Our warehouse automation research shows that, today, there are close to 100,000 distribution and fulfilment centers around the world – with less than 5% of them fully automated. Goods-to-person robotics are seeking to change this.”

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