Superdry is using robots to pick orders in its warehouses in the UK and continental Europe in a major change to its mostly manual operations.
The clothing retailer, which has a stock range of over 60,000 items, has deployed 20 Hikrobot carriers at its distribution centre in Belgium and six at its distribution centre in the UK in Burton-upon-Trent.
The robots work alongside manual pickers, automatically selecting and lifting modular pick-walls and transporting them to stations where workers then pick and pack the orders.
The UK distribution centres has seen the put-away of returns more than triple, with 99% of returns now able to be processed and dispatched within 24 hours.
Superdry plans to introduce a further 60 of the robots. In the future it intends to bring the technology to its USA distribution centre.
The launch follows the brand initially buying six of the robots in 2018 to use in handling returns, finding that inventory accuracy was improved and the tests exceeded expectations on throughput and productivity.
Gordon Knox, director of logistics at Superdry, said: “The adoption of robotics has come about through a requirement to cut operating costs and to reduce our reliance on labour. The headcount we needed to attract during peak periods was resulting in us having to adjust our pay structure beyond what we ideally wanted to pay.”