Automation: Zalando relies on robotics in logistics

Gripping, picking up, transporting: Zalando is expanding its fleet of robots at the Lahr site. The mobile logistics helpers are also to be used at this year’s Cyber Week and relieve the employees in the pick area. […]

Zalando is expanding automation at its Lahr site and plans to increase the number of mobile robots called “TORU” from eight to 28 by the second quarter of 2022. The logistics helpers developed by the robotics company Magazino have been in use at the online fashion retailer since 2018 and pick up to 3,000 shoes per day.

Human know-how indispensable

The robots can grab shoe boxes, pick them up and transport them. Logistics employees are primarily to be relieved of repetitive, unergonomic activities. At this year’s Cyber Week, this should also make the work of employees easier.

However, human know-how is still indispensable: “The TORU robots can only help if they receive support,” says Carl-Friedrich zu Knyphausen, Director Logistics Development. “For example, we observed that the robots do not like inaccuracies within a picking rack. You need a precise arrangement of the shoe box stacks, otherwise there may be a short-term standstill. This level of detail can only be guaranteed by our employees in the pick area, who have to stow the shoe boxes very precisely.“

To further improve workflows, Zalando has also implemented autonomous mobile robots for automation. The robots, provided by BWW Group subsidiary idealworks, move packaged orders between two sorting machines in the shipping area at the Mönchengladbach site. On a 50-meter-long route, the robots can travel at speeds of up to 8 km/h. You receive your transport orders via idealworks’ fleet management software, which is connected to Zalando’s central IT system ZalOs.

*Alessa Kästner is a graduate of the Burda Journalism School, volunteered at Playboy and wrote for titles such as ELLE, Freundin and Focus as well as advertise and sell. Her core topics as an INTERNET WORLD editor: Digital lifestyle, marketing trends and social media.

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