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Zalando proposes Android-style OS for automation as it launches robot ‘butlers’ in Nordics DC

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Zalando‘s logistics head has proposed creating a Android-like operating system for robots, as the company opened a new fulfilment centre to serve the Nordics using its most advanced automation technology.

The German retailer hopes the new centre in Brunna, near Stockholm, will cut delivery times in half for customers in the Nordics, one of its fastest growing regions.

It will also enable same-day delivery in Stockholm and next-day delivery in other Nordic capitals.

Sized at 30,000 square metres, the centre is equipped with 50 GreyOrange ‘butlers’, autonomous mobile robots which can hand packages to the 500 employees at the site.

Jan Bartels, VP customer fulfilment and logistics at Zalando, said: “Zalando believes in pairing cutting-edge automation solutions and passionate employees. We use automation technologies to ease the workload of our employees, by taking on monotonous and non-ergonomic tasks.

“At the same time, we increase efficiency. Better and faster warehouse operations allow us to process orders even faster, and our customers will benefit from shorter delivery times.”

Kenneth Melchior, director for Northern Europe at Zalando, said the centre would help the retailer get closer to consumers in one of its “fastest growing regions.”

In an interview about the new centre on Zalando’s website, Carl-Friedrich zu Knyphausen, head of logistics development, proposed a new “open operating system” for automated systems.

“As with Android, where each app provides special functions, different robot systems will call services via the automation platform software and thus execute orders.”

This software would be able to make data available for other applications so that, for example, a transport robot could call up a navigation service that is provided centrally by the operating system.

Zalando recently exited a logistics centre near Berlin, claiming the site could not be kitted out with automation technology.

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