Partnerships propel European flexible warehouse automation growth

Posted by Geekplus on Apr 15, 2024 8:34:00 AM

In the five years Geekplus has been growing in Europe, the mobile order fulfillment robot company has completed projects for more than 70 different retailers, 3PLs and other companies throughout 19 countries. This explosive growth is thanks in part to the company’s 16 European partners that help provide localized, expert service projects throughout the EMEA region.

Shelf-to-Person mobile robot systems, where mobile picking robots automatically transport full shelves of products to a picking station for order fulfillment, are the most scalable and mobile Goods-to-Person solution on the market because they require no fixed infrastructure. These solutions enable 3PLs and retailers to make workers happy while optimizing fulfillment and saving money as they deal with the onslaught of customer fulfillment demands brought on by the unceasing growth of e-commerce sales. Geekplus recently deployed its Tote-to-Person solution in Italy for a pharmaceutical retailer. 

RoboShuttle System-USA-min-2

Workers also like robots because the best software systems are intuitive and easy to use, requiring a short training period. Also, the software that runs the solution is picture-based so employees can work in their native languages. Many companies have multiple languages spoken inside the warehouse.

In June 2022, Geekplus partnered with Netherlands-based Reesink Logisitic Solutions, the European warehouse automation division of Royal Reesink. The European company helps Geekplus provide localized service for its projects in the Benelux region and Poland.

Reesink develops software and works with Geekplus on the hardware side, presenting European customers with an integrated solution.

“We’re really adding depth … on top of the Geekplus portfolio, being close to the customer,” said Reesink's Dobbe Benson.

Beyond fixed warehouse automation

In Europe, the main challenges for warehouse operators include both finding warehouse labor and retaining those workers, along with storage density and general economic pressures, he said.

“Costs are rising, but also the pressure from the market is high,” he said, adding that evolving customer demands play a large part in companies seeking warehouse automation. “We all want to have our package, if we order it today, we all want to have it tomorrow, so the pressure is increasing but the amount of labor is decreasing.”

Confronting these challenges with flexible, mobile order fulfillment robot solutions might not necessarily be straightforward, especially in some European markets. But Benson said that flexible warehouse automation, as opposed to the fixed automation solutions historically more prevalent in Europe, are becoming more popular in specific regions like Poland and the Benelux countries.

“In Poland, we see customers are more automating to facilitate growth. In the more western countries, we see especially customers automating because of economics and storage density,” he said.

3PLs are especially interested in mobile robots because they can easily adapt to changes in customer profiles, he said.


Europe slower to embrace automation

Geekplus also works with ResinDek, a manufacturer of mezzanine floors. During the LogiMAT 2024 trade show in Stuttgart, the company's Dave Paquin explained that the company has been selling into Europe for 15 years but has recently ramped up its European sales operations. With that move, he uncovered a curious fact: He thought adoption of tech in the warehousing space in Europe would be further along than the U.S. or Canada. Not true.

He said the vast majority of companies, both in Europe and around the world, have not even dipped their toe into automation likely because they are confused by all the options in the market.

“Everyone knows they need to automate; the question is what part of their operation should they automate and what technology vendor should they use,” he said.

A lack of movement on warehouse automation and a reluctance to try Goods-to-Person order fulfillment robots, or even a fixed automation solution, isn’t due to companies being thrilled with manual order picking. Labor costs are on the rise, it’s hard to find workers who are willing to spend their days walking up and down warehouse aisles and warehouse space is at a premium. Manual order fulfillment is broken, and companies want to fix it. But with so many options, warehouse operators are a bit paralyzed by analysis. Paquin boils this inactivity down to fear.

“They don’t want to select the wrong vendor, the wrong type of automation – and they don’t probably have people to navigate them through that process of selecting that technology,” he said.

His advice? Take the leap. Start automating order fulfillment processes today.

“If you’re not at least looking at automation, you’re already behind,” Paquin said. “You don’t have to do everything at once, but it’s important to just get started because manual processes can’t keep up in today’s world.”

Paquin's company partnered with Geekplus because the mobile robotics company offers a broad portfolio of Goods-to-Peron robot solutions. With Geekplus, customers can find the right level of automation to fit their current business needs and are not forced to jump into warehouse automation all at once.

Geekplus is a one-stop shop for order fulfillment automation, enabling a range of reliable and innovative mobile robotics solutions fit to evolving order fulfillment needs. The scalability of Geekplus solutions means companies aren’t forced into extensive upgrades; Geekplus grows with you, providing the right solutions, or hybrid combination of robot types, to meet current business demands. 

Topics: Europe, warehouse automation, 2024, Benelux