Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Hudson’s Bay installs robotic system at Scarborough distribution centre

November 7, 2016
By Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Nov. 7, 2016 – Hudson’s Bay Company, Canada’s oldest retailer, is turning to robots to boost its e-commerce offering, spending more than $60 million in upgrades to its Scarborough distribution centre. The investments include the addition of a new “state-of-the-art” robotic fulfillment system which will enable the company to deliver orders three times faster than other distribution centres using the next best robotic technology, it said.

“Our customers will benefit from the country’s fastest order shipping system,” said Jerry Storch, CEO. “We are proud to be the first to bring this industry-leading technology to Canada, in time for the busy holiday season.”

At an unveiling of the technology, Storch said it was like moving on from “an abacus to a MacBook Pro.”

“With the OPEX Perfect Pick robotic system, an item purchased online is located in the warehouse in less than 30 seconds, and packed into a box, ready for mailing.

It is the first time the Perfect Pick system has been used in Canada, which operates 300 robots to store and retrieve products from bins the size of a recycling blue box,” reported Linda Nguyen of The Canadian Press.

The system features 16 200-ft. long aisles, utilizes the entire vertical height of the building, and can hold more than one million units of inventory and can process roughly 4,200 customer orders per hour. Two custom-built document handling robots automate insertion of packing lists, while 15,000 feet of conveyor and a fleet of approximately 300 autonomous robotic delivery vehicles — iBOTs — move inventory for storing and shipping.

The 752,000-square-foot distribution centre supports e-commerce for HBC’s Hudson’s Bay department store. More than 300 full-time associates are employed at the centre. According to a company statement, the facility promises to be the first of its kind in Canada and “showcases some of the most advanced automated distribution technology in the retail sector.”

“Hudson’s Bay said the technology eliminates the need for workers to walk 15 kilometres a day in the warehouse tracking goods and improves the accuracy of shipped items to 99.7 per cent, up from 97 to 98 per cent when done manually,” added Nguyen. “The distribution centre has around 300 full-time, permanent employees and expects to hire about 200 to 300 temporary workers over the busy Christmas holiday period, down from 600 to 700 last year.”

— With files from Linda Nguyen, The Canadian Press

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