Flipkart unveils robot-based sortation technology

The company will be building a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Robotics & Automation, focusing engineering, product, and automation teams under one umbrella

By Author  |  Business Bureau  |  Published: 19th Mar 2019  8:46 pm

Hyderabad: In an industry-changing move, e-commerce marketplace Flipkart has introduced India’s first robot-based sortation technology, Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) at its Soukya sortation centre in Bengaluru. Designed to optimise efficiency and precision on the back-end of the supply chain, the AGVs will help Flipkart meet ever-growing customer and scale demands, ensuring faster delivery and an enhanced experience for online shoppers.
The set-up involves 100+ self-guided bots that automatically sort packages to the right customer pincodes by identifying encoded information on each package. It will enable better throughput from an existing facility, removing the need for space expansion, and will enable the current manpower allocated to the task to be upskilled to do higher value-adding work — all at similar or lower cost. The Soukya facility has around 1,000 employees at present and processes lakhs of shipments a day.

The AGVs will work in conjunction with facility staff, who will be trained in operating them. Tests indicate deploying 100 of these AGVs can lead to over 60 per cent increase in process efficiency. The setup can process up to 4,500 shipments in an hour and can be scaled over 5x with minimal changes. The other advantage is that they can be easily moved across locations as well. This allows a kind of unparalleled flexibility and mobility that will be needed to scale supply chain operations for future demand.

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The company will be building a Centre of Excellence (CoE) for Robotics & Automation, focusing engineering, product, and automation teams under one umbrella. Some future mandates for the CoE will be further automation, IoT, electric vehicles etc.

Krishna Raghavan, senior vice-president, eKart Tech at Flipkart said, “With the Automated Guided Vehicles, we are re-imagining new growth paths, while orchestrating new and innovative ways of working. Going forward, we will be looking at how we can help build the country’s nascent automation ecosystem through R&D and collaboration so we can continue building India-specific solutions.”